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Hi, 

I would welcome any tips or personal experiences of students who either studied/lived in London or in Edinburgh (UK). If any one has any personal information about the tiny town of St Andrews in Scotland, it'd be greatly appreciated as well.

What are possible upsides vs downsides? Besides it being more expensive to live in London. I'm looking into doing both my MA and PhD somewhere in the UK so I really want to make sure that I'm choosing correctly. The MA is 1 year and PhD 3 years. Might it be cheaper to study in Scotland for the MA and then move to London for the PhD before, hopefully, starting working in London?

  • Does anyone has any experience with living at Goodenough College in London? I would like to apply for the MA

Thanks for the help!

Edited by VAMuseum25
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I don't know much about your specific universities, but I did live in London for about a year in 2011. It's a beautiful city, filled with tons of culture, art, museums, food, etc. London is very expensive, but how that might compare with the rest of the UK, I don't know. When I lived there, the pound was worth approximately $2; I assume that has changed with Brexit and our own political changes. 

London has great public transportation, they also have an Oyster card you can purchase to use if you are a frequent traveler. It can get cold there, and the humidity can make the cold seep through your bones (I'm from the southeast US, so I know a thing or two about humidity). But I imagine St. Andrews would be even colder than London. It does rain a lot, especially in April. The weather might not be a downside for you, but it is something to prepare for. The culture in London is very different from that of the States. It took me about a month or so before I didn't feel like I stuck out like a sore thumb. The people are always dressed nicely, they speak quietly, they love their football, and when the weather is nice everyone will be outside in one of London's many parks. 

I would compare tuition costs between the universities and see which one is less expensive. US students are often charged upwards of $35,000 for tuition, and scholarships are competitive. The UK also requires you to prove you will be able to afford your education; this is usually done with a tuition deposit. Last application cycle I was accepted into a prestigious school in London, but I was unable to attend because I didn't have the spare $3,000 for the deposit. The UK will ask on your visa application how you intend to fund your studies (privately funded, government loans, etc). If you're going by cost of living alone, I imagine Scotland would be cheaper to live in than London. Definitely look at flat-sharing in the area around the university you're looking to attend. Know that if you go with private housing, many places in London charge rent by the week instead of the month.

If you can comfortably afford living in the UK, I would recommend it. I loved living in London, and if I hadn't run into extenuating circumstances, I would have gone again. You can PM me if you want! Hope this helps and best of luck! 

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Hey there! I did my undergrad at University of St Andrews. It is a small town but I would say it doesn't feel sleepy/dormant compared to other British towns of the same time, plus it is pretty well connected to Dundee (medium sized city, good for cheap shopping) and Edinburgh (I often took a weekend down in Edinburgh if I needed to escape 'the bubble'). I think due to the size of St Andrews, students try to compensate through numerous student societies, events, gigs, arts festivals etc. The students I know (grad and undergrad) who adore St Andrews are the ones who join a society, go to debates, become part of a subject-specific reading group etc. Those who have viewed the experience more negatively, from my observations, don't really engage in extra-curriculars or town and gown events. St Andrews is also surrounded by beautiful countryside, has three beaches (THREE!), and is only a short drive to the Highlands and Cairngorms.

As for price, rent can be (on average, I would say) £450 not including utilities. If you choose St Andrews don't feel hesitant about searching for accommodation outside of the centre of town (North Street, South Street, Market Street). I had a reasonably cheap rent on the very outskirts of town (house surrounded by fields) but this was only a 20-25 minute walk to the centre, and only 10 minutes on the night-bus. It is a very international university and it is common for international students to use weekends and reading weeks to hop over to Edinburgh airport and grab a cheap flight to European cities (Ryanair is the go-to budget airline, use it for Paris/Dublin/Berlin/Prague if you have the chance). There is also access to the East Coast mainline which connects you via rail to Edi, Newcastle, York, Durham, London, Aberdeen etc.

As for academics (bare in mind I was a Geography student so I can't fully comment, though 2 of my roommates were Art Historians) St Andrews is very well regarded in terms of Art History. If you had the option of undertaking a one year MA in St Andrews and then moving to London for PhD then you would be in a great position in terms of your PhD application.

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@whats-up-geog This is wonderful! It's been so much easier to learn about the academic/student life in London, but given the fact that I'm Canadian I hardly know anything about St Andrews beyond their prospectus. I can't thank you enough for all these little insider tips! I'm still waiting to hear back from one uni in London, but if it fails, then St Andrews is most likely going to be it for me. Their reputation, alone, speaks for itself and I think it would be one of the best academic foundations that I could have before then pursuing a PhD in London.

Budget wise, St Andrews would most likely be cheaper as well, in terms of accommodation, transport (walk!), etc. Have your heard anything about housing? The uni offers little apartments to share with 3-4 other grad students, have you heard anything good about those, since I'm considering applying? I would most likely only do my MPhill there, so I would want to save as much as possible before my PhD. This may sound very silly, but one thing that worries me is actually the quality of the library/documentation, did you have to take lots of trips to Edinburgh to find books to write papers or was it fairly easy to find everything that you needed at St Andrews?

Thanks for commenting about the importance of joining clubs & participating in the student life. It's definitely something to consider, because where I live (or London) there's lots to do, museums to visit & stuff like that, and I'm glad to know that the town has a life of its own and that it's fairly easy to unwind. Don't mention visiting the Highlands, it's already on my list! 

Big decisions! I really appreciate your help, you've breathed life a little bit more into both the uni & the town. If I have any further questions, can I send you a message? Thanks!

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Awesome, glad you're gonna keep it in mind! I don't know an awful lot about the price of graduate accommodation but I have a friend staying in one of the halls right now (in the art history department actually!) so I'll ask her how she finds it. Do not worry about the library at all! It is very well equipped (with lovely views of the North Sea, perfect on a stormy day with a coffee) and there are also a number of special collection resources (http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/library/specialcollections/) dotted about the universities. I've used interlibrary loans at the university a couple of times to avoid travelling for a book or article, and they take under a week to come through and you can keep them for about a month or extend the loan. Dundee is also opening a Victoria and Albert Museum (https://www.vandadundee.org/) and I've heard of Art History students visiting it early, should have some good resources. Needless to say Edin has some very established galleries too. 

(Its cool that you're coming over from Canada, I'll be moving to Vancouver (UBC) this autumn. I did a year abroad at Western a couple of years back too. Whereabouts are you from?)

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23 hours ago, VAMuseum25 said:

@namarie Thank you so much for all your info:) Although I've visited London a couple years ago, actually moving there for my graduate studies is something else entirely. Thanks for all the tips, you've definitely given me lots to consider!

You're welcome! Best of luck to you! 

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