I’m Martin Buschmann, a physics master student from Graz, Austria, and I decided to spend an exchange semester at Strathclyde, Glasgow. There are several reasons, why I chose Strathclyde. Firstly, I wanted to improve my English, which works best in an English speaking country. Secondly, UK universities have a good reputation in research and teaching. The procedure for applying and getting a place in the Erasmus program was relatively simple at my home university.
So, finally I arrived in Glasgow on the weekend before the second semester started. I used the time to explore the city on my own and I was surprised how compact the city centre is, although Glasgow is one of the biggest cities in the UK.
On the first week of the semester, an introduction and orientation sessions for exchange students were held, which gave the most important informations for us international students. On the first day I also picked up my students card from McCance building and met my physics supervisor, Dr Francesco Papoff. I was surprised how fast and easy all those admission procedures went. But I was also lucky to meet a lot of other exchange students on the first day, who had to go through the same procedure.
Next, I had to find suitable classes for my study programme. Although I had already checked classes at Strathclyde before I came here, I had to make changes to them because not all of the classes were available. I soon found three interesting classes to take. In this case it’s good to be a physics student, there aren’t that many students and so you can have individual advising by Dr Papoff.
The semester began and I soon found out that the way of teaching and learning is a little different from what I’m used to from home. Here the students are expected to do more reading at home and do assignments in form of essays and presentations. I found this very interesting. I can’t say if this system is better than the one in Austria, which is more centred on hard math skills and oral exams, but I’m glad to have seen both worlds.
The social life at Strathclyde seems very active. There are many clubs and societies and clubs to join for sports, cultural life, languages etc. Even if you’re just here for one semester you can use the opportunity to join them. It’s also a very good way to meet local Scottish students. I became a committee member of the Erasmus student network and joined the Mountaineering society for an amazing trip to the Isle of Skye.
In overall Strathclyde seems like a very international orientated university. Some of my lecturers come from other countries than Scotland/UK and there are a lot of foreign students doing their full degree here.
Of course, I didn’t spend all my time around university and used my free time to explore Glasgow and beautiful Scotland. Many of the museums in Glasgow are for free and make a great opportunity to learn about Scottish art, culture and history. Glasgow has many parks and green spaces for recreation or sports.
With my new exchange friends I did a lot of trips in Scotland. I visited historical cities like Edinburgh and Stirling, but also saw beautiful nature at Loch Lomond and the Highlands. My personal highlight was a hiking trip on the Isle of Skye.
The whole exchange semester is an exceptional experience and I’m very sad that it’s over.