Loved Scotland, but disappointed with the academics June 29, 2022

By (Biology, Middlebury College) - abroad from 01/17/2022 to 05/09/2022 with

University of St. Andrews: St. Andrews - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I loved exploring Scotland. I became really involved with the hiking club and loved the trips that they offered. That made it worth it.

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.

It was really hard to reach some professors (they did not respond to emails) and hard to get feedback on any assignments. I did not like that I only had 3 labs the whole semester for 2 science classes when I wanted more hands-on science experience. I understand that I'm coming from the American liberal arts model, but I do not understand how it is possible to learn when you cannot receive helpful feedback before turning in an assignment and I still have not been able to access any feedback from my final exams. In addition, there is no professor-student relationship at all.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was in David Russell Apartments which is the furthest from the town and so it was a 20 minute walk to go to class every day, but I did not mind. Also, it was a quiet area generally. However, I was put in a flat with 4 flatmates that refused to clean the kitchen and it was horrible. Also, there are cleaning inspections regularly and people may go through your stuff in your room (which I think is an invasion of privacy).

* Food:

Food was good! The only issue is that you can only pick one main serving and as many sides as you want. However, if you try to take a soup to go or another side to go the staff will yell at you. Also, I did not like that I was responsible for one meal a day since I wanted to be fully catered.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I did not feel like I was in Scotland in St. Andrews. My best times in Scotland were not in St. Andrews. St. Andrews is very English and very international.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt safe most of the time. However, walking back to DRA at night felt sketchy since there is very little lighting along the path. One of my study abroad friends said that she was followed home one time. Another study abroad friend of mine was egged by a passing car while we were walking.

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

I would rather go to Glasgow or Aberdeen University to get a more Scottish experience. St. Andrews was very international, so it was hard to meet locals.


* 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 did eat out quite a bit, and it was expensive.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 130
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook instead of eating out!


* 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
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local 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?
  • Exploring Scotland
* What could be improved?
  • Professor-student relationship
  • Academic feedback
  • Professor availability
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I had been more aware of how different the academics would be.

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:

Biology of Marine Organisms

Course Department: Biology
Instructor: Julie Oswald
Instruction Language: English
Comments: It was challenging, but I did not like that some professors were hard to reach. There was also one professor that never got through his slides in class but expected us to know all the material anyway. Only a couple professors felt well-prepared. Also, it was a different professor each week which made it very hard to get to know any of them. I participated about the same as I do at Middlebury. I was assessed with a research proposal, a lab report, making practice exam questions, and a final exam.
Credit Transfer Issues: Currently working on this!
Course Name/Rating:


Course Department: Biology
Instructor: David Shuker
Instruction Language: English
Comments: It was a more challenging topic for me and I enjoyed the material. I just wish there had been more lab work. We only had one lab in which we spent 3 hours drawing birds as a way to understand mate choice. One professor was easily reachable and offered great responses to my questions, but the other one that taught half the time was hard to reach and unprepared most of the time. There was no use of the location and no relevant field trips. I participated the same amount. I was assessed with a group presentation, a solo presentation, and a final exam.
Credit Transfer Issues: Currently working on this!
Course Name/Rating:

Literature and Ecology

Course Department: English
Instructor: John Burnside
Instruction Language: English
Comments: I loved the reading for this class and I thought the assignments were great (an essay, a poetry portfolio, and a final exam). I also was impressed by the professor's knowledge. However, I did not like that discussions were mainly the professor lecturing us and we were not expected to think on our own and speak up at all in class. Also, when we were supposed to have writing workshops, the professor just talked about poetry instead of giving us any time to write. I wish that I had been given a chance to talk and share my ideas. I rarely participated.
Credit Transfer Issues: Currently working on this!