Scotland student exchange

Robert Gordon University

By Sophie E. Whitely

Seneca Fashion Business Management (Current)

Fashion Arts (Alumni)

A New Adventure

Taking the opportunity to travel to another country for my education was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. In this post I’m not only going to tell you why, but I’m also going to share some of my greatest adventures in education and travel all because of the amazing staff and support at Seneca and Robert Gordon University (RGU).

One of the major reasons why I chose Scotland in particular was because of its safety and the amazing education system in the U.K. During my stay, the university not only made sure my living arrangements were handled properly with the landlords, but there were plenty of opportunities for meeting other international students to build friendships and learn who was in the same program as you while being overseas (including an amazing multicultural welcome lunch). 


Education in Aberdeen

The biggest learning point I found when the semester started was that I had to rethink my workflow and change my standards for my assignments. All my assignments were expected to be made to RGU standards including citing work in RGU Harvard format, reporting word counts and allowances, as well as having multiple sessions with many professors for each lecture. With little to no language barriers, the staff was amazing at directing international students to any U.K. resources needed for being successful in your courses, including ACORN, WGSN and any databases used for the course. 


Applying my Learning

When working on my largest project in the course, not only was I challenged by the amount of content, but also by production and time management while also living on my own and adjusting overseas, which was very rewarding. The course “Design for Client” included two large handing-in points, one was all research for the company ASOS to create a collection for a targeted market. The second included a massive amount of digital and traditional visual work to illustrate the final collection to the client all the way down to price points, fabric content, styled garments and marketing decisions. After completing (and acing) my project, it gave me a huge perspective for the fashion business management program and some of the job details in the U.K. divisions of the world. The skills I gained are invaluable to not only my final year ahead at Seneca, but also any future endeavours I will experience in the industry. Aberdeen itself is not only safe, its people are very friendly and it’s easy to get around town. I also ended up having some of the most incredible roommates share my flat.


Scotland and U.K. Exchange Tips

When it comes to the overall experience, there were a lot of things I learned while living in Scotland that I hope to share with others. Key categories include transit and the Railcard, living areas and food, RGU Harvard standards and academic help.

Transportation & RGU

With a transit company called “First Bus,” students have a direct bus onto the school grounds no matter where they live in Aberdeen. Passes are available in physical form or you could save money (and paper) by using your phone and the mobile app for your pass and tickets.

Another huge tip I learned earlier on was that the Railcard applies to trips across the U.K. and once you have one for a year, any tickets you buy with the Railcard are discounted 25 per cent. This acts like a student discount for a year and can be obtained using your passport as ID when you sign up for a Railcard. One of the best times this helped with my weeks away in Glasgow and London.

Living as Students

Living arrangements and moving in was seamless for me since RGU and the student living areas work together to make sure every student is taken care of, even if you live in semi-private or private housing while away.

There are also many local shops and restaurants as well as big name brand stores that give student discounts and coupons. Some gave me discounts with ID, and some used them through the UNIDAYS app on my phone. I was also able to mention being Canadian and any taxes/VAT I paid was refunded via a forum on my receipts.

Student Assistance

RGU and their staff were incredible at helping out students from abroad no matter the question or the situation, and it made my experience that much more enjoyable. The main health building of the school has a student help desk that helped with immigration appointments, questions, legal documents and even how to be assigned to a medical doctor if you get sick abroad.

There is also a large section in your student login I was shown with a processor about using Harvard RGU work citing instead of Modern Language Association (MLA) or American Psychological Association (APA) style, and what was expected of me for reports and essays. 


Treasured Memories in the U.K.

During my time away, I purposely planned around school and an extra month after it finished, so that I would have some time to explore the U.K. While away, there were several amazing experiences I had with friends and family, and even new friendships I built over my time away that I’ll keep forever. Here are some of my highlighted experiences including Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland; Paris, France; and London and Brighton in England. With Seneca, I was able to grow educationally and emotionally though the six months away and I will be forever grateful. 


I was able to explore the streets of London twice while away in the U.K. From Brighton’s beach and beautiful pier, to the Queen’s Castle, Phantom of the Opera, British Museum and my final two days ending with two BTS concert days at Wembley Stadium. With new friends and old, London became one of my favourite excursions while away in Scotland.

Edinburgh & Castles

In February, I was lucky enough to visit Edinburgh for a couple days. including a visit to Edinburgh Castle and climbing the mountain that is Arthur’s Seat with some of my Canadian friends who came to visit. During my final week, my parents and sister made a surprise visit and we drove around the highlands to see some of the castles such as Dunnottar Castle and Craigevar Castle.


During the timeframe of London Fashion Week, I was able to see many sights during my stay. From a night stroll with an old Seneca alum buddy under the Eiffel Tower, to an afternoon at Disneyland Paris. My fashionista heart was full to say the least, and it is quite easy to safely travel to each landmark around Paris. 


With one of my sweetest and newest friends, I was able to spend a week in Glasgow. I explored the Glasgow museum, ate at the local LGBT drag bingo night and strolled though some beautiful parks nearby. There was even a huge shopping outdoor mall (with a Tim Hortons).