Living and Studying in Edinburgh: An International Student’s Experience

Want to know what being an international student in Edinburgh is really like? Let’s hear from Shelby King, a postgraduate student from the United States, who has been living in Scotland’s capital city since September 2015.

‘My experience of studying at the University of Edinburgh, and living in the city has been an exciting, yet challenging one which has helped me become a more self-sufficient person’. 

I arrived in September, shortly before Welcome Week began, to look for a part-time job.  Although I was able to find a position, I quickly realized I did not have the time to spare once term started.  You will be amazed by how quickly the semesters pass by! Lecturers keep students busy reading articles, writing essays, and preparing small group projects, from the first week term begins – definitely no ‘syllabus week’!

The Pentland Hills

The Pentland Hills

For this reason, I would suggest, especially to postgraduates, to do as much as possible during Welcome Week!  There are so many great events hosted by the University and Edinburgh University Student Association societies, and they are a fantastic way to meet new people who have the same interests as you.  I used the University ‘Welcome Week’ app to search through the many events offered to students throughout the week and keep track of the events I wanted to attend. My favourite were two  amazing ‘taster events’; the first was hosted by the Mountaineering Society: they hired a bus to drive us into the Highlands and we hiked up Ben Arthur!  The second event was hosted through the Exmoor Pony Trekking Section, who lead several groups through the nearby, beautiful, Pentland Hills.

‘I made several adjustments inmy study patterns to accommodate the UK school system.’

The structure in which the classes were set up, as well as the marking system, differed from my undergraduate classes in the United States.  Most classes in my programme had two marked essays on which the grade was based. Lecturers will look over basic outlines for your essays, but due to UK marking guidelines, they cannot read sections and give students feedback on parts of their essays prior to turn in.  The feedback from my final essays really helped me improve my marks throughout the two semesters.  One excellent bit of advice a lecturer gave me for writing essays was to copy and paste your introduction, first sentence of each paragraph, and conclusion of your draft essay into a new word document, read through this new document, and if this does not make a clear and concise argument, then you should adjust your essay accordingly to make your argument clearer.

‘I have loved living in the city of Edinburgh.’

It is the first time I have ever lived in a larger city, so it took me a while to get accustomed to the hustle and bustle, but I have found many places to get away from city noises.  It may seem a bit morbid, but I find the cemeteries to be quiet, peaceful locations to take a quick break from studying.  However, if kirkyards creep you out, there are many other places to which offer peaceful environments to de-stress, including Princes Street Gardens, Arthur’s Seat and the Meadows.  Edinburgh also offers students a wide variety of venues to go to, all of which are within a walkable distance from the city centre.  Every time my friends and I go out for a drink we can find a new pub, and often times one that is playing live music!

Live music in Edinburgh

I will be very sad to leave Edinburgh this September and I think that I have been quite spoiled by the city, with all of its attractions and beauty, so be sure to take advantage of all of its wonders while you are living here!’



Categories: New Students

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