American student Briana Pegado explains why she chose to study in Scotland
US: Let’s start with the obvious; what made you decide to study in Scotland?
Briana: The wonderful thing about my university is that it has a wide range of facilities that are featured in every nook and cranny of the city. The university does have a campus but it is also built into the fabric of the local community. That translates to its physical learning space and the types of programs the universities offer. Students are extremely active and interact in meaningful ways with the local community.
My university features some of the best lecturers in the world. Professor Peter Higgs of the Higgs-Boson taught here. In the School of Social and Political Science specifically, students work with experts in their field including lecturers in the NGO sector, that are advisors to the UN, and leading academics. Dolly the sheep was cloned here in the early 90s.The academic environment and access to current projects and information is unrivalled here.
US: So are you happy with your decision to study here?
Briana: I honestly could not picture myself anywhere else. I remember once sitting at the student union building Teviot and one of my favourite songs came on. It was this slightly obscure indie rock band that was little known in the United States but (apparently) extremely well known here. The song came on at the perfect moment and I knew I had arrived. I knew I was supposed to be here. The experience has been more than I ever expected.
US: What makes Scotland an interesting place to study for students from America?
Briana: What few Americans know, I certainly did not realize this until I arrived, is the link between our history as a country and Scotland. The Scottish Enlightenment was central to the ideals our country was founded on. Many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence either attended the University of Edinburgh or lived in Scotland. Benjamin Franklin had a house in Edinburgh, which has been repurposed into a university building. Our histories are intertwined. It is a very unique and special connection.
Also, another reason I think I may have chosen to study in Scotland is Harry Potter. It is a silly thing to admit but this city is teeming with the magic of Harry Potter. I figure I never got my letter announcing my acceptance to Hogwarts and the University of Edinburgh is the closest I will ever get to Rowling's beautiful magic kingdom. I cannot truly capture in a few words how beautiful this city is. Cobblestoned streets, bridges that cross over busy footpaths, the deep grey of the buildings, the beautiful gothic architecture, and the speckles of the sea around every corner that peak through passages at the end of narrow streets.
US: How do you find Scotland as a place to live?
Briana: Scotland is beautiful. If you ever have a chance to visit you should. Edinburgh, itself, is surprisingly outdoorsy. There are crags, footpaths, hills, and creeks to explore. This city is large enough that if you want to escape for the day and keep to yourself you can but if you walk near the city centre it is quite difficult to walk for five minutes without running into someone you know. There is a huge park called the Meadows somewhat like central park in New York. When the weather is warm students and locals alike lay out on the grass to soak up the sun.
Edinburgh hosts one of the largest cultural (music, art, food, theatre, dance) festivals in the world every summer called the Fringe Festival- the diversity this city attracts is unparalleled. Also, the Scots are extremely genuine, friendly, welcoming, and hospitable. This is a very easy country to live. It is like breathing. You do not have to give it much thought.