Edinburgh – University of Edinburgh

Reasons people went to this university/place

  • Amazing city (neither too big nor too small), lovely Scottish accent, the university offered many interesting linguistics classes which I still needed for my degree, recommendation of a friend who went to Edinburgh a year before, the possibility to stay one semester only (which I later regretted doing).

Recommended semester to go there

  • For me there was no option but to choose the winter semester. I was lucky to experience an untypically mild winter, but in other cases the Scottish weather might be rough during that time. If it is possible, choose the summer term. It would probably be better weatherwise.

Before going there

Accommodation experiences

  • A shared flat (privately rented) in Edinburgh (close to Arthur’s Seat) which I got through a friend who stayed there as well a year ago. The flat was not part of the university’s offer. I shared it with three other international students; it was 10min walk from university and 15min the city center which was great. I would definitely recommend the area in Newington. I didn’t need any public transport which helped save some money

Special items to pack

  • weatherproof clothing (Scotland’s weather can be quite changeable – it might be sunny with no clouds and suddenly start raining ten minutes later); adapter (as usual in the UK)

How people who went there handled their finances

  • As I just stayed 3.5 months I was recommended not to open a bank account. I simply took my debit card from home with me and every time I ran out of money I withdrew the maximum I could get (400€ in GBP) from the cash machine. For larger expenses (e.g. book flights, travelling) I used my credit card. When staying a full year, it might be useful to open a bank account, but in my case I was totally satisfied with the way I handled my finances and it saved me the ‘troubles’ of opening and closing a new account and transferring money back and forth.

University Information

Rough semester schedule

  • Winter semester starts at the beginning of September (first week is Fresher’s week though, with no classes at university; attending this week is still very useful as all societies and sports club are presented at fairs and it’s a great week to meet some friends). Semester ends at Christmas.
  • Summer semester then starts right after the Christmas holidays.

Holidays during the semester

  • There was one week off before essays were due and exams started, which was called ‘reading week’. Otherwise, there was no longer holiday. Classes finished quite early – around 24 November.

Number of ECTS the university expected former exchange students to do

  • The university wanted me to do the full load first (30 ECTS = 60 credits). Eventually, due to the courses I had left back at the University of Vienna and problems with course recognition, I only had to do 20 ECTS which was fine by the host university as well (each course has 10ECTS, so I did ‘only’ 2 courses).

Course restrictions and when the university informed students about those

  • No, I did not experience any problems with course restrictions whatsoever.

Did the university actually offer the classes students originally planned to do?

  • No, they didn’t. By the time I had to first ‘choose’ courses the new course list was not yet available and one course I initially planned to do was then not available. Changing courses in the first week of the semester was also no problem at all.

Recommended  courses/modules

  • ‘Origins and Evolution of Language’ was very interesting and the workload was appropriate – one exam and one 2000-word essay.

Exam period

  • Exams take place during the last two weeks before Christmas.

How exams look like

  • The only ‘normal’ exam I took lasted 2 hours and consisted of a number of short-essay questions. I had to answer 7 out of 10 questions.

Important deadlines

  • Essays do have very strict and important headlines, but the exact date depends on the lecturer and is not the same for every course.

Other information

Recommended restaurants, cafes, bars, shopping centers, etc.

  • There are plenty of nice pubs/restaurants as well as bars and clubs in the city, especially on and around Grassmarket, in Edinburgh’s ‘old town’; Teviot (students’ union bar/restaurant) is perfect for students (good quality but still cheap). Also, there are very good Indian restaurants in the city.
  • Best cafés: press coffee, Kilimanjaro, brew lab, black medicine (avoid big chains like Starbucks, Costa, or Pret a Manger for coffee).

Recommended secret spots in the city/town

  • A walk around “Dean Village” is a must-see and not as famous as other sights in the city.

Recommended day trips

  • Plenty of cheap buses (or trains) take you to Stirling, St. Andrews, Glasgow, North Berwick, etc. There are free day trips into the highlands (google for ‘hairy coo’ trips).

Recommended places or events to meet new people/make new friends

  • In order to meet other internationals, join trips and events organized by the Erasmus network (ESN) or join at least one or two societies or sports clubs. That’s the best place to find like-minded people (different to Austria, people in the UK usually do not socialize a lot during lectures or courses)

Public transport offered in the city/area of the University

  • Most people walk or ride bikes and the bus network is pretty well developed. There is one tram that goes to the airport but the bus is cheaper. Bus tickets can be bought directly at the driver (exact amount of cash needed) or via a mobile app. Monthly public transport tickets are only useful if one needs to use public transport regularly – if the accommodation is carefully chosen you will not need public transport to get to university.

Other recommendations

Is this University the right place for me?

You should spend your semester/year abroad at this university or place

  • if you like a nice mix of nature and city (beautiful places/many parks + opportunities to go out and have fun in clubs or pubs)
  • because there are hundreds of possibilities for all different kinds of sports and societies
  • if you like living in a city that constantly reminds you of Harry Potter
  • if you love good cafés and restaurants
  • if you like meeting people from all over the words
  • because it is probably the best city one can spend his/her semester abroad at

You should not spend your semester/year abroad at this university or place

  • if you want to live in a really big city
  • if you want a cheap place to spend your semester abroad
  • if you want to hear people speaking RP all the time
  • if you want constantly warm and sunny weather

(all information provided is based on 1 filled out questionnaire)