Geri Ivanova: University of Aberdeen


Name: Gergana Ivanova
University:  University of Aberdeen
City and country: Aberdeen, Scotland
Major: International Relations and Linguistics
Year: 3rd
The university

Being my uni, it is the only one I love and I would say choosing to study here is the best decision I have ever made. But in order to be objective I will back up my statement with some facts:

  • Founded in 1495, Scotland’s third oldest university and the fifth oldest in the UK
  • Ranked in world top 1%
  • Five Nobel Laureates are associated with the University of Aberdeen
  • Student community representing 120 nationalities
  • One of the largest wireless campuses in Europe, and strategy to continually improve student accommodation and facilities
  • Over 150 sports clubs and societies, an Olympic-standard Aberdeen Sports Village and an Aquatic Centre

If you are EU citizen, the government will pay your fee once you got accepted in Scotland. This is the website where you can find all the information about funding that you need.


The city

Aberdeen is a lovely place with awful weather. With 220,400 inhabitants, Aberdeen is the third most populous city in Scotland.It is known as the Granite City for its abundance of impressive granite architecture. The best thing about them is that the stone’s silvery flecks make the city sparkle when it is raining (most of the time). The city is not that big, so most of the places are in a walking distances from each other. We have lots of beautiful beaches which we can’t use as proper beaches – to swim and sunbath but they are gorgeous for a walk and a relaxed afternoon. Aberdeen gets fewer than seven hours of daylight in winter, but nearly 18 hours at its peak in the summer.


The major

I am doing a Joint Honours Degree in International Relations and Linguistics. This means that I am doing two degrees at the same time- something very common here. I am happy with the major but when it comes to criticizing I would say I would prefer more work to be done in class. The workflow here is: you do 10 % of the work in class and the rest- on your own or in teams.


The subjects

The curriculum is very flexible. Usually, there is only one prescribed course per academic semester (one that you must have) and you choose all the others by yourself. It depends on the department what you can choose from but most of the time there is plenty of choice. In the first year of studies you have enough extra credits to try different subjects and see what is for you. Some people take language courses to develop their skills.


Difficulties experienced during the first year

There are difficulties but there is a solution for each of them. Doric- the local dialect is difficult/ impossible to understand. You won’t hear it in the university though, so it is not a big deal. It is at the beginning hard to adapt to the weather. But you get used to it at some point. A difficulty I remember from my first year is that the Halls of Residence where most of the students live (and I did, too) are very close to the campus of the university but too far away from the City Center.


University library & literature

The University of Aberdeen’s Sir Duncan Rice Library was formally opened on Monday 24 September 2012 (when I was a fresher) by HM The Queen, accompanied by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. The library costs £57million and provides an advanced learning environment, latest learning technology and a collection of over one million books.

I know most of the students would ask do they need to buy textbooks and the answer is- it depends on the course. There are copies in the library but often they are heavy demand and thus difficult to borrow for more than 3 days.

Our university library is a place which makes you want to study!


Career Center and professional development

The university curriculum aims to develope ‘graduate attributes’. The Career Center of the University offers variety of programmes and initiatives to connect the students with employers.  You can apply for work experience during studies and internships. If you are undertaking active role in the student life, you can get a STAR Award. There is also a Career Mentoring Programme which matches a student with a successful graduate who mentors him/her.



The Scottish Premier League football club, Aberdeen F.C. plays at Pittodrie Stadium, so all football fans can enjoy that. The university has a huge Sports Village and Aquatic Center where everybody can attend all kind of activities.


Leisure time

The best thing about the universities in UK are the university societies. Those are informal groups of students, gathered because of an interest they all share. Those societies have their own committee (I need to do a bit of Marketing, that is why I will add that I am the PR of the Bulgarian Society). Our university has over 120 societies and I can’t actually describe the magic they create.  Enjoying a society is what many students do in their free time.

There is much more do in Aberdeen too- more than 200 castles around the city, whiskey distilleries, parks and gardens, the biggest Scottish amusement park, clubs, etc.


Cultural and social events

The most important museums to see in the city are Aberdeen Art Gallery, Award-winning Maritime Museum, Marischal Museum and University Collections and Exhibitions.

One of the best social events is the Torcher Parade- Europe’s largest student-led parade that raises thousands of pounds for local charities every year.


Cut the costs

Due to the Oil & Gas industry booming in Aberdeen, living tends to be expensive, but on the average Aberdonian’s wage it is comfortably affordable. According to the statistics, wages are three times higher than those in Manchester or Birmingham. This has pushed Aberdeen into the top three most expensive places to live outside of London.

However, all the students manage to cut the costs. There are many deals you can find, you don’t necessarily need the public transport and you can also find clubs with free entrance. Primark is the best place on Earth to buy clothes. There are also plenty of charity shops which offer new and second-hand items in more than reasonable prices. All the money goes to charity and the people, who work there, are volunteers. This is a very nice way to do both- cut your costs and donate for charity.


Insurances and transport

The transport in the city is quite expensive. A student card costs 350 pound for an academic year (or 300 if it is on sale in September). One-way ticket is about 2.50 depending on the bus. Daily student ticket costs 3.50. Nigh buses are even more expensive.

As a student, you don’t really need insurance because the Health Care is free for students. Yeeeah! And the drugs too. (Although the doctors here tend to avoid prescribing drugs).


Jobs and work permit

Aberdeen City and Shire has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country – 1.4%  It is almost impossible not to find a job here. There are no work permits any more, so you can work as much as you want. However, if you want to have enough time to study and enjoy the university life, 20 hours per week are enough. The national minimum wage is £6.50 from this October if you are aged above 21. If you are between 18 and 21 it is £5.13.