by Gennifer Majors, First year student, MPhil Textile Conservation.
I’ve recently been thrown into a world completely new to me. I’m unfamiliar with the land, the life, and even the language at times. And I couldn’t love it more. I come from a little town in the United States, a small undergraduate university, a family that has never really travelled outside of the States. I heard about the mysterious profession of textile conservation from an archivist while volunteering at a state museum during the summer of my senior year studying for a Bachelor’s degrees in physics and history. I quickly discovered how few textile conservators and schools exist in my country and so I looked internationally. I soon found and settled on the University of Glasgow’s postgraduate program in textile conservation. The school looked absolutely stunning, the program seemed established and well-rounded, and who wouldn’t take an opportunity to visit Scotland for two years?
After a crash-course in international travel and overcoming my parents as they tried to find in-country alternatives, I found myself in my new “home”: Glasgow.
Every aspect of this experience is utterly new to me. I’ve never lived in a big city and at the mercy of trains and buses, I’ve never attended such a large university, and I’ve certainly never had to quickly decipher heavy Glaswegian accents on a daily basis. But it’s been absolutely amazing! The people are so consistently nice and helpful that, in a month and a half, the only gruff person I’ve run into was a bus driver at the end of his shift. The city itself is so lovely. There are parks and cultural centers, ancient sites and brand new shopping malls, and down-to-earth inhabitants who love how their city has really blossomed in the past few decades. I have just returned from a trip to the Isle of Skye that has taken me through some of the most eccentrically beautiful scenery.
As for the school and its program, it did take a little while for me to learn how to function in such a large bureaucracy, but it wasn’t impossible. And the quality of the program absolutely more than makes up for any of the school’s administrative tangles. You know you’re doing something right when you’re actually excited to head into 6 and a half hour class on a Monday morning. All of us, students and teachers alike, have come from unique backgrounds and it’s amazing to see our past experiences pulled together and utilized by what we’re learning; this really makes the subjects relate to everyone in turn. We also get to immediately apply what we learn and to actually understand why it’s important. I am so excited to be learning things academically, to be applying them realistically, and to be working with fascinating historical objects. In short, I’m excited that this set-up is exactly what I was looking for. And the amazing location certainly doesn’t hurt.