Why you should study at Edinburgh!
By Alex, BSc Geology and Physical Geography
Why did I choose to go to Edinburgh?
Whilst many may say they went to Edinburgh for the prestigious reputation or that it’s a world-famous university, that wasn’t really something of much importance for me, what I really cared about was the experience and the quality of teaching – luckily enough for me these were both things that Edinburgh has.
After studying abroad for a year, I never really had a chance to visit Edinburgh beforehand, so whilst all my friends had chosen based on their open days, I was put in the difficult situation of choosing where I was about to spend the next 4/5 years of my life without visiting. Thankfully, I chose well, so here are 5 reasons why I believe Edinburgh was the best choice for me.
- Elective classes
Whilst many programs in other universities seemed to be very limiting in terms of subject, Edinburgh allows first and second year students to choose classes outwith their course. In first year I was able to study astrobiology (AMAZING course, highly recommend) and oceanography, then in second year I took a yearlong course of Chinese and a natural hazards course in the first semester.
Doing elective classes really allowed me to expand my knowledge in other geoscience disciplines but it also helped me improve my Chinese language skills, which is something I also considered studying.
- The city!
Having grown up in a small town then spending the first year of my adult life in a city of 12 million people, I knew I couldn’t go back to the small town lifestyle. Whilst living at home and going to a university seemed much more appealing money-wise, I really didn’t want to spend the next four years living with my parents and not expanding my circle further than my friends I made in high school. However I also knew I wanted to stay in Scotland (the tuition fee life also wasn’t for me), a perfect compromise of living away from home but still close by seemed to be Edinburgh.
Living in a big city presents a vast array of opportunities you wouldn’t get staying somewhere like Stirling or Dundee, with Edinburgh being the capital of Scotland, there always seemed to be something going on and something to do, not to mention the general beauty of our city!
If you regularly read the blog you’ll know that myself and some friends recently created a palaeontology society (if you want to know more you can read here: https://blogs.ed.ac.uk/geosciences/2020/02/students-guide-to-starting-a-society/), this, I think, is one of my favourite thing about Edinburgh. Aside from EUSA’s ever-growing list of over 300 societies, there is also always the chance to create your own! In welcome week, there is a two day long activities fair where you are able to sign up to mailing lists of any societies you are interested in, as well as purchase membership of any societies you are certain you want to partake in.
In addition to the many societies there is also the sports clubs! With many traditional sports you may have played in school (netball, rugby etc) there is also some more ‘out there’ sports such as cheerleading, shinty and even martial arts! Many sports also have intramural teams for beginners or casual players, there is something for everyone.
- The course
The most essential thing for me when applying was that the course was right for me. Many people think if you study a geology degree, you just want to get rich from oil, but I can assure you that isn’t the case. In fact, this put me off a couple of universities whose courses seemed to be very petroleum based. Studying at Edinburgh really gives you a huge spread in geological sciences, so far, we’ve done palaeontology, geochemistry, biogeochemistry, geophysics, seismology, volcanology… the list is endless! It means you are never bored and always learning something new or interesting.
- Hands on lessons
One thing I knew for certain when choosing my course was that I for sure did not want to be stuck in a lecture hall 5 hours a day. Thankfully I was just in luck as my course had weekly labs as well as many field trips.
Labs are great and usually decently chill. You are allocated around 3 hours each time you have a lab but once you get the work done you are free to go. Labs often include use of microscopes where you get to look at pretty thin sections or they can be analysing hand specimens, and even sometimes doing cool experiments, for the more art-inclined students, we also spent time in first year drawing fossils.
Field trips are also great fun! Obviously you are there to work, but its also a great laugh and you really get to know all your coursemates. In future years you even get to go as far as Spain and Cyprus. Even our dissertation is more hands on and fun, a few weeks mapping anywhere you want in the world? Yes please!
In all, I really love Edinburgh, the city, the university and the people. After starting my time here year a year or two ago, I’ve met so many amazing people from all over the world, I’ve learnt more than I ever could have dreamed to and I’ve lead such an enriching life here. If you are still unsure then please take a look at some of our other blogs!
See you next time!