Why did you choose this program?
My number one criterion was to study in a country with a different education system than that of the U.S. but didn’t require me to learn a new language. The United Kingdom fits these criteria perfectly. I decided on Glasgow because I wanted to experience Scottish culture and the University of Glasgow provided a good variety of economics courses.
I chose to study abroad with IFSA because they were the perfect program for someone who hasn’t done a lot of traveling and maybe is nervous about studying in a foreign country for an extended period of time. They gave us the perfect amount of hand-holding: enough so that I felt comfortable being abroad and knew that I had a team to rely on.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
IFSA probably did as much as they could as a program provider to make sure our experience was as seamless as possible. I had a knee injury before my semester abroad and IFSA helped me get in touch with my University’s disability services. IFSA provided pre-departure information and arrival pickups. Further, we had an orientation at Edinburgh. Throughout the semester, IFSA provided periodic check-ins with activities such as excursions, a homestay, and afternoon tea times. Overall, I’m really happy with IFSA’s service.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Take advantage of all the opportunities given to you, whether that is an excursion provided by your study abroad program, a cultural class or a fun club at your University. Abroad is not the time to be afraid of novelty! In fact, I encourage you to try things you think you may not like because you never know beforehand. Once you return home, you won’t have these opportunities handed to you anymore.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Depending on your home university requirements, most students in the IFSA Glasgow program take 15 credit hours. That leaves plenty of time for exploring the city, traveling, and doing chores such as cooking and cleaning. Because the University of Glasgow does not provide meal plans or cleaning services, I usually spend 6 out of 7 days cooking, once a week cleaning, and twice a week grocery shopping. I spend my weekends exploring the city, going out with friends, or traveling to other cities. I like to study and do homework right after my classes at the library to make sure my weekend is free.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I was most worried about being lonely while abroad. I had close friends I had to leave behind and the time difference made it difficult to connect with them. I thought it would be difficult to make friends in a foreign country, but I was very wrong. There were many students studying abroad that were in the same boat as me. IFSA also made sure that I had my IFSA cohort to rely on for support by holding meet-up events. I bonded with my roommates more than I thought I would. The students at UofG were incredibly welcoming to abroad students, and the University’s events and clubs helped us grow close. I keep in touch with them to this day.
What was one thing you learned from this experience?
It’s all about scheduling, planning, and prioritizing. I recommend you make a list of everything you want to accomplish while abroad – traveling to other parts of your country, trying cultural dishes, hanging out with friends – whatever that may be. Once you have your goals, think about how much time you need to achieve them and plan accordingly. For me, my schedule for the weekdays was mainly classes, homework, and some household chores. During the weekends I would explore the city, travel, and spend time with friends. You might have to compromise if you find that you don’t have enough time to accomplish everything. With planning and good time management, I was able to receive incredible grades and achieve the majority of my goals.