Thinking about studying in Edinburgh? Have you applied and are awaiting an invitation to interview? Look no further! The following is my experience of the admissions process, arrival, and figuring out my accommodation during the COVID-19 pandemic, hopefully putting your mind at ease for the future!
My name is Ryan, and I am a Graduate Entry Program (GEP) student, in the first year of the four-year program at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. I am an international student from the United States, where I graduated from UC Davis last Spring with a Bachelor of Science in Animal Science. Because of COVID-19, the admissions process was a bit different for me than a normal year, having to go through an online Zoom MMI (multiple mini-interview) instead of the standard in-person one. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the process and was only dropped from the call once 🙂
After my interview in January, I finally heard in mid-March that I was accepted into the program! This was one of the most memorable days for me, finding out that I had gotten into my dream vet school straight out of finishing my undergraduate program. After committing, the next step was to plan my visa, arrival, and accommodation to start my vet school experience!
The biggest hurdle for me was sending my transcript over to Edinburgh from UC Davis. This was required because the University of Edinburgh requires final transcripts and proof of completion before you are able to apply for a visa. My issue arose because Davis is a quarter-system school, meaning we did not finish our school year until mid-June, and the transcripts did not get processed until a couple weeks after graduation. Applying for a visa takes time, which as it turns out I did not have much of. It takes about two weeks to process but you have to mail in your passport in order to get the visa sticker added, which is a little bit nerve-wrecking. Fortunately, my transcripts were finally processed and sent across the world electronically, just in time for me to apply for my visa and have a week to spare after receiving my passport back in the mail. If you are also a student at a quarter school, do not panic, I promise it is doable to get everything turned in on time!
When planning my arrival, I had to consider that the GEP year starts a bit earlier than everyone else, at the beginning of August instead of the end of September. Our first day of classes was the 10th of August with a tour on the 9th, so I planned to arrive in Edinburgh on the 5th to have plenty of time to get used to the area and get set up! Some of my peers arrived earlier to quarantine (if required by their home country) or to travel around with family, so there are many options for arriving.
Of course, we still are living in an era of the COVID-19 pandemic, so I also had to consider travel restrictions when coming here. Fortunately, restrictions from the United States were updated the week I arrived to allow me to not have to quarantine with a negative PCR test, so I was able to arrive and begin exploring immediately! All I had to do was take a test before leaving the US and take another on day 2 of arrival in the UK and as long as those were both negative, I was able to move freely about the city.
I currently live in student accommodation at East Newington, which I decided to do because it was the easiest while not living in the area previously. If you would like to bring your dog or cat over with you, you will have to look around for private housing that is accommodating to pets because university accommodation does not allow them. Some private accommodation requires you to have a UK address to apply for housing, but do not worry if you don’t, I know plenty of people who were able to find private housing without it. The pricing varies and I find student housing to be much better priced than in the States, but there are also private options that you can find at a comparable price. I highly recommending budgeting your money/loans before you arrive to make sure you are able to pay the accommodation price along with other living costs, as I had to do.
Thanks for reading, I hope this has helped clear any questions up about the process of starting your new life in Edinburgh!