Jackson is studying Neuroscience with Psychology, originally hailing from Georgetown, Texas.
So let's begin this blog with the whys of the matter.
The world seems like such a tiny place. It was that thought, and the idea of something more that brought me to Aberdeen. At the time of visiting it was quite literally the furthest north I'd ever been. Like way, way up. Practically the North Pole for a kid from Texas. The seemingly remoteness of it struck me as something unique, some experience that could be genuine, or just my own.
Studying here has been quite literally amazing. I originally came over to study Economics & International Relations, but have since switched to Neuro as I previously mentioned. I'm aiming for Med School in the future, and I think this experience will set me (in some small way) apart from the crowd. Classes tend to be standard what-you'd-expect University lectures. The lecturers themselves all have great banter, and really help set the tone.
Looking back on my first arrival, I was pretty culture-shocked. Drinking's the norm, but it didn't hold the stigma it held back home. That being said, it's really not so bad, and it doesn't hold any peer pressure that you'd feel in a party back home. Besides that, first arrival was pretty sweet. I'm still great friends with the same guys I met in first year, and it feels like a pretty unique experience due to all of us coming from different places in the world.
On halls, it's an opportunity you can't afford to pass up. It's grueling at times, but more often than not it feels more like home than you'd initially imagine. It makes it easy to ease into Scottish culture, and to see into an incredibly welcoming city & university.
I'm sure prospective students have a hard time explaining everything to their parents, especially why they're wanting to leave home so far behind to venture into the world. For that, I really don't have a clear answer, or any advice that's particularly good. All I know for me is that it was something I needed to do, plain and simple. Obviously I chose to come here, but it was just one of those things I knew was right, and that I knew I needed to do. My parents understood that, and I'm sure most would - it's just part of growing up and making your own choices.
So all in all, I'd tell you to come at least for a visit. The opportunities are endless if you truly apply yourself to finding them. Europe itself is only a plane ride away, and presents itself for all the weekend trips you could ask for. There are sporting events literally all of the time for those more in that mindset. Or, for the less travel inclined, there's a society for every interest you could have here on campus. It's just so worth it.
So give it a shot.
Studying Economics with International Relations, Madeleine gives an insight into life in Scotland as a University of Aberdeen undergraduate student.
I decided to study in Scotland because of the prestigious reputations of Scottish Universities as well as the location, which has given me the opportunity to travel and explore Europe.
The University of Aberdeen is a good match for me because of its manageable size, secluded, yet urban campus, and the structure of its degree programs. My course, Economics with International Relations, is similar to a double major degree. It allows me to focus equally on each subject. My parents were always supportive in my choice to study abroad. They were worried about the distance, but I agreed to call them once a week. Facetime audio has been essential for my time in Aberdeen.
The transition to Scotland has been marked by the diverse group of people I have met as well as the immense amount of independence given to students. The university is almost 30% international, for this reason assimilating to Scottish culture is certainly not done alone. My British flatmates were very helping in explaining unfamiliar slang and answering the question, “So what exactly is in haggis?”. I mostly spend time with students from Scotland, Sweden, Finland, and Norway. I have found that my accent is a perfect icebreaker. I think it is important, as an international student, to remember that you represent your country to strangers and to be understanding when asked about stereotypes you don’t identify with.
The biggest difference between American colleges and Scottish universities is the amount of independence you have. The final grade in most classes is determined about 80% by the final exam. The structure of classes means the majority of studying and learning is done independently. Another measure of independence is being able to cook for yourself. Most first year students do not have a meal plan, which was intimidating for me at first, but I’ve really enjoyed learning how to cook.
Sports and Societies (or clubs) are essential to social life at Aberdeen Uni. Sports are more relaxed and social then at American colleges. There is no game day equivalent and school spirit is not a concept familiar to most. The more laid back attitude towards sports makes it easier to balance studies with a sport. There are a broad range of societies. A lot of international students join the Whisky Society or the International Society. Both of these societies offer opportunities to explore Scottish culture.
The city of Aberdeen is medium sized and easy to navigate. I have never felt unsafe in Aberdeen, but it is always a good idea to travel in groups, especially at night. I have had the opportunity to explore Scotland with other international students. Now having been in Scotland for almost two years, I have seen my fair share of castles, the best one being Dunnottar Castle, a 15 minute train ride from Aberdeen. The biggest perk of being surrounded by other international students is their willingness to explore Scotland as well as having a free place to stay during European vacations. Since beginning university, I have been able to travel to Norway, Sweden, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, as well as Copenhagen airport!
The thing I like best about the University of Aberdeen is the freedom to study what I am interested because there are no compulsory classes outside my degree program. I also like the city itself, it is a manageable size and very student friendly. Although the winters can be dark, Aberdeen is beautiful in the spring and summer. During the spring semester the sun doesn’t set until past 10 and daffodils cover the parks.
Alex is currently studying Politics and International Relations as part of her undergraduate degree. Here, she tells us about her decision to study at the University of Aberdeen, and what is has been like so far.
Alex on why she decided to study in Scotland: "I wanted to live in a country that was different enough from home but then not so different that I would have culture shock. I wanted to experience another culture by being immersed in it."
What attracted her to the University of Aberdeen: "The campus and the town size. The campus is beautiful and the town is that perfect size that it’s not overwhelmingly big or so small that there is nothing to do...It is pretty much the right size, not too big to get lost all the time but not so small that you run out of things to do. I have always felt safe in Aberdeen. It is very easy to get off of campus and to travel throughout Scotland. I have also travelled quite a lot throughout Europe by either taking the bus or flying from Aberdeen airport."
On Halls of Residence: "Student halls are interesting. A time where you figure out how to do laundry, clean and most importantly, how to cook...you will have the best and worst moments in halls which tends to be its own microcosm where all your friends are 30 seconds away and always ready to hang out, even if it is 11.30pm."
Best bits about studying at the University of Aberdeen: "The experiences you gain. It's not just about a really good higher education but also what you learn outside of class like how to pay bills, or book a trip over to the ‘continent’ for the weekend."
Any advice? "Apply for your Visa as early as possible and have an open mind."