Hi again! I know one of the things I was most concerned about when preparing to move to Edinburgh for vet school was that not only did I have to ensure everything was on track for vet school but I had to consider the travel, visa and other restrictions associated with the pandemic. Although things are constantly evolving, I thought it may be helpful to have all of the pandemic related considerations in one place. Please keep in mind this is the Canadian experience, although this may apply to those coming from the States as well.
Firstly, right now we have a blended learning model. This semester we have had an average of two days on campus with our Graduate Entry Programme (GEP) class. This includes a combination of labs, animal handling practicals and lectures delivered in person. The rest are delivered online through Blackboard Collaborate, which is an easy to use platform that allows for text chatting and microphone use for class participation. Sports teams and other societies are mostly meeting in person as well. The school has informed us they are trying to get everything in person as soon as possible, however, the when and how of this remains up in the air. I am actually a fan of the blended model! It is nice to be able to stay in bed and watch lectures with my coffee every once in a while.
When talking to my friends and family in Canada, it seems that Edinburgh has opened up more than the current state in Canada. All bars, restaurants and clubs are open now, however, we are required to wear a mask inside when travelling to and from a table in a restaurant or at the grocery store.
The first thing to consider is the transcripts for my prerequisite courses took longer to be delivered due to the lockdown in Canada, this meant longer wait times to get my unconditional acceptance and therefore longer before I could even apply for a visa or student accommodation.
The school, however, was incredibly accommodating and reassured me I would still be able to get everything done in time.
In regards to a visa, the UK visa office in Canada asks that no application be made more than three months before planning to travel to the UK. However, it is IMPERATIVE that you have this visa before coming to Scotland and that you apply for the student-specific one. If you have any questions regarding visas, the school has excellent resources for international students and can answer your questions.
When flying I was required to complete a passenger locator form. At the time this also required a negative paid travel PCR test and confirmation of where I would be self-isolating. In Scotland at the time this was a 10-day self-isolation, however, I spent time beforehand in London which only required 5 days of isolation.
Luckily, Canadians who are travelling that are double vaccinated, no longer have to isolate when coming to the UK.
Something else important to consider: if you have connecting flights you MUST check the quarantine/COVID regulations in the place you are travelling through.
I know things are constantly changing around the pandemic and hopefully, we will be back to normal soon, but until then, I hope this helps! I know preparing to move across the world is a lot of work but I can tell you without a doubt it is worth it. Best of luck to everyone with interviews coming up. You’ve got this!