Monica Micheal opted to leave her native Canada to study her undergraduate degree in Pharmacy at Strathclyde. Having never visited Scotland before, Monica has found a home-from-home in Glasgow. Here she talks about her experience as a student.
Why did you choose Strathclyde?
I applied to Strathclyde because one of my closest friends from Canada was studying veterinary medicine at UoG. Whilst I applied to different schools, the university gave me an unconditional offer which also swayed me.
Had you previously visited Scotland?
I hadn't, I knew nothing about Scotland before I came.
How will the course help you in your future career?
Absolutely. The MPharm program is a professional degree, so most students that apply are interested in becoming a pharmacist and that’s what the program allows them to become. However, there are many other opportunities that the program provides such as working in the industry.
Are you involved in any University societies or clubs?
I'm a student ambassador for the university, as I enjoy talking to prospective students. I really enjoy sharing my experience with other people. My friends and I have also started a baking club at the university back in first year which has been fun. The pharmacy society also hosts a lot of socials every year which have always done well. There’s a range of things you can do, I’ve been to some of the Zumba classes at the gym and out-with school: mini-putting, painting pottery, science centres, concerts… etc.
Have you done much travelling since arriving in Scotland?
I have travelled somewhat during my years and the program has sent me to different cities around Scotland for placement. However, I probably haven’t travelled as much as I liked due to how busy the program can be.
What were your main concerns before coming to Scotland and how have these been alleviated?
A main concern for me was the culture difference and accent. I was very concerned due to the difference in background, that it would be hard to connect with people if we couldn’t relate to each other. Everyone - staff and students, but also strangers - I have met at the beginning was so interested that I was Canadian and wanted to know more about me and why I chose to come to Scotland. It wasn’t very long before I found a group of friends that I really connected with. At first, I definitely struggled to understand the accent, it can be a bit of a learning curve depending on how heavy the accent is. However, my friends helped me a lot with explaining different phrases and slang. It does get a lot easier over time.
The main way I alleviated my worries overall was just immersing myself into the culture and pushing myself to get to know more people even though it was uncomfortable at first. It did pay off in the end because I’ve made connections and networked with a variety of people. Coming to a new country can be overwhelming, it was for me, but you do settle in after a few weeks and as you become more comfortable, the concerns are something you can laugh about afterwards.
What is your favourite thing about Glasgow?
Glasgow has ruined shopping for me, I don’t know how I’m going to cope with not having the stores here, back home. I am actually going to dread not having a Primark near me and the sales here are so much better than they are in Canada.
The food. Glasgow has such an abundance of different restaurants and they’re all incredible (for the most part). If you love curry and you love chips (fries), this is the place for you.
What would you say to other students who are thinking about studying overseas?
The biggest one is definitely the people. I’ve met some incredible people during my time here, that I know will be friends for life. I also feel like a lot of people share a similar sense of humour as I do here more than back home which is something I will definitely miss.
If I could also add, the scenery. The architectural structure of the buildings here are different than in Canada and the USA and I don’t think I could ever get bored at looking at them. I think Scotland has some of the most gorgeous scenery I’ve ever seen. The mountains, the beaches, the sheep!
If you have the opportunity to study overseas, even if it’s just an exchange, do it. Everything seems impossible until it’s done. I know a lot of international students and none of them has disliked their time here. If you’re worried about going to a different country, everyone in Glasgow and Strathclyde is very welcoming and accommodating. I have studied at a Canadian university before I applied to Strathclyde and if you were to compare the two universities, Strathclyde is on another level. Plus, there’s so much to do in Scotland, that you probably won’t even feel homesick because you’re so busy!