Towson Abroad: On-Site in England & Scotland

This post comes from our Associate Director Kelly Holland who recently visited our partner schools in England and Scotland. Be sure to scroll down and check our her beautiful pictures at the end of the post!

This past July I was fortunate to visit ten of our partner schools in the United Kingdom. From central London to northeastern Newcastle to coastal Dundee, I got a firsthand look at the universities where our students study and the cities they call their home away from home. Below you’ll find just a few details about the schools I visited, and some photos .. of course.


In the city of Leeds, 2.5 hours north of London, I visited two of our most popular schools: Leeds University and Leeds Metropolitan University. Leeds is delightful city – walkable and winding through both campuses and home to the Grand Depart of the Tour de France this summer! Both schools have a wide variety of coursework available and modern, exciting facilities. Leeds Uni would be best suited to a student looking for a campus feel in a city location and Leeds Met is a great exchange option for our in-state students.


In London there are many schools that we work with, but two I visited in particular. One being Middlesex University where TU students can study for a full academic year on exchange, and the second being the AIFS campus of Richmond, the American International University in London. Both are small, compact campuses, Middlesex north of the city and full of international students and Richmond tucked into one of my favorite neighborhoods: Kensington Gardens, smack in the middle of London. AIFS Richmond is a great fit for students looking for electives in short or long term programs and Middlesex is an inexpensive option for the long haul.


Traveling to Northeastern England by train was beautiful, and the cities of Newcastle and Sunderland are well connected by train and metro. Newcastle University has an urban feel and is tucked into the city with a population of 21,000 students. Newcastle is highly ranked in the UK and has a variety of coursework available to TU students.


A short metro ride from bustling Newcastle is University of Sunderland, a truly creative space. Home to one of the only on-campus radio stations in the UK (so they say) SPARK Sunderland is home to radio, television and journalism students. With two campuses (City Campus and St. Peter’s Campus) within walking distance of each other, students can appreciate the city and the university. I was most impressed by the Sports Science facilities including a large technical space for biometrics testing, as well as the National Glass Centre which is open for students and the public alike. Fantastic option for exchange!


One of my new favorite cities in the UK, Exeter sits in the southwest of England, a 2.5 hour train ride from London. The campus is up on a hill overlooking this classic English town and Exeter University is ranked among the Top 10 in the UK. With a mix of old and new buildings across campus I really enjoyed the student union (Forum). Full of resources, activities, food and student support it is a bright, open space where students can learn, relax and meet up. This is a great choice for exchange!


While the city was preparing for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, I snuck in to visit Strathclyde University. Towson also partners with nearby Glasgow University, just outside the city center. Strathclyde is an urban campus, with buildings in and around a bustling city center. Strathclyde’s Business School is triple accredited, including accreditation by the AACSB (just like Towson) – which is a great match for our students. The science facilities are tremendous with plenty of research spaces and labs for both science and computing. A good find for a Business student or a STEM student.


With Edinburgh castle looming at the top of the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Napier University is home to three campuses: Sighthill (Health, Life and Social Sciences), Craiglockart (Business School) and Merchiston (Engineering, Computing & Creative Industries). Students can take courses across the campuses and most recently we had a TU student studying in Business and Communications in this historical gem of a city. Another solid choice in Scotland.


Hanging onto the Northeastern coast of Scotland is the city of Dundee and Dundee University. This is a small university with 18,000 students and a curriculum well known for medicine and sciences. I would not consider this an urban campus as the area is very quiet and the campus is contained in one area. This campus is good for a student looking for a more community feel.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Q&A Spotlight: Katherine Garrity

Name: Katherine Garrity
Major: Business Administration with concentration in Marketing
Grad Year: May 2015
Hometown: Newtown Square, PA
Destination Abroad: Edinburgh, Scotland
Term Abroad: Spring 2014
Program Abroad: TU UK Direct Edinburgh Napier University

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Q: FOOD, your favorite subject & ours. Best dish? Worst dish? New recipe you picked up?
The best thing I had abroad BY FAR was Irish stew and soda bread in Cork, Ireland. The stew and soda bread were so fresh and delicious that Julie still talk about it to this day. The worst thing I had was this drink that is essentially the national drink of Scotland, Irn Bru. The Scots swear by it but I think it’s awful. It tastes like liquid bubble gum. Surprisingly, it is known to be a good hangover cure though.

Q: PLACES, talk about your favorite spot in your home away from home. Where? Why?
It’s so hard to pick a favorite place but I would have to say Black Medicine Coffee Company. This coffee shop hangout place was two doors down from my flat and I became a regular. I love the guys Alex the Aussie and his coworkers; they are so sweet and funny. The shop in and of itself was one of those places you can just sit and stay a while without worrying about taking up space or being a burden. Plus the fact that they make amazing paninis, coffee drinks, pastries, and so many other things doesn’t hurt. Coming in close second though is Princes Street. Princes Street is the hub of Edinburgh (parallel to the Royal Mile). There’s so many shops including my personal fave Primark. Primark is kind of similar to Forever 21 but massive and super affordable. I completely recommend going there as many times as humanly possible.

Q: TOP SECRET, did a local point you to a market, pub, or park you didn’t know about? Pass it on.
The pub that my friends and I went to on a daily basis is called the Golf Tavern. The Golf is one of the oldest pubs in Scotland (founded in 1456). The Golf sits right next to the Bruntsfield Links golf course and has a ton of history. The atmosphere was always awesome and they have different themes for each night of the week such as trivia night, live music, and open mic. The Golf also gives an amazing student discount of 25% off and you can’t beat that. Also, their mac n cheese is beyond flat had a club of the people that ate the whole bowl of mac n cheese because it was so big.

Q: NOPE, are there things you don’t miss from your destination? What? Why?
The lack of respect for yoga pants as casual pants. The UK students dress up for everything, including class, so when Americans showed up wearing yoga pants to an early morning class you got looked at like you had three heads.

Q: YEP, you’re actually homesick for something from abroad. What? Why?
I miss everything and I’m not even exaggerating. My flatmates, the grocery store across the street, the Scottish accent, etc.

Q: SPEAKING OF, what new vocabulary have you added to your repertoire after study abroad?
I don’t use Scottish vocab that much but I can place different Scottish accents (like the region people are from) it’s kind of creepy actually.

Q: SHOCKING, you could hardly believe your eyes when you saw … What? Why?
Subway! It was my first hour of being in Scotland and I thought that everything would be foreign to me but then I saw different U.S. chains. Subway and Papa Johns were randomly pretty common.

Q: WEEKENDS, full of travel. Where did you go? How did you choose? Was it difficult to plan?
I went all over Scotland during the weekends. I really wanted to explore the place that was my home for four months and I did just that. A lot of the time a few of my friends and I would just be like “do you want to go somewhere this weekend?” and we would just go someplace! Even if the town was small or not what we expected we made the best of it and had a blast. The hardest part of planning trips was probably which hostel to stay in. Hostels can be really awesome or not so awesome so researching them was one of the most essential parts of a trip.

The best trip I went on abroad was a bus trip I took with a big group of my friends across Scotland that ended in Isle of Skye. Our amazing driver and tour guide gave us a crash course in Scottish history of the places we passed or stopped in along the way and stories that shaped the way the people had lived. That trip made me love Scotland even more than before and gave me some of my favorite memories from abroad.

Q: TOUGHEST DAY, everyone has one. What challenged you while you were abroad? Why?
My toughest day was probably about 3 months in. I felt really homesick and alone. I think I was in that stage where I would see that my friends were hanging out together and I felt like I was missing out. All my friends in my flat were going through similar things so that helped me distract myself and be focused on something other than being sad. I pushed myself to go and explore rather than sit inside and scroll through Facebook. Getting a change of scenery or just hanging out with other people helped more than I can say.

Q: PARTING WORDS. What would you say to students worried / concerned / afraid of studying abroad?
I would say go for it. Take the risk. Do it even if it scares you. Before I went abroad I was stressed and constantly worrying if I was making the right decision. The thing that scared me the most was the fact that I didn’t know anyone. No one from towson was going on this trip with me and I was worried that i wouldn’t make any friends. But you know what, not knowing anyone was probably the best thing for me. I was a small fish in a big pond but it was okay. I had a clean slate to make this experience what I wanted it to be. I did things during my time abroad that I wouldn’t have ever done in my life. I made friends with people I would have never met otherwise who live around the world. And I had a freaking blast. Studying abroad was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I cant imagine what my life would be like if I never took the leap of faith.

Fall 2013 Photo Contest: Top Ten

G’Day Travelers,

Every semester we ask our students to submit photos of themselves during their time abroad for our bi-annual photo contest. The Fall entries include students who have studied abroad either in the previous spring or summer semester. The first round of voting happens in the office and on social media with the photographer’s name hidden and their image doing all the talking. Once the photos are narrowed down to the Top Ten, we post them at our pre-departure social, and our pre-departure orientation for fellow study abroad participants to vote on them. The photos below are of students whose photos made it into our Top Ten.

This semester, our winning photos will be hosted in the Honors College. Stop by Stephens Hall to take a look!


Scotland: Traveling Around

My name is Paige and I have been studying abroad in Scotland at the University of Dundee since January. I have really enjoyed my study abroad experience and have been given the opportunity to make friends with people from all over the world. I have become close with people from many different continents including South America, Europe, and Australia. I would say my favorite part of studying in Europe has been how affordable it has been to take trips and see the rest of Europe while I’ve been here. I have managed to take trips to various other European cities including Paris, Dublin, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Krakow, Prague, Amsterdam, and Rome. I think my favorite would have to be Rome, but probably because the weather was so beautiful and living in Scotland has really made me appreciate the sun since we rarely see it here. I have also found the UK school system to be very different from the American system, and it has been very challenging. The grading is very different as well as the teaching styles. Overall my experience has been very rewarding.

Below is a picture I took of a dog in Paris getting his portrait done, which I thought was really cute.

The next picture is of Dunnottar Castle in Scotland, which I visited in February.

The next picture is of me at Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Italy.

As well as one more picture I took while visiting the Auschwitz-birkenau museum while I was in Poland, which was a day that weighted heavy on my heart but it was important to me to see and acknowledge it.

Pagie Tester

University of Dundee, Scotland

Spring 2013

Scotland: A visit to Arthur’s Seat

Today our group ventured out of Glasgow and headed to the city of Edinburgh, Scotland. The day began with touring the main Scottish Rugby Stadium and was was followed by climbing up Arthur’s Seat. Arthur’s Seat is one of the four hill forts and dates back about 2,000 years. I think today was one of my favorite days.


It was snowing when we started the climb and by the time we got to the top, the clouds had cleared and there was a beautiful view of the city.


We toured St. Andrew’s Golf Course on Monday and the view from the top of the hill revealed a different perspective to view the course way beyond the sea and other hills. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment getting to the top! The rest of the day included various tours and sightseeing, but the climb was definitely the highlight! (at least for me) I would recommend climbing Arthur’s Seat to anyone who is up for a bit of a challenge and some fun!