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Why did you decide to study abroad?
How did you choose where to go?
When I was first deciding, I wanted to be in a predominantly English-speaking country, not in London, that was strong in both Economics and Environmental Science, my two areas of study. I also wanted to be in an area where it was cheap, safe, and relatively easy to travel to other countries. Basically, only the University of Edinburgh fit all these criteria.Can you briefly describe your program while abroad?
I was on a program with IFSA Butler, which started out with a very informative and helpful orientation that helped minimize the culture shock since I met other American students right away and received a lot of helpful advice. Throughout the program, we went on a few fun trips and stayed with a Scottish family for a weekend. This was great since it really got me to see the rest of Scotland, something I may not have taken the initiative to do on my own since, in many respects, it would have been more difficult to see other parts of Scotland than other cities in Europe if not for being on a program.What were some highlights or memorable moments of the experience for you?
Visiting the Isle of Skye was amazing and going gorge scrambling in the Argyll Forest was unforgettable. Also, living in front of Arthur’s Seat (literally a 5-10 minute walk to the base) was break-taking.
Two things: cooking for myself (which I adjusted to after the first couple of weeks) and the academic system. I never really got used to the fact that my finals were 50 to 85% of my grade and that there was no one checking up on you to make sure you did the reading for class throughout the semester, so it was hard to be motivated to sit in my room and study, rather than traipse around the city all day (though it was overcast or rainy most of the time…this is not just a myth!)
What advice would you give to prospective study abroad students?
Realize that you may not fit well into the academic system in the UK (or wherever you go), especially coming from a small US liberal arts school with lots of individual attention. Accept this because it will not overshadow your experience. Have a good time delving into the culture and meeting people; and don’t worry because you more than likely will have more than 4 days to study for finals.