The Studying Part of Study Abroad

McLaine Beeman Edinburgh Internship Program, Scotland


January 23, 2018

Studying abroad has been every kind of adventure that you can imagine. One I haven’t yet expanded on, however, is the actual studying part!

As I am doing the internship program, I am only in two classes at the local university. The typical course load is three. The internship functions as a third class for me, and is accompanied by a research component to quantify the work done during the internship. My first class is a voice class where we work with a voice teacher and then perform our pieces for the class. My second class is Scottish Culture and Society, a fun elective that allows us to dive deeper into the world we are temporarily living in.

There are quite a few differences between Scottish university and my university back home. The biggest difference I have noticed is that in general, the culture in Scotland seems to be much more relaxed. Technical difficulties, scheduling questions, and assignment confusion sends my American-wired brain into a frenzy. Here, everything is much more laid-back. Experiences like not being enrolled for a course in the US would send most of us into a panic, but here its a typical Tuesday. It can be as refreshing as it is frustrating, but as long as you accept that it is not weird or strange but simply different, you’ll be okay.

A second major difference for me has been scheduling (or timetables) in Scotland. At home I am in class for at least 5 or more hours a day, and as a music major I’m enrolled over 12 classes at a time. Here I am in two and they both meet for only two hours a week. You also only have 3-4 assignments per semester in each course, as opposed to an American class that can have 3 assignments due every week.

Lastly, there have been some minor cultural differences that have been interesting to observe. For one, showing up early does not happen here. At home most of the class is seated at least three minutes before the course starts- but in one of my classes, I was still the only one in the room a minute before the class started, including the teacher. Students also can be on their phones blatantly in class, whereas in my university even a sneaky text sent under the table is usually caught by the professor. Lastly, I have never been in a lecture class before. This is partly because of the university I attend has small class sizes, of course. However, it was still quite a surprise to walk into a classroom with 300 plus seats in it!

Now that classes and my internship have begun, this is what a typical week looks like for me:

  • Monday: Voice class from 2pm-4pm. I joined the Women’s Football team, too, so soccer practice 8:30-9:30pm
  • Tuesday: Internship 9-5pm
  • Wednesday: Scottish Culture and Society 11am-1pm, and then usually soccer games in the afternoon. In the evening we occasionally meet for my internship course to discuss our progress with our projects.
  • Thursday: Internship 9-5pm
  • Friday: Nothing scheduled, though I use it as a flex day to catch up on internship hours, do community projects, or take advantage of the day off and have an extended travel weekend!