A whole semester can't be summed up in one line. Past Review

By (Environmental Biology., Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/25/2013 to 05/07/2013 with

University of Aberdeen: Aberdeen - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Perspective. I definitely gained perspective more than anything else. Coming back to Middlebury I was excited about my education for the first time since my freshman semester and I was well rested enough to step back and prioritize the things that I need and/or want to do. I can't say that I had any particularly world shattering epiphanies, but I am coming back with much more clarity, energy and joy than I had when I left. It was 100% worthwhile, though I am glad to be back. Sometimes you have to leave to realize why your home is wonderful.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

resources available were extensive (more so than at Middlebury College), but expectations were quite a bit lower.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Following orientation (which was very helpful!) there was little support for non graduating students. Thankfully I didn't need any help with visas, transcripts, etc urgently, but it was a bit nerve wracking to not even know where I would go for help if I needed it.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in Hector Boece Court, fondly know to students as "The Ghetto". I lived in a flat of 6 girls, and I lived there in the last year before renovations were scheduled. Our flat consisted of 6 bedrooms, a large bathroom with 1 shower and 3 sinks, 2 toilet stalls, and a small kitchen. There was no lounge space. I really liked by flatmates, but if I hadn't it would have been horrible! Hector Boece was generally pretty quiet because no one wanted to party there, but on occasion you'd get a loud flat. Partying can happen any day of the week (and sometime every day of the week) because UA is not a particularly rigorous school and pub culture is really important! However, despite drinking like fish, most students (and people more generally) rarely go out and get wasted. It's a bit looked down upon.

* Food:

I was in self catered accommodation, so the food I cooked was good, but more generally the food in the UK is pretty boring. It's not bad, but it's not something to rave about like you might in Italy, France, Mexico, etc. Oban, on the west coast, has really great seafood!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was friends with a fiddler, so he and I would go to folk music club meetings at least once a week where all the musically inclined locals would meet in a pub to drink and play music. They welcome newcomers and listeners. My flatmates were mostly Scottish, so I also hung out with them a lot, as well as some of their families. Scottish culture isn't terribly different from American culture, so it was not difficult to adjust.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Information was given on how to get access to healthcare during orientation, however, I never needed it. Healthcare is free, but scheduling can be difficult (or so I gather).

* Safety:

I never felt unsafe and I did do a bit of walking around the city alone, at night as a woman. However, they do warn you during orientation about a few places you do NOT want to go after dark and those warnings are worth listening to. Public transportation at all times is quite safe and heavily used by all economic classes. My flat was locked automatically, and my room was lockable. There was a lockable drawer in my room, but I never felt the need to use it.

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)

Everything costs 1.5 to 2 times as much in the UK as it does in the US. Thankfully my parents were supporting me, but it was difficult to bring costs down much.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I can't remember what housing cost per week as I paid up front for the whole semester. However, I spent over $100 a week on food each week, and somewhere between $15 and $50 on trains and buses. I did not do much shopping, but things are about 1.5 to 2 times more expensive.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you're going to ride the bus a lot get a bus pass, but do the math first to see if it's worth it. Buses in Aberdeen are really expensive.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • 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?
  • very self-directed academically
  • local music!
  • nearer to the Highlands and Islands than Edinburgh, but not as crazy of a city as Glasgow.
* What could be improved?
  • better support for non-graduating students following orientation
  • assistance with figuring out visas both before (at Middlebury) and after (at Aberdeen) traveling would have been very helpful
  • Aberdeen should make it easier for new non-graduating students arriving in January to sign up for societies
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? A working knowledge of the public transportation available to me in Aberdeen and in the rest of the UK, and the knowledge that the University wasn't going to work me too hard if I didn't want to work hard so weekend trips are very possible!

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 Avid Adventurer
The wardrobe you packed was better suited for a semester of camping than club hopping. Outdoorsy, you might forgo a crazy night out for an early all-day adventure. You'd rather take in the rich culture of an old town than the metropolis of a modern city, but for you getting off the grid is ideal.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Ocean Biology

Course Department: Biology
Instructor: Andy Yule
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Class attendance was poor, but I recommend going to lectures. Lectures were taught by a number of different professors and were quite good individually. However, there was little cohesion from lecture to lecture. Labs were all dissections, and though instructive, were stressful due to short time limits. Lab write ups were a joke. A working knowledge of basic statistics and Minitab was necessary.
Credit Transfer Issues: No problems.
Course Name/Rating:

Topics in Plant and Soil Science

Course Department: Biology
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Really well organized! Course was taught in a number of 2 week modules each taught by a different professor. Exam questions were modeled after each module, but were extremely detailed. Labs were interesting and informative. Professors were very accessible. Attendance was low at lectures, but they are worth going to!
Credit Transfer Issues: no problems.
Course Name/Rating:

Celtic Scotland

Course Department: History
Instructor: Dumville
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Lecturer was boring, disorganized, and not particularly informative. Exam was quite detailed, but lecture material wasn't really covered. A study guide was given which was good because lecture had no discernible structure and the material wasn't covered. The library has a TON of books relating to this course which are worth investigating. Discussion sections, taught by junior professors, were usually interesting and much more informative than lectures.
Credit Transfer Issues: no problems.
Course Name/Rating:

Animal Physiology

Course Department: Biology
Instructor: Eddie Brede
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I'm a plant person myself so I didn't exactly enjoy this course, but it was quite good. Lectures were individually good since different professors taught different lectures and each was an expert on what they were teaching. Professors did not communicate however so the course could be a little disjointed. However, overall the course was well organized, informative and interesting. Exam was extremely detailed, but not as much as I expected from the content of the lectures and readings. Labs were easy, but fun and interesting, and heavily focused on experimental methods and lab etiquette.
Credit Transfer Issues: No problems