This is second blog in our Scotland's Universities Welcome the World series. The blogs are all written by current students at Scottish higher education institutions, and will profile the different ways in which they are part of Scotland's international welcome. Find out more about Scotland's Universities Welcome the World here or from the video at the bottom of this page.
It can be hard to make big decisions. When making such decisions, you must have an idea of how much of an impact it will have on your life. When it comes to making a hard decision, my wife and I always use the concept ‘this is our life, no replays, no chances taken’. By this we mean that you need to be wise, and study the available options carefully.
Clearly, making a decision to study abroad is a serious one. So here, let me share with you how my choice to study at the University of Aberdeen was the right one. I'm not going to speak about education quality here, because it is easy to find out that Scotland has some of the oldest and highest ranking universities in the world. But, instead, I'm focusing here on local factors and how the overall atmosphere of the city and country was welcoming.
Going back to the title (which I borrowed from the opening line of Katy Perry’s ‘Thinking of You’), it isn’t fair to compare my homeland with Scotland, at least not in these disturbed times that the Middle East is going through. However, I can compare it with other countries in the UK.*
I will share with you three examples that demonstrate how Scotland and Scottish people are great and how I felt welcome here:
Firstly, accommodation. More precisely: finding accommodation. My approach was simply putting my family photos on Gumtree (a commonly used marketplace website and app), saying ‘We're moving to Scotland, and we need a two bedroom flat!’ I was amazed by the lovely welcoming messages we received. When we found one we liked, we got an agreement, and we were very happy with the warm welcome we received from the landlord, and how they prepared the flat so that when we arrived we didn’t need anything for days, you name it: tea, sugar, salt, sheets...etc. On top of all, they were always supportive and helpful in many areas! All of this is 100% unique and neither I nor of my friends came across this in the rest of the UK or anywhere else.
Secondly, ‘making friends with Brits is hard’ was a phrase I heard a lot but, to be honest, we never experienced anything like this since arriving two years ago for my master’s degree. In fact it was surprisingly easy to make British friends. My wife and son were in the park when they met a lovely Scottish mum and son and since then they’ve became close friends and visit each other frequently. We find it fairly easy to have Scottish friends.
Finally, weekends. Scotland is a beautiful country. Before moving to Scotland, I had lived in the UK for over three years, but during that time I never had any great desire to explore outside the city I was in, but here, the first thing we did was buy a car, and we’ve been traveling all over the countryside to enjoy the fabulous views that Scotland has to offer!
We chose to make Scotland our home, a place to study and live for at least the coming three years, and we are happy with our decision. What would you chose?
* Surprisingly to me, the UK is made up of four countries: Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland