Edinburgh Castle sits on top of a hill, its powerful presence felt across the city. Bagpipers play along the Royal Mile, where the scent of meat pies fills the air. As people race along the cobblestone streets to get to lunch or catch the bus, there is the bang of cannon fire — it’s the daily One O’Clock Gun, a tradition dating back to 1861.
This is a scene I’ll never forget. For one semester, I called Edinburgh home and explored all that the city could offer. I hiked Arthur’s Seat, which is an extinct volcano that erupted 350 million years ago. I visited Holyrood Palace, the official residence of the British Monarchy when the Royal Family stays in Scotland. I watched the sunset on Calton Hill, a centrally located hill that has some of the best views of the city. From unique flavored gelatos like fig and goat cheese to aromatic Indian food to delicious full Scottish breakfasts, with haggis, a Scottish delicacy consisting of sheep intestines and spices (yum!), I tried many diverse cuisines. I also visited the Isle of Sky and the Highlands over one weekend. Rolling hills blanketed in orange shrubs with numerous tiny springs of rivers sprouting out of the ground paired with the moody, misty atmosphere made the Highlands feel magical. My only regret is that I didn't get the opportunity to see the shaggy and iconic Highland cows.
At first, there were many challenges, but, with time, I persevered. Since I am a commuter student in Redlands, this was my first time being away from home. I felt nervous, anxious, and homesick during the first week. In the beginning, even mundane errands, such as using public transportation or paying for groceries with British pounds, were different and confusing to me. However, it did not take me long to get accustomed to my new environment, and began to thrive. I learned to be adaptable and flexible when navigating a new education system and all the learning curves that came with it. For example, your entire grade depends on one test at the end of the semester. But on the bright side, university grading system is much different from ours in that 40% is considered passing.
The University of Edinburgh has a large and diverse catalog of classes that enabled me to take classes not offered at the University of Redlands. As a double major in environmental science and mathematics, I was able to fulfill all my major requirements while also learning about exciting and interesting topics. One of my favorite classes, Meteorology, was taught by three different professors, each an expert in their respective area of research. My classes ranged from 40 students in a lab to over 500 students in a large lecture hall. Being used to smaller class sizes at Redlands, this type of learning environment was another experience I needed to adapt to.
Living with students from various cultures was one of the highlights of my experience. By striking up conversations with other international students, I gained new perspectives and learned many interesting social norms from around the world. My Irish flat mate even taught me some Gaelic and my Korean classmate introduced me to japchae, Korean glass noodle stir fry.
Studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh was an amazing and wonderful opportunity. I was able to not only better myself but also see a new way of life. I will never forget the memories and friendships I made along the way.
A few of my fellow Bulldogs also chose the British Isles for their study abroad experience…………
Upon seeing Trafalgar Square, an iconic landmark in central London, for the first time at dusk, while hearing a violin being played by a street performer, Mary Zimmerman felt like she was in a movie. Mary, a senior studying mathematics, studied abroad at Queen Mary University of London and was excited to explore a new country without the worry of a language barrier. Although she would not consider herself to be adventurous, she spent her free time visiting the stunning and immense collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, strolling down the atmospheric Regent’s Canal, and shopping at the Sunday markets in Victoria Park. These were just a few of Mary’s favorite spots in London. She also found that getting around London became second nature within a brief period of time by either using the Tube or one of the iconic red double-decker buses that are synonymous with London.
Due to Mary’s studying abroad experience, she feels that she gained self-confidence by navigating through new experiences, whether from school or daily activities. With a more independent learning education system at Queen Mary University, Mary has become more self-motivated in her studies, which is currently propelling her in her research for her senior capstone project.
Mary would absolutely love to study abroad again if given the opportunity. “Studying abroad basically allows you to live a totally new life for three months, away from the stresses of regular life, and just focus on yourself and your studies,” she said.
Drawn by the rich history, unique culture, and beautiful landscape of Ireland, Celine Rafie studied abroad at the University College Dublin. Being able to see the rugged Cliffs of Moher and the various castle ruins scattered around Aran Islands at the mouth of Galway Bay, zooming by sheep, cows, and horses on her bicycle, was a peaceful and beautiful experience she’ll never forget.
Celine, a junior majoring in environmental studies, was excited to study abroad in the capital of Ireland with some fellow University of Redlands students. Traveling to historical sites such as Dublin castle built in the 13th century, St Patrick’s Cathedral lined with vibrant, stained-glass windows and hundreds of religious relics, and Trinity College, home to a magnificent library filled with books dating back to the 9th century, were just a few of the monumental sites in Dublin she and fellow classmates visited.
In addition to exploring Ireland, Celine took this opportunity to see other countries. She visited Italy, Spain, and France, and said she “loved the excitement and thrill of constantly traveling and learning not only about Ireland but about the other countries I visited as well.” Riding a gondola down Venice’s canals, seeing the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night, and trying delicious Spanish tapas are just a few of the unique experiences Celine was able to do while abroad. One of her goals during her study abroad was to make many friendships. By stepping out of her comfort zone, she made many international friends while learning a great deal about unfamiliar cultures.
Celine believes that studying abroad is a unique opportunity that should not be passed up, especially since the University of Redlands has such a diverse and amazing study abroad program. The memories and friendships she made along the way have not only enhanced her college experience but also have opened the world as her classroom.
To learn more about study away at the U of R click this link.