by Désiree Schneider
Ranked 1st for its campus environment and for its quality lecturers and performance in Scotland and the UK by the International Student Barometer 2016, the University of Stirling is definitely popular for overseas students.
With 80 partner universities all across Europe, the USA, Asia, Australia and Canada, it is easily accessible and well-advertised.
Many people spend one or several semesters at Stirling University, do an exchange program or even do their whole degree programme here. But what draws young people to study abroad in Scotland?
Here are some answers from our current international students on how they have experienced their time here in Scotland and on campus:
“I took it as an adventure to emerge into a different culture and I had no fixed expectations. All I knew was that the University’s campus looked nice and there were lots of sheep. Now I know there is more: I love meeting new people, travelling the country and all the opportunities for jobs and education Scotland offers. The Scottish have their own culture, it is so different from the English – the way they talk and engage with each other, the food and their way of living. After being here for four years, I feel like I am part of the culture and Stirling feels like home.”
Chiara, 22, Italy, Economics and Marketing
“I am very much of an Irish soul; a part of my family comes from Ireland. I kind of expected Scotland to be exactly like it is. Like the weather: A bit of rain is nice, it is overcast, cold and windy, but very refreshing and unpredictable. The weather puts me at peace. It is also refreshing that everybody is so friendly. And what can be better than to walk by a golf course, a small castle and a loch just to get to your classes?”
Henry, 21, Massachusetts, USA, English with a focus on creative writing
What is Scotland for you?
“Doing my study abroad semester in Scotland was a good choice. I wanted to go to a native English speaking county to improve my English and have something to experience while travelling. And here it is: beautiful nature, various landscapes, nice people and even different weather. It is a totally new experience. I met a lot of cool people and international students of different nationalities. That is exciting! I already went on a trip around Scotland with Heartlandtravel and discovered even more of it on a road trip with my friends I did during reading week. Luckily, we had sunny weather. But even when it rains all day, it’s just perfect to read a book or two. Leisure time.”
Melina, 20, Germany, Journalism and Business Communication
“Actually, Scotland was not my first choice to study abroad due to the weather. I rather like it sunny and warm and Stirling University is well-known for its sports, but I am not good at sport. But despite all of that, I am really glad I came here. I fell in love with this place and the nature – everything is so green and natural. Humans do not seem to modify nature, instead they live with it and change their needs according to it. That is impressive. And the people are super friendly and so polite. Since I came here I use the words “sorry”, “thank you” and “please” a lot more. I feel like it makes me a better person. My family will be surprised when I get home for sure. But the Scottish people at university are really shy, that is not what I expected, but I will continue trying to make small talk – after all, I love to get to know new people.”
Sandra, 23, Czech Republic, Accounting and Finance
“Since I was a child it has been my dream to come and see Scotland. Now I am here and super excited. The landscape is beautiful, even though I have not been to the Highlands yet. The weather is cold but the people are warm. Scotland is really different from Italy. I love their culture, tradition and history. Scotland is a small country with love for their nation. I was sure that I would miss my family, friends, my dog and my country. But now I do not miss anyone apart from my dog. It is my home now.”
Carolina, 23, Italy, English Literature
“I wanted to go to an English-speaking country to improve my English and do something new, something I have not done before. I have been to the United States, but never to Scotland. And I have always been fascinated by Scotland and its nature. I like the mountains, lakes and the feeling that it is still untouched. I enjoy the different views in the Highlands like Glencoe and the Isle of Skye: beautiful weather, the sun was shining and I looked out to sea and there was blue as far as I could see. Combined with the cliffs and everything, it was amazing.”
Rebecka, 25, Sweden, Teacher’s Programme for History and English
Moments that define the students’ Scottish study abroad experience.
“It is already my second study abroad semester here at Stirling University. The first one was just to see how it would be – that is why I decided to come back. I came to Scotland because of the university. It has a good educational program and high teaching standards. I want to spend my Erasmus learning something, and the work here challenges me. I did not know anything about Scotland before I came here for the first time. I looked at the Stirling website’s photos; they looked promising and people back home highly recommended it to me. It was my first time coming to the UK, which is totally different from Spain, and the first time I travelled so far from home. But now I can say that all promises were kept. The people here are nice, polite and very helpful, the snow in the Highlands was impressive and Edinburgh became my favourite city.”
Diego, 20, Spain, Economics
“I have been to Scotland before on vacation, but living here is a once in a lifetime experience. I came here so that I can be in a different country, somewhere I can see a notable difference from back home. I also feel Irish in a way – my last name has Irish roots. It feels better than in America. I like the way it looks here and the way people talk. People care about each other and other countries, they are not self-centred. And I really appreciate the Scottish humour, their sense of irony.”
Amanda, 19, Pennsylvania, USA, undeclared
I am myself a study abroad student at Stirling University. I am currently in my second year of my Journalism and Business Communication studies. And I have to admit, I fell in love with this country. Scotland surely is enchanting.
I have already been here several times for a class trip or on family vacation, but I only visited as a tourist.
Even though I have only been here for two months – I could also say ”already two months”, because time is passing so fast – it feels like I am experiencing something totally different. It is no vacation, even though I travel a lot.
I put much effort into my studies, but it still feels different than university at home. I can experience the real Scotland and actually be part of it.
Which is all thanks to the amazing people I met here, no matter if they are other international students, regulars, teachers, the nice lady at the grocery store, the crazy guy who jumped into the cold waters of Loch Ness with me, my amazing flatmates, all the nice people who volunteered for the interviews or my best friend I came here with.
They are the ones that inspirit Scotland and made me fall in love with it, besides the stunning nature, which is unarguably Scotland’s embodiment: strong, wild, unpredictable, independent, manifold and yet astonishingly tempting.