Deciding which university to go to is a big decision in itself, but an even bigger one if you are contemplating moving to an entirely different country. Coming from Denmark myself, I saw the UK as a wonderful international opportunity, and Scotland as the most financially logical one (although that aspect is a bit more up-in-the-air following Brexit).
After my first trip to the country I was hoping to spend the next four years in, complete with a carefully-planned road trip to five different Scottish universities, I placed my bets on Stirling. While I admit that it hasn’t always been the smoothest sailing, as starting something new always provides challenges, I can confidently say that I couldn’t be happier with my choice of both country and university.
With big decisions like these you have to go with your gut. Trust the feeling you have deep inside, and remember that the most important thing is not which university is “100% your type on paper” (sorry Love Island on the brain here) but which place you think will bring out the best in you. A lot of places can sound super-lovely on their websites, and then not really feel welcoming in person. Or the reverse – slow, hard to navigate websites can really put a person off, but the uni could be exactly what you were looking for when you visit.
Visiting the University of Aberdeen I got to have a chat with an English professor in his office that, I kid you not, had every single inch of the floor covered in books. While he did spend a good deal of time talking up the academics of the school, he also made it a point to warn me of the gloomy, weather-related depression that he felt Aberdeen had in store. Although the advice did feel a bit misplaced, as Denmark isn’t exactly the sunshine capital of the world, and actually has the approximate same seven hours of daylight as Scotland in the month of December, I did understand that what he truly meant was that your surroundings play a key role in your general well-being.
If you google “why Stirling?” the main focal point that no pictures nor descriptive reviews will let you ignore is that the “campus has its own loch & castle”. And if that doesn’t sell you, then I honestly don’t know what to tell you. The campus scenery is absolutely beautiful and anyone who has ever been, or even seen pictures, is bound to agree.
The only day that it didn’t rain on my trip was my visit to Stirling and, honestly, to me that was just the sort of welcoming sign I was looking for. Ever since then I’ve noticed that Stirling continues to have a special charm that comes out to impress visitors, with the sun shining on each open and visitors’ day.
Additionally, if you’re looking to make Instagram friends envious, the bridge at sunset (let’s be real – you won’t be up for a sunrise unless you’re on your way home from a night out) is the ideal location.
With that bit of personal endorsement aside, I want to go on with some advice that I hope will make an international move to this exceptional university even just a little bit less overwhelming.
The first thing you want to do is open a Scottish bank account. At the time, getting a proper SIM card may feel ten times more important, because you know, how else will you Snapchat your friends from home, or Facetime your mom asking how long after defrosting chicken is it safe for eating?
But hey, joke’s on you, because you’ll hurry to the Thistles Center, run in to visit the service provider whose advertisements irritated you the least, and ask if they can help get you sorted. They’ll sit you down, smile sweetly and then super casually ask for your UK bank account details. You know, the ones on the back of the card that HSBC said you could get after waiting two to three weeks for a consultation appointment first.
Let’s just say there are a lot of negatively-connoted words that could describe how I was feeling at that point. I quickly realized that convenience is key because when you’re in a new country, without a car or any family around to help, it’s easy to get frustrated and feel like you’re running in circles.
So, if I could do it over again, here’s what I’d do:
Speed-walk to Santander
When you’ve arrived, make it a first priority to head directly to the Atrium (straight across the bridge from accommodation) and visit Santander. Yes, it’s literally as close as it gets, and another bonus – they’re so used to clueless young adults having no idea what they are doing, that no question is a stupid question. You’ll fill out a form with some personal details, and while it does depend on how many applicants they are simultaneously processing, in about a week’s time you should have all you need mailed to your accommodation.
Yes, now you may go to the Thistles Center
When all those letters have arrived, bring all that important information with you to the Thistles Center, where you have the choice between Three, EE, O2, and Vodafone. One thing that might be worth doing before arriving here, is asking your native UK flatmates who already have service providers, whether they have decent service inside your flat. In my case, O2 seemed to be the only provider that had cell service inside ours, which left me as the sole designated caller of pizza and taxis.
Other than that side note, go with what suits your budget. There is pretty decent Wi-Fi coverage across campus, so whatever you choose, I’m sure you’ll manage.
I promise that after those two main things are sorted, you’ll feel a whole lot more capable and able to enjoy all that the University of Stirling has to offer.