Studying outside Europe – USA

University of California, Berkeley

Laura (English)

I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to spend a year studying at the University of California, Berkeley. Both socially and academically it was one of the best experiences of my life so far. The campus is beautiful and green with many impressive buildings. Berkeley itself is a unique and vibrant city, much of which is orientated around the university and is only a thirty minute train ride away from San Francisco. It’s also fairly compact so it’s easy to walk around without any need for a car.

In all my classes, the professors were very enthusiastic, knowledgeable and more than willing to talk and give advice to students in their office hours. Berkeley students are known for working hard and while this was true (there were definitely more assignments and essays) that doesn’t mean there isn’t time for fun! I made friends from all over the world and together we travelled throughout California and further afield in the USA. From cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge to attending the many shows and concerts on campus, as well as the college football games, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

I would definitely recommend studying here to anyone. While it may seem daunting at first trying to sort out your visa, bank account and class enrolment, it is more than worth it for the unforgettable experience you will have!


University of California, Santa Barbara

Joanna (Classical Studies & English)

I was incredibly lucky in my University assignment as I was able to spend the year living on the beach just two hours north of L.A. The campus is nestled between the mountains and the sea a few miles away from the city of Santa Barbara, which is often referred to as the American Riviera because of the celebrity population and glamorous lifestyle.

It is the perfect place to spend a year abroad, and although the workload was heavy, it was a lot easier to keep positive when the sun was always shining and revision by the pool was commonplace. Although I was the only St Andrews student at UCSB, I made a lot of English and international friends who were equally eager to explore the country, and over the year we went to Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Las Vegas, Santa Cruz and even Florida over spring break.

I also got involved in a lot of charity work, and in February a few other British girls and I decided to organise a charity concert for Haiti, which ended up turning into a huge 3000-person concert, raising over $10,000. It was an amazing experience and opened up a lot of doors, including a job in the Associated Students media committee, where I worked for the rest of the year. Having the opportunity to both travel and establish a position within the University was amazing, and I have come home with invaluable experiences, friends for life and unforgettable memories.


University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Emily, International Relations

I could not be any more thankful that I was able to study abroad at UNC Chapel Hill. Whilst UNC is the USA’s top public university, academics are certainly not the only reason I would recommend it to anyone looking to diversify their time at university.

Photo of UNC sign

The Chapel Hill campus totally embodies the American college experience.

The small town (read: big in comparison to St Andrews) is totally covered in Carolina blue and constantly heaving with students and alumni (especially when the college’s sports teams are playing – Go Heels!). The campus is beautiful, with plenty of outdoor areas for studying or enjoying lunch, and is always jam-packed full of clubs and societies putting on spontaneous shows, or offering free merchandise or food for you on your way to class. The facilities are also of unimaginable size, quality, and quantity.

Staff and students alike are extremely welcoming and love to engage in every aspect of campus life possible – it’s really an infectious mentality and one that I am so eager to continue. Even before arriving at UNC the support is overwhelming. You’re provided with a ‘mentor’ through the student-run organization EASE who will pick you up from the airport, help you move in, show you around, and, in my case, become a close friend. I met people from all over the world as well as local students, with whom I travelled around North Carolina (weekend beach and mountain trips are easily done from UNC campus), as well as south to Charleston and Savannah, and north to DC and NY.

Southern food, southern hospitality, southern sports fans, and UNC’s liberal student body all contribute to UNC’s unrivalled study abroad experience. The only downfall is that you have to leave.


University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Heather (International Relations & Management)

Choosing to study abroad is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Looking back on my year it is filled with memories I will always cherish and people I will never forget. From the moment I arrived at Penn I was given a warm welcome from both my fellow classmates and the St Andrews Society. Throughout the year I found myself in a challenging yet engaging learning environment. Penn has a great campus and although the students work hard, it has a great social life too.

Outside of the classroom I had the opportunity to experience Penn traditions such as homecoming and spring fling as well as my first Thanksgiving. Philadelphia offers some true delights from Phillies baseball games and Cheesesteaks to some of America’s most historic sites. From late nights in the library to once-in-a-lifetime experiences, this year has been the most rewarding of my life. Studying abroad is an opportunity you can’t afford to miss and Penn offers an incredible place to do it.

Aria (Psychology)

‌UPenn is an Ivy League University currently ranked fifth in the USA. It is famous for its Wharton Business School and is considered the first University in the USA, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1740. As a student here you have the best of both worlds: experiencing the American campus lifestyle surrounded by impressive Oxbridge inspired Gothic architecture, as well as being part of the industrial vibrant city of Philadelphia.

I was taught by leading professors in the Psychology field and benefited hugely from the active teaching style. Proud of my Scottish inheritance whilst immersing myself in American culture, I became involved with the St Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia which was incredibly refreshing and provided a lot of fun at Phillies Baseball matches!

A unique, enriching year that shaped my academic career – I would encourage everyone to look into this opportunity further.


University of Richmond, Virginia

Elspeth (Geography)

Elspeth 2010-11 Richmond

Richmond offered me an amazing year abroad. The campus is beautiful, students friendly and professors very approachable. For one class we even had a river rafting field trip! There is a completely different academic format which takes time to adjust to but the education is world-class with a wide variety of modules. It’s a great location to explore the east coast, very close to Washington DC and not far more Philadelphia and New York and some gorgeous wilderness areas with reach.

Exploring the outdoors was one of the most amazing aspects of my year abroad; there is simply so much open space. During the year I had many firsts: watching American football live, celebrating Thanksgiving with marshmallow-sweet potatoes (!) and even trying a deep-fried Oreo. All in all, the year was amazing and I’d really encourage everyone interested to apply – you won’t regret it.


The College of William & Mary

Callum (International Relations)

College of William & Mary

Studying on one of the USA’s most prestigious universities was an outstanding opportunity to experience a different country and education system. William & Mary exposed me to vastly different styles of teaching – including more participatory teaching-styles and students and teachers work extremely close together. The fact that many of my professors were former State Department officials or former politicians gave me an incredible insight into the policy side of International Relations. In addition, studying at an American institution allowed me to study a range of classes not available at St Andrews, including classes on the Politics of the American South and Latin American Politics.

Outside of the classroom, my year abroad was a fantastic chance to experience life in the USA. I lived on a truly American college campus and embraced American life, attending American football and basketball games. The College also has an active ‘Greek’ life and its fraternities and sororities gave us the chance to enjoy a very American social scene. I also seized the opportunity to travel and visited a host of major cities including Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco.

It was an immensely enjoyable and beneficial experience both academically and personally. I recommend studying abroad to every student I meet. There can be no better place to study than the College of William & Mary!

Rob (International Relations)

Photo of Rob in Philadelphia at spring break

I applied to study at the College of William & Mary hoping to experience a change of scene, to have the opportunity to travel and to see how the Americans do life. I can honestly say I got more than I had applied for!  Situated in Colonial Williamsburg (a living history museum from the British occupation) the university is a site to behold.

William & Mary is coined the ‘TRIBE’ due to its close and supportive student body and although the work was quite intense I met an amazing bunch of exchange students from across Europe (E-Unit). Together with the E-Unit I threw myself into campus life and made the most of every opportunity I had.

Highlights of my time abroad include: the countless amount of incredible milkshakes; cheering on the College basketball and American football teams; taking part in a host of College traditions such as Convocation and Yule Log ceremonies; getting to New York and Philadelphia for fall break; seeing the sights in Georgetown and Washington D.C.; and skiing in Colorado.

I have come back to St Andrews with a fresh perspective, a host of new friends and a renewed interest in my course.  It has also been great to slot back into the Hockey team…a sport only played by girls in America!

Rob has also made a video showing the highlights from his year abroad.


Washington College, Maryland

Frances (International Relations)

Photo of Frances

When I found out that I had been awarded a place to study in America for a year, so many things went through my mind. Was I really ready to leave? Would I be able to make new friends? Would I find the work too hard or the teaching style engaging enough? It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Studying abroad is an opportunity to meet so many people from so many backgrounds. It provides you with exciting experiences, broadens your knowledge and gives you great opportunity to travel. I worked on a presidential campaign, a congressional campaign and interned for the Governor of Maryland. I also visited the UN headquarters and the World Bank, as well as travelling the West coast and visiting Mexico and Montreal.

Studying abroad gives you a sense of independence above and beyond going to university, and proves that you can live abroad and function in different cultures – all of which are beneficial for any career you will have. My advice to anyone thinking about studying abroad would be – be brave! Take the plunge, get out of your comfort zone a little and take advantage of all that St Andrews and the exchange universities offer – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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