An Incredible City December 26, 2017

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 09/05/2017 to 12/22/2017 with

IFSA: Edinburgh - University of Edinburgh

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was definitely worthwhile! I learned a lot about how to face challenges on my own, and how to welcome new experiences instead of shying away from them. Living on your own in a foreign city is daunting, but makes you such a better person at the end!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

My classes were very hit or miss: I took a great sociology class and a terrible education one-- I would suggest sticking to the third year classes and reading the syllabi carefully before choosing them. I had less class time, and they were much more lecture focused. I was warned that I would have a good amount of reading outside of class, but it seemed that most students did not do the recommended reading. I definitely had less work than at Brandeis.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

IFSA-Butler was always there through phone or email if I needed them, held a number of events for the program, and held weekly office hours on campus. That being said, after orientation they let us be: they were not a part of my daily routine and although I did not do this, I could have gone the rest of the semester without seeing them if I wanted.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was in Sciences, the self-catered flat, with 3 other roommates. It was perfectly fine, nothing special-- basically a couple dorm rooms with a common room and kitchen. But they're cleaned weekly and work completely fine.

* Food:

I generally cooked my own food, and sometimes went out to eat. Groceries were pretty cheap, and the kitchen in self-catered flats is stocked with some pots and cooking materials. Going out to eat can get expensive, but there are some cheap places popular with university students as well.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was in class with University of Edinburgh students, who were from all around the world, I became close friends with students from England, and I lived with people from China, Japan and Malaysia. This was by far the most international experience I've ever had, and Edinburgh is definitely a very international city. Getting involved in clubs is the best way to feel like you're a part of the campus (which, because it's in the center of the city, can feel a little spread out)

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had to get a couple doses of a medication while I was abroad, and the program was very well-informed of this and helped me throughout the process. I had contacted them beforehand trying to set up appointments, and while there were definitely some issues receiving the medication, that was regarding miscommunications with doctors in Edinburgh, not the program. The program gave us private insurance that covered everything I needed.

* Safety:

Edinburgh felt completely safe-- it gets dark pretty early in the winter, but I felt fine walking around the city alone at night. If it gets to be really late, walk home with a friend, but as long as you're with one other person it never feels unsafe.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

IFSA-Butler was really helpful whenever I needed them, and Edinburgh was a great city that was a privilege to live in for four months.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

I only spent about the equivalent of $35 a week on food since groceries were pretty cheap, and I stocked up on the basics the first week I got there. I usually went out for dinner once or twice a week, but I rarely spent more than 15 pounds and that was my personal choice. Other than food, there wasn't much I spent money on weekly.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? About $35
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook your own meals, and if you're going out, limit how many drinks you buy at clubs/bars-- they can get really expensive.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Being immersed in the University
  • The history of Edinburgh
  • The support from IFSA-Butler
* What could be improved?
  • Orientation was impersonal
  • University classes could be chose with more guidance
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had been prepared that the University of Edinburgh really does not have the same campus feel as small schools in the U.S. Students live all over the city, and while there are a ton of clubs, their events they hold are mainly for the members themselves-- there aren't many campus-wide events.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!