“But… WHY?” two Dutch students who were in Dundee on an Erasmus exchange asked me last semester. We were talking about living in Scotland, and while they were enjoying themselves they thought 3 months was plenty of time on this side of the sea and wondered what possessed me to come to Scotland when I could have perfectly well studied in the Netherlands.
It made me consider why I love studying here so much. So if you’re a prospective student still not quite sure whether to take the plunge or you’re just curious what it’s like to pack up your stuff and start life in a new country knowing nobody, read on for a (by no means exhaustive) list of reasons I love living and studying here:
The beauty of the country. In the Netherlands we have many great things, such as cycling paths and Amsterdam (there is honestly more to it than the coffeeshops), and while it is lovely in it’s own grassy, muddy, flat way, for me it can’t compete with the wildness of Scotland’s mountains and seaside cliffs. I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of it with a few trips here and there last semester, but I plan on doing more exploring during the spring time, with a family visit (hopefully resulting in a road trip) and a surf club trip to Thurso coming up.
The university. Dutch universities have a very different approach to studying compared to here – it’s more independent, which can be a good thing, but it can also feel very impersonal. Here, the lecturers are really approachable and all university staff I’ve met so far actually cares, which is a good deal more motivating than a gruff: “Well if you don’t get the required credits… sucks for you and good luck in life”. Not to mention that the Scottish government funds EU students’ education, which is amazing.
The city. It seems as if most people here either love or hate Dundee. Friends who come from bigger cities say ‘It’s not a REAL city’, but while it may not be as aesthetically pleasing as Edinburgh or have Glasgow’s nightlife it actually has so many cool spots to discover. A shady dumpster-lined alley is home to a secret bar and where else can you party in a former library, or go to a bingo/drag show in a church? It’s compact and a little grungy, but I think that just adds to its charm. And I won’t shut up about this and send pictures home all the time because I know the weather back there is terrible: IT NEVER RAINS IN DUNDEE.
The people. You meet so many new people, not just from around here but from all over the planet, that it’s hard not to find your particular type of weird/wonderfulness.
And mostly, there’s a sense of adventure, getting on a plane and unpacking your suitcases in a new country, knowing nobody and figuring it out from there. Discovering typical habits for another country. Wandering around the supermarket and finding cereal they don’t have at home. Speaking a different language all the time. It can be scary, and sometimes it sucks when home is not a bus ride away, but overall for me it’s been more empowering than anything else, and I think it’s the best decision I could have made study-wise.