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Lexma90 Apr 4th, 2013 01:08 PM

Just have to share - DS will be going to University in Scotland
After leaning in this direction for months, DS yesterday "hit the button" and accepted admission at the University of Edinburgh; his course will be history. We're happy and excited for him, and not that we needed more excuses to visit Europe, but now we have another one. I'm sure all of our travels to Europe and in the U.S. as he was growing up contributed to his interest in a university abroad.

We visited Edinburgh last year on a trip planned before he developed an interest in the University, which of course was very helpful in the decision-making process. We got lots of helpful advice here in planning that trip, and as you can tell, the Scotland portion was very successful!

Any suggestions, advice on anything other than the obvious would be great (he'll start work on the visa this weekend; he's chosen self-catered housing; bank account and cell phone must be obtained after he gets there) would be great. He's been a member of the Scotland and Edinburgh sub-Reddits for a while now, and I know Edinburgh has something for admitted students, and all that has helped. There's also a great blog (The Uni Guide) run by a U.S. citizen who's now a sophomore at Edinburgh.

In terms of food, as he'll be cooking (he's an ok cook, but needs to develop a budget-conscious, time-saving repertoire), do regular grocery stores carry items like tortillas and pita bread (at student prices)? We cook Mexican / Southwestern quite a bit, and that's the one cuisineI think there's less of in Scotland - or maybe not! And is peanut butter as cheap there as in the U.S?

jamikins Apr 4th, 2013 01:16 PM

Firstly congrats!

I just wanted to say that peanut butter is more of the organic variety (at least in London)! N.A. peanut butter is usually quite hard to find and expensive - i get family to bring the big tubs :) Also Mexican food is, lets just say, not great's very difficult to find spicy salsa etc. it's a great opportunity to embrace curry and other UK treats!

jamikins Apr 4th, 2013 01:17 PM

Oh and yes, tortillas and pita bread is easy to find...although I find the pitas different here!

jamikins Apr 4th, 2013 01:17 PM

Are easy to find geez!

Lexma90 Apr 4th, 2013 02:42 PM

Good re tortillas and pita (even if it's different) - there's lots of things he can make with those. And good to know on the peanut butter. DS did say that he'd fill one suitcase with peanut butter and tabasco. Guess he might want to bring some spicy salsa too.

DH is Indian American, though we only cook "easy Indian" - the more traditional stuff we let MIL do. I've already confirmed there's an Indian grocer right by the school, so he'll be good to go there, for spices and stuff like that.

pavot Apr 4th, 2013 05:54 PM

My family is headed to Edinburgh for spring semester 2014, and I have it on good authority that the Edinburgh Costco sells the same jumbo jars of Jif pb that our local Costco sells.

He won't starve! (And I won't have to pack pb myself. For my son.)

Congratulations to your son -- great opportunity!

girlonthego Apr 4th, 2013 06:22 PM

My best friends' son is headed to Edinburgh for a year of study from the US! Sounds like fun and congrats to your son!

jamikins Apr 4th, 2013 10:50 PM

No reason to bring tobasco, we have that here in the grocery stores!

unclegus Apr 5th, 2013 02:13 AM

Edinburgh University is a wonderful place to study and the staff are superb (well I would know I am employed by them).
he should have no problem getting all the things he needs to cook.Edinburgh has an extensive range of supermarkets, discount stores and ethnic grocery stores, he won't starve.One thing I will say is the University in House caferterias/resturants are way way overpriced and I for one don't use them,but loads of resturants and carryout places that do student discounts.Look out for Snapfax for discounts on just about anything.

bilboburgler Apr 5th, 2013 03:22 AM

Well done, good university.

Pittas are easy to get but hey he could even make them himself (if a peasant can make them maybe an undergraduate can?)

Getting the bank account is still tricky/time consuming so he needs to push for that pretty quick, one he has a bank account everything gets easier

Ackislander Apr 5th, 2013 03:25 AM

Be careful. Our daughter studied there and came home with a fiancé. It wasn't in the brochure.

He may not need a UK bank account. My wife and daughter shared a Bank of America account that allowed her to use her ATM card at Barclays without charge. We deposited dollars at this end, she took out sterling at her end. If he visits the Continent, he can get euros at BNP Paribas cash machines with the same card.

The Uni is wonderful and not quite so different from an American university as an English university might be, but it demands quite a lot more self discipline than most American universities. The uni does a lot less hovering over students than North American universities, and the faculty aren't as concerned with different learning styles or building self esteem. In fact, you might very well say that they don't think about it at all. Students also specialize much earlier than in the US, and in many fields, they have to write papers that are the equivalent of Masters theses. The important exams are very long and require quite a lot of writing ability.

One thing Americans find difficult is the very short days in the winter -- dark until nearly nine, nearly dark by half past three. The food is not such an issue, and he will be introduced to all sorts of new and yummy things, especially in the junk food department.

Scotland is a much more democratic country than England, but he will run into issues of class and race that he may not have faced in the US, not so much at the Uni as in other places. They won't be insurmountable or even very difficult necessarily, but he should be prepared for them. There are "Protestant" and "Catholic" professional football and rugby teams, for example, and sometimes the support for one or the other is uglier than, say, Yankee and Red Sox fans in the US.

If he can handle these, he will have an intellectually satisfying experience in a city where he can also have quite a lot of fun. I envy him!

Gordon_R Apr 5th, 2013 03:42 AM

You mention that your son will be staying in self-catering accommodation - is this a university property or private sector? Just wondering, because it's usually a good idea for new overseas students to be in university accommodation (whether hall or residence or self-catering) so they can mix easily with other students. Being on your own in a bedsit some where in a strange country is normally not much fun and can distract from studying.

<i>Scotland is a much more democratic country than England, but he will run into issues of class and race that he may not have faced in the US, not so much at the Uni as in other places. Scotland is a much more democratic country than England, but he will run into issues of class and race that he may not have faced in the US, not so much at the Uni as in other places</i>
Actually Edinburgh University (like its traditional rival, St Andrews) is packed full of posh, privately educated English kids, so there's no escape from social class divisions (some subtle, others less so). This is going to be more tangible to university students than the traditionally working class sectarianism seen at football games.

Gordon_R Apr 5th, 2013 03:44 AM

Meant to add:-

Posh, privately educated English kids (Pippa Middleton to give you a well-known recent example, is an Edinburgh graduate).

Lexma90 Apr 5th, 2013 04:16 AM

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. Good to hear about tabasco, cheap markets and snapfax. I know there's lot of good, cheap food in Edinburgh, I just want to make sure that as we work on cooking and budgeting skills, I'm not suggesting things that wouldn't be a cheap and good option for him. But no, I don't think he'll be electing to spend his time making pitas by hand.

Self-catered means he'll be in university housing, but share a kitchen with a bunch of other students. Seemed a better choice to him than the less centrally-located catered housing with (what he heard was) bad food.

Him majoring in history, and me just loving it and minoring in it, he already knows quite a bit about Scottish history, Protestant vs. Catholic and the like - more than most U.S. students, at least. And that there will be posh students there, too, but like any school, he'll make friends with people that he enjoys spending time with.

I'll suggest that he look into the Bank of America account - from everything I've read so far, I didn't think that would be an option. Definitely would be easier in terms of getting the money to him. And you didn't pay the exchange rate / foreign transaction fee every time your DD withdrew funds? Anyway, another item for his to-do list.

pavot Apr 5th, 2013 05:09 AM

If he uses Barclays ATMs, with a US-based B of A account, there are no withdrawal fees. At the moment.

kybourbon Apr 5th, 2013 05:22 AM

My daughter studied in Spain a semester and we got a joint bank account at our credit union. That way I could make deposits and deal with any problems that might occur with the account. My credit union didn't charge fees so that wasn't a problem. That's been several years ago. They now charge 1% for foreign transactions (interbank rate you see on Oanda or XE + 1%). She also had a credit card from the CU to use.

Another CU account she had from her college CU was frozen not long after she arrived in Spain. They told her she would have to come to the credit union to straighten it out (not possible since she was in Spain). Turns out her bank statement had been returned as undeliverable (it went to her dorm and she was no longer living there). She failed to file a change of address with them so it was really her fault. I suppose with most getting online statements now, this might not be a problem anymore.

Ackislander Apr 5th, 2013 06:58 AM

Well, Gordon_R, I was trying to take the high road on the "Yaws" as they called rich English students in my daughter's day (because they pronounced 'yes' as "yaws").

I think he will be safer at Edinburgh than at St Andrews from what Monty Python called "Upper . . ." No! I won't go there! Not the high road!

Frances Apr 5th, 2013 07:33 AM

They are now called "Rahs"!

Gordon_R Apr 5th, 2013 10:01 AM

As I recall they were called Yah's. During the 1980's St Andrews even boasted a pub known colloquially as the Yah Bar.

alanRow Apr 5th, 2013 10:48 AM

If he intends working whilst in Edinburgh then he will need a British bank account but do give him access to a US account with low withdrawal costs so that you can feed him money gradually over the year and he doesn't wake up in a ditch in Penicuik with a tattoo, hangover and an empty bank account

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