Best Decision I Have Ever Made March 30, 2019

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/08/2018 to 12/21/2018 with

University of Edinburgh: Edinburgh - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained a lot of independence. I was mortified of the idea of traveling alone and now I am pro at it. I also gained really close friendships with people from all over the world. I had never left the country before, so it was just an incredible experience that gave me a serious case of wanderlust.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I wasn't particularly rigorous, but I honestly wasn't looking for that from my study abroad experience. You're able to take classes across the University, and so if you are looking for rigor it is certainly available.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The few times I had confusions or problems that needed administrative guidance I got replies incredibly quickly. They are very helpful.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I lived in a self-catered flat run by the university. I loved it. Cooking for myself was so nice, and it was cheaper than being on a meal plan for sure. Being in massive classes makes it a bit hard to connect with people in class, so being in student accommodations was a great way to make friends with students actually at the university.

* Food:

Scottish food, is not known for being great... But there were some great student budget friendly spots for junk food late at night and besides that I was really cooking for myself, so I was able to control my budget and cook things they way I liked.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Edinburgh is a city, so it really isn't all that different than being in Boston. There are just more castles and bagpipes. Going into the countryside is lovely and I can't recommend it enough to get a more full picture of what Scotland is really like.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I got super sick one night and had to go to the ER. It was the easiest experience I have ever had with a medical institution. I came in expecting all these problems since I am not a UK or EU citizen, but they just let me see a doctor, I got my problem resolved, and I left without paying anything.

* Safety:

It is a city, so you have to use common sense, but I personally felt incredibly safe all the time even walking through the park to my apartment alone late at night.

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)

This was my biggest fear heading into my semester abroad, and it is a bit hard to address generally since it varies so much person to person. The hardest part of expenses personally was buying airfare before getting my financial aid, but I was fortunate to have a family member help me cover that upfront. I had also been saving for personal expenses for over a year to make sure I was in a good spot and I could do what I wanted to do while I was abroad without considering the finances too much. My best advice is to try and save as much as possible before hand, and then buy essentials as cheap as possible while you're there so you have money for experiences and nice souvenirs when cool opportunities arise. One weird and unexpected expense was that to join clubs you pay a dues. The cost varies a lot based on the club (athletics are expensive), but I wasn't expecting it and I think it discouraged me from getting more involved in campus life which was a bit disappointing.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? In a typical week I probably spent $50-60 on groceries a week and another $20-30 on going out to restaurants or grabbing a train somewhere.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Shop at the cheapest grocery store it really doesn't make that much of a difference on most things. If you want to travel other places (you should!), then unless there is a particular place you have been dreaming of going your whole life then go where it is cheaper you'll have fun and learn things regardless. In Scotland all museums are free which saves a TON of money. It is amazing.


* 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

  • 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?
  • Integrated with local students
* What could be improved?
  • More information before arrival about what to expect
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew how great of a time I was going to have, so I wouldn't have wasted so much time being nervous about it beforehand. Also jetlag is very real and very painful, but you get through it.