Staff Member Spotlight: Emma Simpson

Scotland Student Services Officer


What is your favorite travel memory?

I was bitten by the travel bug badly so this is such a difficult question! I think I’d have to go with when I summited Mount Kilimanjaro for Worldwide Cancer Research during my second year of university.

Although I was exhausted and experiencing some nasty altitude sickness, it was so worth it knowing I had raised so much money for a cause that’s close to my heart – and seeing the curvature of the earth didn’t hurt either!

I would never have had the courage to make the climb on my own so I’m so glad I joined the society that was organizing it when I was at university. That would be one of my top tips for anyone studying abroad: joining clubs and societies can open doors you never thought existed!

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

All students study abroad for different reasons - from travel goals to having an ancestral link to the country - but other times, students hone in on very unique aspects of Scotland.

One student chose to study at the University of Glasgow because he had a burning passion for aeronautics and he wanted to talk to a particular faculty member in the physics department who worked on aerospace engineering.

The student ensured he got into the professor’s class, made a real effort to learn all he could from him and make valuable connections before he returned to the U.S. We heard back from him recently and he has a job in the space division at Lockheed Martin working on rockets!

If you could go on any program that your institution offers, which one would you choose and why?

I think of all our programs, I'd really love to take our Summer Scottish History program. The program delves deep into Scottish culture and identity, from its early clan roots to the modern day. It’s taught by a stellar faculty from the National Museums of Scotland and researchers from Scottish universities, meaning you get a far more in depth understanding of the history than you might elsewhere.

Unlike other history programs, field trips are built into the timetable so you get to explore areas of Scotland you may not have visited otherwise. Four weeks is also the perfect length of time to really get a taste of what studying abroad is like and whether you’d like to commit to a longer period of time.

Scotland is currently reflecting upon its identity as a nation, given recent political events, so this program is a great opportunity to learn about Scotland’s development as a nation and its current place in the United Kingdom.

What makes your institution unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Arcadia provides the perfect safety net to catch you. When I think back to my semester abroad at the University of Victoria in Canada, it was the unforeseen issues that caught me out.

I could have really benefitted from a team by my side, ready to advise me on anything from accessing healthcare to finding cheap groceries. I was out there on my own and while I grew all the more stronger for being independent and self-sufficient, it would have been comforting to know that if things did get difficult, I had someone close to turn to.

I love being a part of that support network for our Scotland programs and being able to pay forward what I learned when I was abroad.

What additional activities does Arcadia offer during a study abroad program?

I have so much fun ensuring all our students have an amazing time in Scotland! Even before our students arrive, we use Facebook groups so students can connect with each other – the excitement is infectious! Everyone is so eager to explore the culture; haggis, bagpipes, kilts, Nessie – the works!

All of our excursions are planned to enhance our students’ experience of Scotland’s culture and heritage. We want our trips to be more than just regular tourism and add a dimension that can’t be found anywhere else. One of our most popular trips is our Highlands and Isle of Skye weekend, led by a battlefield archaeologist. We visit ancient castles, iron-age forts and significant historical sites!

Then we have events that evolve with Scotland – like seeing a show that sold out at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – and each semester, we have a contemporary Scottish author give a talk at the centre and tie another trip in with a theme from their book.

This semester’s genre was science fiction so we are visiting the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh to do some traditional stargazing and then explore space using an Oculus Rift!