Choosing which University to go for was hard for me for quite a while. I knew I wanted to apply for a ‘good University’ with course modules I liked the look of, but that’s about as far as what I was looking for went for a while.
I visited Edinburgh a couple of times before I even had to think about University, but it was never really on my radar until I went for the offer’s day. I know this isn’t necessarily helpful as if you are anywhere down south or abroad, it’s extremely expensive to get here – but I am an East Midlands girl with a railcard, so I managed to make the trek.
The open day I went for was for philosophy, actually, even though I initially applied for History (I got the place and about a week later emailed if I could swap, so that’s why I’m writing for PPLS and not the HCA blog).
Factors I considered…
I don’t hate my parents, no, but it’s nice to be four hours away. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, as they say, and I don’t take seeing them for granted.
Edinburgh is a beautiful city and everyone comments on this, so I’ll spare you those details. What people seem to not talk about so much is what it’s like to actually be there. They miss that there seems to be a museum on pretty much every other street, or that Cowgate exists and google maps is NOT helpful in finding the gig you’re looking for at the Mash House. No one mentions how crazy it is trying to walk past all the tourists on the Royal Mile or that you should really, definitely, stroke David Hume’s toe as you walk past. There is an entire shop dedicated to Marshmallows near Broughton, and Dean Village is absolutely divine – especially with a little sun. Edinburgh being beautiful is such an underwhelming way to describe the city a lot of the time. You get to really show off to your friends when they visit.
There are castles in every direction here. It’s crazy.
The University (surprise!)
Edinburgh has its rankings, reputation, etcetera. I was told it was poor for community feeling/support. I haven’t felt that.
You do have to remember that there are a lot of students here, but that doesn’t mean help isn’t here – you just have to ask for it. Staff really have made me feel welcome and my personal tutor (who also was the speaker at my first open day, here) has been incredibly helpful with everything I needed. Hats off to Alasdair Richmond. Societies here are also pretty great and Philosophy Society actually does amazing work to try and bring people together.
I would talk about buildings and how beautiful McEwan Hall is but, honestly, what mattered to me the most was how I felt here – and the people I go to uni have a great effect on this.
Philosophy has actually been roughly what I expected it to be, but a lot of people have understated how much work there will be (that’s if you intend to keep up with it, which I have been somewhat trying to do). The modules are engaging and there is something for everyone. Plus, the joy of doing a degree in Scotland is that you don’t even have to do just philosophy. You can sprinkle in some sociology or linguistics or chemistry or geography in with your course via electives. There’s a course on witches which I am desperate to do in my second year.
We’ve been reading anything from Plato to Descartes to scholars I have never heard of. I finally got to hear about female philosophers, which A Level philosophy never bothered to mention!
It’s not that other Universities didn’t offer a philosophy course or that the cities were particularly unattractive; the courses/modules also looked incredibly interesting. I definitely didn’t choose it for the rent prices. I’ve been to summer schools and open days and no where felt right in the same way that Edinburgh did.
There are so many amazing people and things to do here – my imposter syndrome hasn’t really gone away yet, but Edinburgh is a good choice. If you are coming to the Offer Holder day, I’ll see you there!