When I told my friends that I was thinking of studying in Scotland, I was greeted with a chorus of comments about “haggis” “Loch Ness monster”, “kilts” and Braveheart. But Scotland is so much more than these clichés. I had visited Scotland the previous summer and was blown away by the sheer beauty of the countryside, the hills, valleys, mountains and lochs, the wild Highland cattle with their bemused expressions, glimpses of stags and the majesty of its ancient cities. In short, I fell in love with the country and found the people welcoming, helpful and, yes, a little difficult to understand at first!
When I got home, I started doing my research into the best place to study creative arts — obviously the world-famous Glasgow School of Art built by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which had produced so many Turner Prize winners and virtually single-handedly provided Scotland with its Venice Biennale art pieces. I really want to win a Turner Prize one day, and to be surrounded by some of Europe’s most creative and influential artists, so Glasgow it was for me. I started considering what to put in my portfolio and what to leave out, trying to see my work through an assessor’s eyes, and practising presenting it, should I be lucky enough to be invited to an interview. Just when I thought it was all plain sailing, my best friend, Martha, told me she also wanted to study in Scotland and to live in the same city as me. No problem. Luckily, Martha’s grades were outstanding and she was bound to sail through the Matura, so she had a good chance of getting accepted to study veterinary medicine at Glasgow University, just down the road from me. Glasgow University is a member of the Russell Group, and ranked in the top 1% of the world’s universities and has an amazing reputation for ground-breaking research and producing Nobel Prize Winners, so the competition for places was bound to be stiff.
We decided to give it our all and apply through UCAS to our first choices, along with four other Scottish Universities. We rang Elab at this point and set off to meet our Elab consultants, in order to start the long process of getting references, writing a brilliant Personal Statement and finding out what extracurricular activities might help our applications stand out from the crowd. Martha decided to volunteer at an animal shelter at weekends and I resolved to volunteer for art therapy work with adults on the autistic spectrum. We also picked up reading lists and information on applying for tuition grants through the SAAS – which pays EU students’ tuition fees directly to the university, and has promised to do so for any EU nationals starting their courses in 2020 -which was a relief.
Studying in Scotland is cheaper than studying in England, particularly when it comes to accommodation, and Scottish universities have the highest rates of graduate employment in the whole UK. The plan seemed doable, and now all that remained was to get those grades, put in the applications – and wait! I’m writing this blog on a tablet in Dorres, near Inverness, watching Loch Ness to see if the monster is going to show its face today. Scotland is amazing and both of us got accepted onto the courses we were dreaming of studying. Come and join us and discover the great education and fascinating lifestyle you can enjoy if you choose to study in Scotland !