A chaotic, important, and transformative semester Past Review

By (Politics, Brandeis University) - abroad from 09/04/2019 to 12/21/2019 with

IFSA: Scotland - Parliamentary Internship with the University of Edinburgh

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The experience abroad was absolutely worthwhile. Most people who go abroad find it transformative in one way or another, I did at least.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The courses have work, but it's very manageable if you get started on it at a reasonable time. The report at the end of the semester requires a lot of work, however, so I would absolutely recommend giving yourself a month to complete it.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Communication isn't always great between the program and students. Answers to questions are not usually helpful, and can often take a while to receive. The program administrators are very likable though.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing is the worst part of this program by far. The University of Edinburgh does not conduct proper upkeep of the site this program places you at. The plumbing is old and frequently nonfunctional. Certain flats do not have the proper kitchen space for five-six people. Additionally, the accommodation is attached to a dive bar which is often ridiculously loud late at night, every day of the week. Housing is the only significant issue with the program but is definitely a major one.

* Food:

Food in Edinburgh is typically pretty good. You'll be cooking for yourself a lot, and groceries are very inexpensive. There's a lot of stores and good restaurants near the accommodation, so it's no issue.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

People in Edinburgh are generally kind and respectful. Working in parliament also led me to feel wrapped up in Scottish politics and culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I was pretty sick twice while abroad, bad enough to require medical advice. The NHS hotline is a great resource, and they will help you receive necessary care even if you're not registered with a doctor. There are no prevalent health issues in Scotland necessitating vaccines, but the city is smoky and dusty. Healthcare is easier to acquire and virtually costless in Scotland.

* Safety:

I didn't once feel unsafe in Edinburgh, including nights where I would walk home alone past midnight.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No

I had an incredible time abroad, but I attribute that to the people in my program. Most of whom were delightful, however, I know that I got lucky with them. I wouldn't want to go through all of my experiences with a different group. Truthfully, one semester is plenty. Being away for so long is tough, even though it was a great time.


* 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)

Edinburgh is a cheap city, you can spend under £100 a week if you're budgeting properly.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? £91-200


* 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

  • Americans
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?
  • People
  • Internship
  • Location
* What could be improved?
  • Communication
  • Expectations
  • Visa process guidlines
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The visa process is a nightmare, I won't sugarcoat it. Be prepared, as long as you follow all the steps and trust that you're doing everything right you'll be fine. Start as soon as you can.

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.