Having never traveled overseas, I suffered some culture shock upon landing in Scotland. First, no one mentioned that Scotland is actually on the same latitude as Alaska, and so the sun makes a VERY short appearance during the winter days. This in combination with cloudy skies, rain, and a relentless wind, made my first few weeks in Scotland a tad miserable. In addition, coming from a small rural liberal arts school, I had to quickly adapt to big university life in a relatively small, but still urban environment. For me, studying abroad wasn't about falling in love with the place, but about pushing myself to try new things. Don't get me wrong--Scotland is absolutely one of the most beautiful countries in the world. In fact, I can't wait to go back to the Scottish highlands in the future. But, studying in Scotland taught me that I don't want to live in a city, that I don't want to live where the sun only shines for 5 hours during the winter, etc. Regardless, I'd still do it again.
I met some amazing people during my time abroad. And yes, the miserable weather and lack of sunlight was a huge talking point. But, what I liked most was that Edinburgh attracted people from all over the globe. I met so many people from Australia, I could travel around that continent just sleeping on friends' couches.
The academics are comparable with U.S. universities, but the workload is distributed differently. With three classes and only two assignments per class, I had to manage my time very efficiently to ensure that I got the work done and done well.
I encourage anyone interested to go to Edinburgh in the fall semester. You get better weather and plus you'll be there for the Christmas/New Years festival, which is world famous. While the program is longer in the spring, just be aware that spring break leads into the exam period, which together lasts 5 weeks. So, that's five weeks of just living in Scotland (after you've already been there for 4 months) which can get pretty boring if you have exhausted your financial resources.