Higher education (and international education) is an exciting opportunity to study and experience cultural exchanges, see and explore a new country, enjoy the different seasons, cuisines, hear and speak new languages and open your mind to the limitless possibilities of a ‘New You’.

Two years ago, when I was aspiring to return to studying, I considered several countries based on the factors important to me, i.e. a country which offers world class education, encourages cultural diversity and is safe to live in and explore. My search ended at the University of Stirling in Scotland, as it offered all the above and more.

Having been an international student at the University of Stirling and living in Scotland as a student for over a year now, I am sharing this blog and hope my experience helps you choose Scotland as a place to study, so you can tap into your own potential, just as I have.

Personally, for me, choosing the University of Stirling, was the best decision I made, and here’s why.

The country

Scotland is renowned for its world class higher education with several universities offering thousands of degree programs in many fields of study. Each year, over 50,000 students from 180 countries come to study in Scotland making the country culturally vibrant, diverse and exciting. Benefits of living as a student in this country are the endless social events and shows hosted around the year, a thriving nightlife, multiple cuisine choices for every palate from around the world as well as sports and outdoor exploration opportunities.

Priya Rawal outdoor on bike

Additionally, a reliable transportation system (buses, trains, taxis, rent a car and bikes) with excellent connections locally as well as neighboring regions gives students the opportunity to explore the country in a pocket friendly way. As a student, I felt safe using the transportation system at all times and got a student discount on all my travels every day to the University, which helped me save a lot (e.g: A full fare return ticket cost on the bus is £4.50 but using student card I paid £2.70). I used the savings to explore the country’s scenic highland isles as well as London, Wales and the Lake District, using the student discount card benefits which offer students a 30% discount on off-peak hours.

Scotland advocates eco travel to support its biodiversity and promotes cycle to work and school by offering free cycling classes in almost all towns and cities. I took advantage of the free cycling courses and started cycling to and from the University; I even taught one of my classmates to cycle, making it a double whammy experience for me.

The University of Stirling

Being a pro-student University, University of Stirling has a partnership with Next Bike, offering a discounted bike rental service all year round, thus supporting people who can’t afford to buy a bike but still want to be more mobile and learn a new life skill. Learning to cycle came in handy during the recent pandemic, as there was limited public transport service during the lockdown and so I used the bike rental service all through the pandemic to travel safely, one of the many benefits of studying in the University of Stirling.

Throughout my degree, I lived in the University’s campus accommodation and felt safe throughout, especially during the pandemic, as even though they were working remotely, the staff were supportive, attentive, setup extra safety measures to keep the students safe as well as support groups for students, especially those in isolation who couldn’t go out to arrange food supplies.

Priya Rawal lying on grass

All classes were delivered via an online platform and the transition from campus-based teaching to online was smooth as all rooms in University accommodation are equipped with free WIFI connection which is managed efficiently by the university staff and ensured there was no disruption in classes even during the pandemic. The ‘Be Connected’ campaign was created by the University, to support students during lockdown and gave an opportunity to connect with other fellow students virtually through video chat to play games, participate in tournaments, quizzes, participate in free courses as well as in social activities online. Lastly, for those like me who suffered with their mental health, a result of extreme isolation, the student support services came to my rescue and offered me free counselling and helped me get through my personal lows during the pandemic. Thanks to their timely support I am writing this blog and sharing my positive experience and it all happened here in Scotland, at the University of Stirling.

In conclusion, I got more than I wanted by choosing Scotland to fulfill my aspirations of further studies. The University of Stirling understood my individual growth needs and helped me achieve them successfully and I got the chance to see and explore a new country, enjoy the different seasons, cuisines, hear new dialects and pick up new words from the locals; it transformed me to become a ‘New Me’.

I wish you all well in your higher education goals. Do come to Scotland and I highly recommend The University of Stirling if you want to become a ‘New You’.

Thank you

Priya Rawal