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Introduction to my new world

Monday, 29 September 2014 Written by // Megan DePutter - Life Categories // Travel, Lifestyle, Megan DePutter

First impressions: Megan DePutter recently left her job working with an AIDS Service organization in Guelph, Ontario to move to Glasgow, Scotland. Here’s her first report from there.

Introduction to my new world

Megan has a new bio bio: 

Formerly the Womens Community Development Coordinator at HIV/AIDS Resources and Community Health in Guelph, Ontario, Megan now resides in Glasgow, Scotland, with her husband and cat.  Newly transplanted, Megan is learning to love haggis and whiskey while exploring the local cultural attitudes towards equality, accessibility, harm reduction, and HIV.


Introduction to my new world 

I could be at the Red Brick Cafe, or any coffee shop in Canada. Around me is the sound of clinking spoons and rattling china cups and the sound of milk being steamed in the cappuccino make r. . . 

Except Im not, Im in Scotland. 

Some things Ive noticed about Glasgow so far: People are friendly here. At least I think they are; I often cant make out what theyre saying. But people talk to each other here - more than they do back home, especially in Toronto, where everyone tries to pretend the other doesnt exist.

In Glasgow, its not uncommon to be offered help if you look lost, or have a stranger initiate conversation with you while you stroll down the street, or see a lively debate arise spontaneously among strangers. 

As for the important stuff, (the food and drink, of course) Scots do love their haggis; I thought it would be the kind of food that exists more in the imagination of foreigners than in real life - kind of like how people outside Canada might imagine that Canadians drench every meal in maple syrup. But not true: there is an abundance of opportunities to taste haggis here, both in its original form and in many moderninterpretations. One can find haggis burgers, haggis salad, haggis pie, haggis rolls, haggis ready-meals, haggis paninis, haggis pakoras, even haggis flavoured potato chips. Of course, Ive had to take the opportunity to try as many different formulations as possible. (So far, nothing beats the classic). 

Glasgow seems to be great a city. Its exciting to be in this city that is bursting with opportunity.  Its a city packed with culture: music, theatre, sport, food & drink, literature and history. But its difficult to start over, leaving behind my family, friends, community, most of my belongings, my house, my car, my job - a job I loved - and everything I know to be familiar. Every day, every task, is a new adventure - and if Im honest, a new challenge. 

Guelph, Ontario is a special community. It contains a lot of people working to address HIV, trauma, poverty and violence in a meaningful and constructive way. Id worked in nonprofit organizations in the past where the staff were drained of compassion or motivation. But in Guelph, there are countless inspired - and inspiring - people devoted to bettering the community. Guelph, it seems, is a magnet for people thoroughly committed to cultivating compassion and inclusiveness. Its not without its problems, like any town, but never have I felt so connected to a city and its people than in Guelph. 

Im devoted to finding homehere, though. And despite leaving many things behind, Ive still got the same interests and passions as I had back home. You can expect to hear more from me, with my expats eye on local - and Canadian - issues affecting HIV, harm reduction and equity. And haggis.

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