I write you, just about to begin exam period in Edinburgh, with only 3 weeks to go before the end of my exchange.
Edinburgh is a beautiful old city, the gateway to a paradise of hiking and outdoors sports in the Highlands. Edinburgh’s delightful weather is not the reason why I came here, but I can certify that its better than Groningen. Minus 6 degrees and cycling? No, thank you… Oh, and Edinburgh University is constantly ranked within the 20 best universities in the world.
I guess I got your attention now.
You get to study here and you are allowed to walk on the grass.
Why come to Edinburgh?
I chose Edinburgh because I wanted an intense academic experience, and at the same time be involved in a vibrant student community. Ed students work hard but play even harder.
There are countless societies and superb sport facilities – You can choose from the wine society to Harry Potter Quidditch teams and more academic ones such as the Law Society. I joined the European Union Society, Art history society and attend the university's oldest society meetings, which does debating in black tie.
If you are interested in EU politics, Scotland is the place since there are always debates and conferences about the topic with prominent speakers that keep us informed with the current developments.
Be the reason you may have to come to Edinburgh, don’t be discouraged by the competition when applying! If your motivation is strong and goes beyond the cliché “Edinburgh is the best uni on the list” you will be here next year. Despite having only 1 spot officially, three of us Groningers got here. And yes, its’ okay if you have a secret love for Harry Potter and deep-fried Mars bars.
Rugby is a big thing here
Keep calm and drink, almost every pub has student discount.
So now you got selected for Edinburgh: let’s choose courses
There are awesome courses in the faculty, most taught by the leaders in the field, and the style of teaching varies from lecture + tutorials to small seminar groups in honours level. To give you an idea, in honours it’s the students who build the class content and you go one step further by thinking of policy solutions and further developments in the law, which in Groningen you would start to do in your masters.
And if you are wondering about the grades, if you get 60% or higher you can be proud as not many students get it.
Now, I warn you: DO NOT TAKE THREE HONOURS COURSES DESPITE HOW AWSOME THEY LOOK ON THE WEBSITE.
If you want to enjoy a bit your exchange, just don’t do it, or you will be studying three times EU Law density -like and worse. I am taking: Advertising and Commercial Speech Law (Hons), WTO Law (Hons) and Business Law (ord)
The positive side is that you get amazing exam buildings like this one:
Be prepared to pay a lot for accommodation
Finding a place here is hard, and expensive, around 500 euros/month. Some students get lucky and find a place through the accommodation office, but that requires you to stay in a hostel some time at the beginning of the year. I found a nice semi-independent studio in a family house through Airbnb around April. Also, commuting to school every day by bus is pretty common here, but the buses have free Wi-Fi. Forget the bike unless you are a fan of cycling up and downhill all the time.
I miss my bike.
Make the most out of it!
Despite the courses being über hard sometimes, there are plenty of opportunities to travel around in Scotland and try as many pubs as possible. If you join a society in the beginning of the term you will make friends quickly, same as with Nexus, and last, don’t stay in your comfort zone and meet local students and people from Edinburgh. At times it feels like this uni is only populated with internationals but if you befriend a Scot they will show you their unique (drinking) culture, political views and history… Did you know that Scotland’s official animal is the unicorn? How cool is that?
The Harry Potter bridge!
Come here because of the reputation of the university only;
Overestimate the cost of living, the EU grant at 270 euros/month does not cover much;
Pick 3 honours courses and suffer.
I hope you have an amazing Erasmus full of new experiences and personal development, don’t forget that Groningen is also a great place to study and live, and if you don’t agree at the moment, buried in PIL and politics, trust me when I say that you will miss the bitterballen when you are gone next year.
And feel free to contact me for more insight about Edinburgh Uni!