Victoria - University of Edinburgh

B Arts
Semester 2, 2017

Academic Experiences 

During my semester at the University of Edinburgh I studied Themes in Modern European History, Scottish Literature and The Making of the United States. Personally the transition between academic systems was relatively easy, in that the method of teaching and the content are pretty similar to what I would expect at UQ. However there are some differences when it comes to signing-on for tutorials and enrolling in classes (you get assigned at Personal Tutor who welcomes you to the uni and enrols you in classes, and course secretaries enrol you in tutorials). Also because the tutorials are so much smaller there tends to be much more work and reading associated with the courses, so make sure to do your readings!

Personal Experience 

I made some really great friends, some of whom welcomed me into their homes to meet their families and friends, so that made the transition easier as well. You could explore Edinburgh forever but there are bus tours going up to the Highlands and around the famous lochs and glens that are well worth the expense. There are also travel opportunities organised by one of the student associations that are also really popular. Be warned that if you haven’t heard the Scottish accent before it can be a bit confusing, but you get used to it. Soon enough you’ll be referring to everything as “wee”!

Accommodation 

Technically I lived off-campus, but my accommodation was all UoE students. Location wise Brae House was excellent, I lived next door to a royal palace and had a view of Arthur’s Seat from my kitchen window. It was about a 30 minute walk up the Royal Mile to uni and a 15 minute walk to the main shopping district and very close to a supermarket- so basically perfect. I was in a flat of 8, but as they had all only just graduated high school I was the oldest and dubbed “flat mum” so just be aware of that! My room was a really good size with lots of storage and an en-suite, we also shared a fully equipped kitchen. 
I think one of the things to remember is that you all have to live together in relatively close quarters for a couple of months so it’s best to try and be friendly and establish a relationship with everyone from the start. No one’s expecting you to be best friends with all of you’re flat mates but they are expecting you to be polite.

Budget 

Edinburgh is one of the most expensive cities in the world, so that makes things a bit difficult. I budgeted about $300 a week (£150 roughly) but I didn’t use all of that. I paid for my accommodation up front so I didn’t have to worry about changing exchange rates, I walked everywhere, I shopped the specials for my groceries and made a rough meal plan so I could buy up and freeze things as I went along. In terms of travel, particularly in the UK, it’s cheaper to travel by train, so you should spend the £30 to get a 16-25 railcard and get 30% off the price. If you want to travel to continental Europe flying is also relatively cheap, but make sure to book ahead. Just watch how much you’re spending and really think about whether or not you need something, remember you have to get everything home!

Academic Development and Employability 

I‘m a history student and one of the things tutors and lecturers really emphasised was historiography (basically how history written about in different schools of thought). This was really good for me as I have yet to actually engage much with the theory behind the writing of history at home. I feel it helped me gain a better understanding of what is expected in the professional world. The lecturers and tutors also pushed us to think about our thinking, asking ourselves why we think something and what evidence do we have to support it- they wanted to know what we thought, not just to regurgitate what someone else has said.

Highlight 

In truth it was a semester of awe inspiring experiences, so it’s hard to narrow it down! I think just landing in Scotland and settling in was a really good, happy experience. I worked hard to get to that point so it felt like an accomplishment.

Top Tips

Do it. It’s scary and exciting and all things in between but absolutely do it if you are thinking about it. You’ll be apart of an amazing community of international students studying at some of the most prestigious universities in the world. Take every opportunity that comes your way and run with it. I promise it’ll be one of the best experiences ever.