Scotland. I need to know about it.
Posted 18 June 2012 - 10:26 AM
As mentioned in another thread that's been floating around for a few months, I've been working on getting into some grad programs. To briefly summarize how I ended up choosing to go to the UK.. I was overseas for a year for my job and application deadlines for US programs are set up in such a way that there was no way for me to take the GRE or get an application in for the Fall of 2012, which is what I've been targeting. The UK has some really nice programs, takes only 1 year, the deadlines are mostly rolling, and they don't require the GRE... so that is where I concentrated my efforts.
Anyway, at this point I am only waiting on one more response and that school is in London. Its going to come down to that one vs. the University of Glasgow.
I think I have a pretty good handle on what living in London would be like but Glasgow is not as easy for me to get my head around... so that is the one I'm more interested in hearing about from UK boarders... or anyone that's been there, really. In some ways I feel like, strictly geographically speaking, I would rather live in Glasgow. I'm sure its less hectic than London and I feel like I might have better access to outdoor activities. Plus, the University itself looks really, really cool. We don't have anything like that architecture or age-wise in the States. To me it's like going to Hogwarts or something. And, yes, I would partially base a major life decision on which one looks more like Hogwarts.
But, I've heard some mixed reviews on the city itself. Completely randomly, at a blues bar in DC this weekend, I ended up talking with a couple Brits who were in DC for business or something. They said in no uncertain terms that Glasgow was a shit-hole and mentioned that I'd probably be stabbed. I took the stabbing part as a bit of hyperbole on their part. When I was travelling around last year I met a couple of guys from Glasgow and they were incredibly friendly. They didn't seem stabby at all! So really, how much of that reputation is bullshit? I'd be in a part of town where all the university students are and I just can't imagine that it's going to be the UK version of the Wire out there.
As a side note - the one in London is probably a bit of a better school and program. However Glasgow is not shitty in either regard so things like cost of living are definitely going to come into play. Its also important to keep in mind that my plan would be to return to America afterwards. Would an American employer really give a shit which one I went to? I think... probably not. But if I wanted to go farther academically (who knows?) it would make sense to go to the more highly ranked place.
Anyway, I really tried, but I couldn't think of a better place than this board to gather opinions on this one.
Posted 18 June 2012 - 10:34 AM
One of my best friends lives there and I've visited him multiple times with no incidents. I can get you his contact info if you want.
Re: grad schools. Honestly, I think you're going to be fine going to either. I'm not well-versed in your particular area, but University of Glasgow is well-regarded in many of the sciences (I can't quite remember how those break down -- I think Uni Glasgow is life sciences and Strathclyde is more into the physical sciences) and I can't see it being much of a hindrance.
Edited by Zbój Xray, 18 June 2012 - 10:39 AM.
Posted 18 June 2012 - 10:35 AM
The taxi drivers are almost entirely incomprehensible though.
Posted 18 June 2012 - 10:44 AM
Just to add - I'm a Londoner, and I'd choose London. It's cold in Scotland
Posted 18 June 2012 - 10:50 AM
Overall you would probably find the Scots friendlier, an Glasgow a little more welcoming than London. Also London is insanely expensive so by default you are probably going to end up in one of the rougher parts. The advantage of London would be goodish transport links to the rest of the UK, an I am pretty sure you could find a boarder or 2 near whereever you wanted to explore.
Posted 18 June 2012 - 10:55 AM
I am, however, from near Glasgow originally and still live in Scotland - and I work in the University sector. So for what it's worth:
As a Uni, Glasgow has a lot going for it. It's one of the 'ancient' group of universities (Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and St Andrews) who not only have those spiffy medieval buildings but also a deservedly strong academic reputation. But of that group, it's got probably the most diverse and friendly student body - Edinburgh and St Andrews in particular have a reputation for attracting rich kids. (I work at St Andrews - it's a deserved reputation.)
I have to say the nightlife is good, because a friend of mine runs the entertainments at Queen Margaret Union (one of the two student unions on campus). But even if I wasn't required to, I would. Glasgow as a city is about the right size, I think: big enough that you can usually find clubs and pubs to your taste, but more relaxed and smaller than London.
People do exaggerate how dangerous Glasgow is, but at the same time there is more aggro there than in, say, Edinburgh, in my experience. I'd feel safer in Glasgow than in London, though. And cost of living will be significantly lower. You will almost certainly get a nicer place to live, closer to the uni, for less money: and you'll find the pubs and restaurants cheaper too.
Reputation-wise, it depends which London institution we're talking about. But unless it's Imperial, or the LSE for some subjects, I can't think a US employer will be significantly more likely to prefer the London degree.
Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:01 AM
Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:16 AM
So its like Morgantown, then! But yea, I couldn't imagine that it would be any more dangerous than DC. At least I'd be very surprised if it was, and I've managed here OK thus far.
Is your friend American? That would be a helpful perspective.
Its UCL. As for the rest of your post, cost of living is kind of a big deal since I'm financing this whole little adventure all by myself. One of the things you touched on - the better quality of housing for a lower price in Glasgow vs. London.. is very alluring to me. I'm used to operating as an independent adult and I turn 28 this month. I'm too god damn old to want to slum it with the younger college students. I really, really, really do not want to put myself in a sub-par housing situation because it's the only thing I can afford. Seems like I'd definitely get more for my money in Glasgow.
Good to know! But yea, this is a big part of why I'm hesitant about London. One of the things that I don't really like about my current location of DC is that it's hard to get to outdoor stuff, which I love, and I think its too expensive to live here. I'm a bit skittish about moving to a place that fits both of those charges - and this time without even a solid income to back me up.
Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:19 AM
That being said, I love it there though I did spend the vast majority of my time in Edinburgh. As someone who lived in London and loved it, you really can't go wrong but I wouldn't underestimate how much it costs to live there. It's expensive.
Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:28 AM
What London has to offer in terms of museums, sites, theatres and whatnot you can enjoy as a tourist on weekend visits but as a post-grad student over here for a year your not going to be able to get to grips with London. Glasgow is a manageable size for a big city plus the Trossachs and Loch Lomond are in easy reach. As much as I like the Downs it's not exactly open country.
Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:33 AM
Haha, no worries there man, I know I would like living in London. And in many ways London is the obvious choice. Its an international city on the level of New York or Tokyo, its easy to get from there to mainland Europe, its the easiest place for me to get to from the United States, and like I said- the program at UCL is possibly a bit better. There will be at least one or two times that I have to return to America during the next year (best man in a wedding in Tennessee, for one.. maybe Christmas, etc). But I'm concerned that living there without financial support would be brutal. I'd probably take a job there in a second, but school is something else. I want to enjoy my time in the UK and that will likely be hindered a bit if I'm super worried about how much money I'm spending.
Edited by S John, 18 June 2012 - 11:34 AM.
Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:35 AM
No, Scottish. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if he knew some ex-pat Americans. Further, some of his friends from uni now live in the States, so you could probably get a decent rundown on the different cultures from them, too.
Honestly, if I were in your position, I'd pick Glasgow every day of the week.
Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:43 AM
Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:51 AM
Gamble for extra money. That's what I did. Poker ftw!
Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:53 AM
UCL's great and got heritage and tradition, there's the preserved body of that weirdo Jeremy Bentham in a glass case and various 19th century university buildings, but you would have to be facing a long commute from some where affordable into central london everyday to study there.
Posted 18 June 2012 - 11:57 AM
It's really not dangerous either. There might be statistically more knife crime than average but that doesn't mean random students are going to be stabbed in the street. I now live in Luxembourg, statistically one of the safest cities in Europe and it doesn't feel any different when you are out and about. If anything, people are friendlier in Glasgow, although it's true I guess that that friendliness can sometimes seem aggressive if you aren't used to it.
As for getting into the countryside, I would imagine it's far easier to do that in Glasgow. And there's certainly countryside worth seeing.