Imogene - University of Edinburgh

Bachelor of Arts
Semester 1, 2018
Stick with the application process and embrace the uncertainty as much as you can. If you want to do this, do everything in your power to make it happen - you will never regret this experience!

Academic experience

Edinburgh is absolutely the best place I could have chosen to study my double major in history and writing. Not only is Edinburgh full of history and has provided a home and inspiration to many authors (Arthur Conan Doyle, JK Rowling and many others studied at the university itself for example), the university has a huge amount of resources and collections, including its collection of rare books on the 6th floor of the main library. The courses I studied were:
-  Gender and Society: Men and Women in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500 (HIST10072)
- Creative Writing Part II: Prose (ENLI10211)
- The White Man's Burden: Race, Gender and the Victorian Empire (HIST10383)
It's always easier to receive credit for exchange units as electives, but I did receive credit towards Creative Writing: Non-Fiction (WRIT3050) at UQ for ENLI10211 in Edinburgh. The rest counted toward an unspecified level 2 history and electives.
Third year courses are at Edinburgh are 'honours' courses, but this has little bearing on you as an exchange student - they are about the same difficulty as you would expect a 3rd year course to be at UQ. Edinburgh prefers to run 3rd year courses as single seminars, rather than lectures and tutorials, which I found actually gave me a bit more free time.

Personal experience

I always have found travel to be such an important part of expanding your own perspective and developing self-confidence and independence. Living overseas is an incredible opportunity to grow as a person, and prove to yourself that you can overcome many kinds of challenges. It amazes me how many great experiences I had overseas that I could never have planned for or predicted. From the friends I made who showed me around their city or even gave me a place to stay, to the complete stranger who offered to pay my bus fare to help me get home when I was caught in a snowstorm. To name a few must-sees in Scotland, we took some amazing bus tours into the highlands to the Trossarchs, Loch Lomond, Glen Coe's three Sisters, and also made our own trips out. During Innovative Learning Week (which is like a study week) we stayed in Inverness and made trips out to Loch Ness and Cullodden, all three of which I found amazing, and perfect for a short trip out. In Edinburgh, just try to do everything you can. It's a brilliant place with a thousand things to do - I think you could spend years there without seeing it all.

Accommodation

I stayed in the university catered accommodation at Pollock Halls. It's really conveniently located, a beautiful half hour walk or short bus ride from the central George Square campus, and at the base of beautiful Arthur's Seat. I was originally in Holland House, but as luck would have it I was upgraded for free to Chancellor's Court as Holland was undergoing renovations. Chancellor's court is the most expensive of the buildings and people generally agreed it's the nicest, as it's also the newest building. I saw some of the renovated rooms in Holland and they were definitely the most modern-looking rooms of any of the buildings. I'd say both Holland and Chancellor's are lovely to stay in, and are the two buildings with ensuite rooms, which is really nice and convenient to have, but the shared bathrooms in other houses aren't shared between a lot of people and are always kept very clean. The main difference between Holland and Chancellor's is that Holland is a further walk away from the cafeteria (JMCC) and the other buildings (but not by too much), and Chancellor's has really impressive common spaces and is right next to JMCC, and the main entrance, though Holland is closer to the side entrance. Having catered accommodation was great for socialising with my friends from halls and it was a huge advantage to not have to worry about meals while I was overseas. The food is quite good - and I will say the hot chocolate was amazing :,). The incredible staff at JMCC even kept us fed during the no travel warning during the Beast From the East snowstorm, so really I can't sing their praises enough.

Costs

Accommodation costs can vary greatly depending on where you choose to stay.   Self-catered tends to be cheaper, and some supermarkets are more affordable than others, such as Lidl. The buses are fairly reasonable, at 1 pound 90 for a single trip ticket and 4 pounds for a day ticket, but they do not give you change. Make sure to download the Lothian buses app, that way you can download tickets straight onto your phone and not have to worry about wasting money when you don't have the exact change. Taxis were quite cheap in comparison to what I've had to pay in Australia at times. It's about 4-5 pounds from Pollock to the uni campus in the city centre - which is quite reasonable when splitting the cost between people. I recommend using Central Taxis, which is like Uber, with a similar app, but with more fixed rates. Our cab driver from the airport turned off the meter and gave us an amazing tour of the city, as they are also trained tour guides. If you're travelling by train, make sure you book at least 24 hours in advance for a sizeable discount compared with what you would have to pay on the day.

Professional Development

Going to Edinburgh has made my career path a lot more clear. As an arts student, going to such a renowned cultural centre was an invaluable experience. It has shown me what careers are out there, and connected me with so many more people and places that can help me reach my goals. Being an Edinburgh alumnus also gives you access to the university's resources and alumni network even after your exchange has finished.

Highlight

My number one highlight of my exchange was the amazing people I met and travelled with. I was lucky enough to be on exchange with a friend from home, and we befriended people with the same interests as us. Some of my favourite memories from exchange are attending university society events with them and just hanging out, having pizza nights and movie marathons. We even got to travel with the friends we made after the semester had ended.

Top tips

My main piece of advice is to really make the most out of living overseas. One of my favourite parts of my experience was living like an Edinburgh local, and meeting other students studying full-time at the university. I think it's definitely a great opportunity to visit other countries that are so close by, and I definitely did my fair share of travelling in the UK and Europe, but don't forget it's not every day that you get to live overseas. Immerse yourself in the culture. Scotland is an incredible place to explore, so make sure you make your way into the highlands. It doesn't have to just be a jumping-off point to see other places, and you don't have to just be a tourist. Make sure to make the place your home while you are there.