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University of Edinburgh
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University of Edinburgh

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Superb support while in Scotland

The semester I spent in Edinburgh, Scotland going through the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) Butler University program was the best time of my life. I was nervous about going to a foreign country where I knew no one, but all of my nerves were put to ease by the helpful IFSA staff. Before I left the country IFSA representatives helped me get my visa, told me what to pack, and generally prepared me before I departed for Scotland.

Once I got there I immediately felt at home. The other students and I attended orientation for our first few days, which helped us assimilate into the culture and understand how to navigate Edinburgh (both literally and figuratively). Going through a program instead of directly enrolling into the University of Edinburgh was a great decision for me. Through IFSA I gained friends for life, that I otherwise may not have met during my semester. We all felt like we were in a community of like-minded individuals, who were there to support each other throughout the time we spent abroad.

Every few weeks the IFSA staff held optional Community and Culture events, where students could learn about food, politics, history, sports, social media trends, and everything in between. These events were a great way to spend time with other students in the program and learn more about the country in which I was living. We even got to speak to a Member of Scottish Parliament, which I otherwise would not have been able to do. I enjoyed getting to know Scotland on a deeper level.

The excursion to the Scottish highlands was an incredible opportunity that IFSA offered to its students. We were able to travel to several important Scottish places including the Culloden battlefields and Loch Ness. It was nice to have a trip that was already organized, so that we could enjoy the moment without worrying about catching a flight, getting lost, etc.

Throughout the semester staff was available to meet with us on a regular basis to talk about anything from homesickness to questions about Scotland to telling us about the best restaurants. I felt supported throughout the entire process, from before I left Scotland to when I returned home. If I had to do it all over again, I would not choose any other provider; no one can compare to the amazing staff of IFSA and the support and care they provide.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Edinburgh: The IFSA experience!

My fall semester abroad in Edinburgh was fantastic, thanks to IFSA-Butler. Before I was even in Scotland, IFSA was incredibly helpful with choosing classes, arranging housing, and preparing us in every possible way for our departure from home. They took so much stress off of what would otherwise have been an intense summer of preparation.

I can't describe how many amazing experiences I had in Scotland, but I learned so much both inside and outside of school. The University of Edinburgh is a top-quality institution; I liked all of my professors and benefited from my classes. In my free time, I explored the historic city (including all the free museums!) and joined different student groups like the Bhangra club. I had lots of unexpected, diverse experiences with student societies, and I believe that the best way to find one's place when abroad is by joining one.

IFSA-Butler enhanced my time in Scotland by planning a trip and a homestay, arranging IFSA get-togethers, and providing constant support. My homestay at a farm was my favorite weekend in Scotland, and the other IFSA weekend trip took us to beautiful places like Loch Ness and a castle. These are experiences I would not have been able to plan alone, and they showed me so much more of Scotland than I would have seen without this program. We also had a Thanksgiving get-together, which helped keep the homesickness at bay. Finally, the IFSA staff stationed in Edinburgh cared so much about all the students and made us feel comfortable in the new city. They gave us an orientation at the beginning of the program and continued to check in with us frequently throughout the semester. Tips from them about everything from exams to grocery shopping helped me adjust to my new life.
I highly recommend this program; Edinburgh is a uniquely beautiful and historic city and IFSA-Butler will help you make the most out of your time in Scotland.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

From Misery to Magnificence

Right up until the moment I got on the plane I was miserable, in tears, freaking out, and basically the picture of unhappiness. I almost didn't come abroad because I was so scared to leave the comfort of home. Hindsight is 20/20 though and I'm certainly very glad that I decided to come to the University of Edinburgh for the semester. I didn't know if I would make friends, assimilate into a different culture or succeed academically. But upon arriving and meeting the wonderful IFSA-Scotland team my fears melted away with each passing second. Their orientation which takes place a couple days before the university's orientation was really helpful in establishing an early security blanket. I was able to meet some of my best friends during orientation.

With the help of the IFSA-Scotland team I was able to figure out what environments were most conducive to studying in addition to how to balance my personal life and academics. But the best part about the program is that they definitely aren't the type of people to drop you off and leave you alone. They are very accessible (with fantastic response times as well!) and have intrinsic knowledge about pretty much anything that would be helpful to living and studying abroad. I don't know where I'd be without their fabulous handbook. I had to deal with a few strange incidents during my time abroad including needing a root canal right before finals but I was able to deal with it since they maintain very open lines of communication. I was able to get it taken care of with a bit of help and that was that.

When I think about my time abroad it is impossible not to immediately think about the quality of the program I chose. From an early orientation to their weekend excursion to Inverness where I got to play with super adorable puppies to their Thanksgiving ceilidh, these past 4 months have provided me a lifetime's worth of memories. If I've learned anything from my time in Scotland it's that life is made up of a multitude of moments and it's about cherishing the good ones that makes life so sweet. If I had to go through all the anxiety and uncertainty of coming abroad again I wouldn't have had gone about it any other way.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    7

Not sure why I came but I stayed for the Haggis

Team #IFSA has been an extremely consistent, professional, and unbelievably helpful program provider during my time abroad. From applying past the program deadline to the endless questions about which classes I could take to the most unexpected problems like getting tonsillitis while traveling, the IFSA team has never failed to give a thorough response (and with wonderful response times too!).

We started with orientation, which they set up for us in a hotel, a few days before the actual University of Edinburgh's orientation began. This gave us plenty of time to adjust to the city (and for those who just flew in, the jet lag, which I heard was much appreciated). The series of diverse yet succinct topics (i.e. security, sports, food, nightlife, slang, grocery shopping, academic advice, travel advice), we covered had me feeling more than prepared to be living in this country.

Throughout the semester, we had a few excursions and programs as well, which were every bit as worth it and lived up to the descriptions we had been hearing about. They did a community and culture informal session a few times and each of the ones I've been to have been super interesting, and it was very nice to see how much effort was put into the presentations despite the unsurprisingly low turnouts (due to class conflicts etc.).

My favorite aspect about IFSA is that the team here doesn't feel like "my study abroad program region coordinators" and instead feel more like a "group of cool people who happen to know the answer to every question I have and are actually pretty fun too."

In conclusion, I don't think my study abroad experience would have been what it is without IFSA. I probably would've been stressing out a lot more over minor logistical things that the IFSA team had already so thoughtfully prepared for and researched ahead of time. Go with Team IFSA, you can't go wrong.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

Lochs and Glens

For some people, especially what society would describe as minority groups, Scotland is really an unexpected destination. I did not expect to love it as much as I did and IFSA Butler was an integral part of my experience. They really help the assimilation process and organize wonderful trips/events.
I was lucky to live amongst a friendly group of students who welcomed me fully and without reserve. This meant that I was able to really feel like a student and not just an outsider in a temporary location. Plus it does not hurt that Edinburgh and Scotland in general is absolutely beautiful.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    7

  • Program Administration

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    7

IFSA-Butler: The most wonderful Scottish hosts

I had a wonderful time in the Spring of 2016 studying abroad with IFSA-Butler at the University of Edinburgh. I made great friends (shout out to El Jefe and the Funky Bunch), had the opportunity to experience a different kind of academic system and environment, and learned so much about Scotland and the UK.

Lets start with the IFSA team. The IFSA Scotland staff (at the time, Deirdra, Andrew, and Jenny), were absolutely wonderful. They were so friendly, and I felt comfortable coming to them when I had any problems or questions. I actually arrived in Edinburgh a day early, and accidentally ran into Andrew at the airport. He helped me get to the hostel, and his and Jenny's friendliness made my first few hours in the country a lot less scary. The first 3 days of orientation were also super helpful, and gave me a safety net as a navigated getting a SIM card, finding my apartment, and those sorts of things. I also felt like they provided us with the right amount of IFSA activities balanced with the right amount of space-- we were always getting emails about drop-in hours where we could go see Deirdra, so I felt like they were constantly present if I needed them. But at the same time, we weren't constantly inundated with IFSA-related things. They gave us the opportunity to go on two trips, two meals, and a few other activities (a food tour and a sports tour), which was a good amount of things to get us together with other IFSA students, but also enough to give us the freedom to explore on our own.

On the other hand, though, I have my misgivings about the main US IFSA-Butler office. The website is good about telling you what forms you need to hand in, but it doesn't give much guidance on how filling those forms out is different for each location. And I had someone at the office who was supposed to be my contact to help me do all the prep work for applying and post-acceptance forms, but she wasn't very helpful, and sometimes didn't reply to emails for a week, (which, given the deadlines I had to hand things in to her, wasn't great.) For example, I had to fill out a course preference form. But no where on the UoE website does it explain to us Visiting Students that we only take 3 classes per semester. So I had picked a normal courseload of five classes, and was only told after the fact that I needed to narrow them down. This could have also been a problem if I had planned to take back 4 classes for my major, instead of 3. If IFSA had more support in that area, figuring out classes and housing would have been much smoother.

That being said, my experience overall with IFSA was great. I am still friends with Deirdra on Facebook, and I am so jealous of all the suggestions she posts for her students to go do in Edinburgh! For those thinking of going abroad with IFSA, I have one main suggestion: make sure you leave the IFSA bubble. During orientation, it's very easy to make fast friends, and then stick with that group. But then, you've only made friends with other Americans studying abroad, and not other students in your host country. So make sure you go out and join clubs, meet people in pubs, and just be open to new experiences!

Specifically at UoE, I joined the Creative Writing Society and went on an awesome trekking trip with the Exmoor Pony club. I leave you with a picture from that trek, and the majesty of the Pentlands, a national park just outside Edinburgh.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Academics

    7

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    8

UofE through Ifsa

First of all I love Edinburgh. It doesn't get better than this city. But beyond that, IFSA did a great job taking care of us and making sure we had what we needed to have a good semester in Scotland. Orientation is completely worth it. You get to spend some time wandering around and making friends on the same program - I hung out with my IFSA regularly while in Edinburgh. Andrew, Deidra, Ruth, and Jenny are absolutely awesome. I highly recommend IFSA. Some of my friends who enrolled directly through the university relied us to pass along the information that IFSA provided us with (travel documents needed, grade conversions, questions about the city, etc...).