The process of setting into Scottish university life was fairly easy for me. I had just finished my undergraduate degree in June of 2014, so I was still in the mindset of a student. Strathclyde had a number of events planned for new students, as well as events geared toward international students, so I made sure to go to some of those events to meet people. Strathclyde also had a number of excellent facilities (fitness centre, library) that made settling into university life very simple.
Glasgow is a fabulous city. It has a more industrial vibe than most European cities, and yet it still has a number of beautiful historical sites. Coming from a large city (like Toronto), it was great to be able to walk just about anywhere. In cases where something was a little too far to walk, the single subway loop made it easy to get somewhere without getting lost… you eventually end up right back where you started! There are a number of bars and clubs in Glasgow, and many music and performing artists will make stops there on international tours, so you have the chance to attend those if you so choose. Glasgow also has its own international airport with a bus that goes direct from the city centre to the terminal, so travelling is quite simple.
Weather-wise, Glasgow fits the stereotype of the UK – rainy most days. It doesn’t get too cold (I think it hit negative temperatures less than 5 times all winter), but the rain can drench you pretty quickly if you’re not properly covered. However, when the sun does come out, it’s absolutely beautiful. Almost every restaurant will have some sort of outdoor seating so you can really appreciate the nice weather.
There are a number of shops and malls in the city centre as well, so if you’re looking for designer clothing (or a good bargain), you’ll be able to find it in Glasgow. You don’t have to go very far to find something you absolutely love in this city.
Strathclyde was pretty much a no-brainer for me. In pursuing a Master's in Science (in Forensic Science specifically), there were a few universities in the UK that offered a world-class program. After narrowing down to two choices (King’s College in London and Strathclyde University in Glasgow), I ultimately chose Strathclyde for a few reasons. First, Strathclyde appealed to me slightly more due to the difference in price – as King’s is right in London, everything would have been exponentially more expensive. Second, the style of the program. Strathclyde presented the program as a hands-on learning environment with a number of scenario-based assignments, which really peaked my interest. Being a hands-on learner, I much prefer performing my own experiments than reading about someone else’s. Finally, I spoke with a number of people in the Forensic community, who all assured me that a Strathclyde degree is highly recognized in scientific circles. Knowing that the content I would be studying appealed to me, as well as knowing that the degree would be recognized in a positive light, I chose Strathclyde.
Master's of Science, Forensic Science (Specialization: Chemistry). Graduated with Distinction
Some things were more expensive, some things were cheaper. It all depends on the strength of the Canadian dollar, but for the most part, I’d say the cost of living overall is about 15% more expensive than living in Canada (Toronto). My rent was approximately $900/month (this included all amenities and internet), which was more expensive than anything I ever had during my undergraduate degree in Canada. The cost of groceries was approximately equal to (or slightly less depending on what I would buy) what I would pay per month in Canada. One thing I noticed that was significantly more expensive was going out to restaurants – the price was almost double. A burger would be about $25 at a sit-down restaurant, which is almost double what you would pay for a burger at Jack Astor’s, for example.
I chose to live in private housing, however the housing I chose was only open to students (you had to be a student to rent, but it was not exclusive to one university or college). As such, it felt kind of like a university dorm, except I had way more space. I had a double bed and an ensuite washroom, and I shared a fully-equipped kitchen with 4 other people. My apartment was less than a 10 minute walk from the farthest point of the campus, so it was incredibly convenient. There was also a grocery store right across the street, so I never had to go far for anything I needed.
The main things I did with my spare time while living in Glasgow were exploring the city, attending fitness classes, and travel. Whenever I had a long break from my studies, I would go and explore somewhere new (both within the UK and beyond). I also did a lot of exploring around the city, attending farmer’s markets and events in the city centre. I also stayed active by going to the gym (a great stress reliever when you’re homesick, I should add).
In short, yes. Lots. I travelled all over. I travelled to a number of places in Scotland (Edinburgh, Loch Ness, and The Isle of Skye, to name a few). I also spent a long weekend down in London in September, and the weather was beautiful. I also travelled to many countries in Mainland Europe, including Italy, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, and Denmark. If you want to travel, you can definitely find the time.
I would have to say, get involved. There are so many clubs and committees, as well as an amazing athletic facility! Chances are, there is something that interests you offered by Strathclyde. You’ll get to meet like-minded people from all over the world. It can be a little daunting at first, being in a new country, but if you push yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit, I guarantee you’ll become a better person for it.
My experience with Across The Pond was nothing but positive. In fact, I would call my assigned advisor an invaluable asset in my pursuit of post-graduate education in the UK. He provided me with personalized feedback on my statement of intent and made sure I had all the necessary documentation to apply. Once I had accepted an offer, he kept me up to date with scholarship information and walked me through the visa application process. I really don’t think I could have done all of it on my own, and I’m so glad Across The Pond was there to help me through it!