Best decision I ever made, no regrets! Past Review

By (HISTORY., Central Connecticut State University) - abroad from 01/18/2012 to 05/30/2012 with

ISA Study Abroad in Glasgow, Scotland

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned so much from this experience, and mostly outside the classroom. Fully immersing yourself in a different culture is the most shocking and rewarding thing you can do for yourself. You truly learn how other people live, think, enjoy themselves, learn, and view others. I came back home with a different perspective on my own country! America has a very fast-paced life and other countries, Scotland in particular, prefer to relax and take their time and enjoy the moment. It was so refreshing, I didn't want to leave!

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.

The education system in The United Kingdom is very different from the US. They don't have regular "class", rather they have lectures and tutorials, which often only meet once a week each. It was a bit jarring at first, especially when I saw the finals were worth 60% of my grade! You are required to do much more independent study which takes a few weeks to get used to, but you do eventually get the hang of things! The teachers are more than willing to help you with anything you need.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The university had an on-site orientation presentation for all of the international students (there were over a thousand) when we first got there. They basically went over the nuts and bolts of the university, where we can find everything, who to ask for help, how to get into our flats, etc. They allowed an hour of socialization among ourselves afterwards but they shoved us into a room and said "talk to each other!", so that was a bit awkward. It probably would have been better if they were more interactive with us and maybe did some type of icebreakers or something. They did, however, do a fantastic weekly pub night. Every week they would sponsor a pub night for all of the international students at a different pub. It was a great way to mingle (with a little liquid courage) and to see the city and meet locals as well. Really, really fantastic idea!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The housing at Strathclyde is great. It isn't a luxury resort, but you have your own room which is VERY nice. I wasn't really sure why they had a section on the housing application for what type of person you would like to live with, because I don't think they even look at it, at least not for me. But hey, living with difficult people builds character and certainly provides for some experiences you wouldn't have otherwise had. Who knows, you might end up meeting your best friend who is your exact opposite, I did!

* Food:

The University of Strathclyde doesn't have a cafeteria type of building like universities in America. I don't think any universities in Scotland do actually, but I could be wrong. The flat they place you in has a nice size kitchen, so you are responsible for buying all your own food and cooking it. Morrison's is the best grocery shop, but if you're on a super tight budget go to Aldi!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Scottish people are the most friendly I have ever met! They love America and Americans and are so curious about the things we do, see, believe, etc. I had many interesting and downright hilarious conversations with complete strangers. It's definitely a good idea to able to laugh at yourself and America because the rest of the world loves to do that, but the Scots are extremely self-deprecating, so you're going to enjoy doing it as well. Lovely country, and really lovely and friendly people.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

While abroad I had the unfortunate experience of getting strep throat, or tonsillitis as they call it, and had to go to the hospital. The actual campus does have a health facility, but I noticed my throat getting really bad on a weekend so of course the office was not open. The hospital was very easy to find, a quick ten minute walk from campus and I was able to get an appointment pretty quickly. The one thing that almost sent me running to the hills, however, was when they had to take some blood to test for glandular fever (whatever that is). My mother is a nurse and I have gotten my blood taken before so I know the procedure. First, they find your vein, then they clean your arm with an alcohol wipe, and then so on and so forth. Except in this hospital (and maybe all of the UK), there was no cleaning of my arm. There was my vein and then there was a needle in it. That really freaked me out. I thought this to be the most basic, routine thing to do when in a hospital. It's a small thing, but it really had me wondering exactly how sterile the environment was. Anyway, they gave me antibiotics and my strep throat went away after a week and I never got a bill, but I am VERY thankful I never had anything more serious because I would have really hesitated on going to the hospital after that.

* Safety:

I walked home alone from clubs at three in the morning more times than I count when I studied in Glasgow. Obviously I know this is not the best idea and is dangerous, but it happens. One of the first times I left a club, I did my ritual late-night McDonald's run and was walking home eating my food, talking on the phone to a friend in America, and racking a monster phone bill for my mother (sorry Mom!). I was a good three minutes away from my flat when I approached a corner with five men walking towards me. I immediately started to panic a little, telling my friend on the phone she can have all my clothes and to take care of my dog. One of the men began to walk right towards with his arms open and before I know he had picked me. Yes, you read that right. But he didn't hurt me. He picked me up and started twirling me around and singing. He was dancing with me! They were all singing and one of the others took a turn swirling me around and then put me down and joined the rest of the group who continued on their way down the sidewalk, singing. It was really unbelievable. I told my friend I was okay when I finally got back on the phone and that if I was in America I probably would have been dead (no offense America, but let's be real). It's safe to say that Glasgow is a really great city. You do need to watch out for yourself, just as in any big city, but overall the Scots are just super friendly people!

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


* 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)

Money is the number one reason why most people don't study abroad, and after living in another country for five months I understand. I worked all summer and winter and saved up over $5,000 to spend while in Scotland. I spent every penny, plus my tax return. Food and travel weren't the problems because travel is actually pretty cheap when you are there. My problem was shopping. I love buying clothes, shoes, purses, etc. You name it, I bought, in five different colors. That was definitely my Achilles heal over there and it ended up costing me from going on a trip I really wanted to. So be realistic with yourself and set up a plan. Don't be too rigid though. Some of the best time I had were weekends we decided to go away for on a Friday morning. Be spontaneous and DO spend all of your money. But do it the right way. Checking an extra bag for all of the stuff you bought is not fun.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $5,000+
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? RyanAir is a really cheap airline. They can be sort of sketchy when it comes to luggage so I only recommend it for day trips but I once went to Dublin and back for only 22 pounds!


* 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 housed with other international students who were in the same boat as me.
  • How easy it was to apply.
  • The amount of information they provided about the university, city, and country as a whole before you even left. It was all really helpful.
* What could be improved?
  • The on-site orientation in Glasgow could have been more interactive and detailed.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew what a shop-aholic I am.

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 Nearly Native or Trail Blazer
Craving the most authentic experience possible, perhaps you lived with a host family or really got in good with the locals. You may have felt confined by your program requirements and group excursions. Instead, you'd have preferred to plan your own trips, even skipping class to conduct your own 'field work.'