In the United States, we say that you’ve been denied a real college experience if you haven’t studied abroad. At the end of sophomore year, my campus was abuzz with students who were eagerly awaiting their upcoming semesters in a variety of exotic locations all over the world. I had friends who wanted to fall in love in the illuminated streets of Paris, to study biodiversity in the untamed wilderness of Brazil, to wake up to the sight of a Venetian canal, to wake up at 3pm on a beach in Barcelona with vomit in their hair.
Consequently, when I announced that I would be studying in a land renowned for kilts and haggis, and where Willie the Groundskeeper was the most recognisable cultural icon, I was met with a mixture of befuddlement and surprise. “Why Scotland?” people would ask, and even now, it’s difficult to express just what drew me to this little country in the corner of the world.
However, with a report announcing last week that Scotland is the best place in the world to study abroad, it is evident that you guys are doing something right. The report, commissioned by the British Council Scotland, found that Scottish universities outperformed their peers in both the UK and the rest of the world for satisfaction levels of international students. Considering the economic boost and cultural diversity that visiting students bring to study abroad destinations, this is fantastic news and a credit to the academic and social environment that is being fostered here.
The relaxed pace of life, stunning landscape, and pop-culture novelties of Scotland are responsible for attracting international students here in the first place. However, most students discover an entirely new way of life once they arrive. After traveling to dozens of countries, I can assert that Scottish people are amongst the most welcoming, friendly, and helpful in the world. The nightlife is indescribable, and blows the trashy guido-strewn clubs of Miami and Ibiza completely out of the water. The cultural offerings are various and constant, and there is never a dull moment in this vibrant city. It’s one feat to bring students from all over the world into your city, but another to make them want to stay.