American student Jacob is currently studying for his PhD within the Department of Architecture. He first came to Scotland in September 2011 to study an MSc in Urban Design after spending two years teaching English in Spain.
Why did you choose to study at Strathclyde?
I was looking for an urban design course that would take people who hadn’t studied architecture. I found a list of urban design courses in the world and I contacted this one and they said that even though I hadn’t studied architecture I could still qualify for the course and that’s what brought me here.
What help did you have during the application process?
Every time I had a question I emailed either the course secretary, the professor on the course or Chris from the international department. They were really quick at getting back to me and if there was something they couldn’t answer, they’d try to help me. I also had an hour-long phone conversation with my professor, who taught the course, before I came here because she was telling me about the course, what would happen, about Glasgow and this and that. It was pretty nice.
How has the University lived up to your expectations?
I wanted to come and do a Masters degree and it was a really good course. Also, having been here for three years, and now that I’m a PhD student, I can really see what the University has to offer. There are a lot of resources and help for the students. It’s good. Also, when I needed help one day I just went knocking on random doors in the department asking, and a post-doctorate student was there and he offered to help me with my project for free until it was done.What differences are there between studying in the UK and studying at home?
There are a lot of American schools that aren’t in cities so I was on a university campus which was nice, in it’s own right, but I think it’s more interesting to be here. I think Strathclyde is much more focused on realistic applications of what you’re learning too. There’s a lot of engagement with local businesses and conferences and I had a professor who taught me on my Urban Design course, who owns an urban design firm and who I later did an internship with, which is not the experience I had at home.
What challenges have you had as an international student?
Getting used to another culture, a different city, how things work but there’s such a big international community here so it gets easier.
How did you find your private rented accommodation?
I knew someone who lived in Glasgow, he studied abroad here for a year, and he kept recommending the West End. When I got here, I went to the West End and I found an advert in a shop and that’s how I got my flat, but also my course director put me in touch with somebody when I was looking which was helpful. Now, when new students come into the University, they’re put in touch with me for some help which is nice, so there’s always somebody here to help you. Even if the University doesn’t have an official protocol to find non-university accommodation for students, someone’s still going to help you, definitely.
What do you think about Glasgow?
I just like that I can walk around and be in the city. It’s a good, comfortable place to be – despite the weather! Between the University, the city and the people, it’s very comfortable.
What would you say to anyone considering coming to study here as an international student?
I think they should do it. You get treated as someone who can contribute here, rather than just someone who can come and learn and then leave. There are opportunities here, funding, different ways of thinking, different people. You have different attitudes and different experiences from everyone that comes. It’s a good thing.