Reverse study abroad: When a Scot comes to the states to study

Sara's take:


I often write about the North American perspective and experience when studying overseas, but what about the opposite?


What happens when, let's say, a born and bred Scot comes to do his master's in the U.S.?


This particular born and bred Scot also happened to spend many years working for Scottish universities recruiting North Americans to study in Scotland.


Like me, he also worked for The University of Edinburgh, which also happens to be his alma mater.


But did all his experience in helping students with the transition into a degree abroad come back to help him with his?


Let's find out!

Written by guest blogger Colin Johnston


Awright, my name is Colin, and I’m from a small town in Central Scotland called Whitburn, which is around 30 miles from Edinburgh, where I did my undergraduate and first graduate programs in law.


I ended up working in university admissions and study abroad for both The University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University before coming to the University of Texas to do my master's.


When I worked in international education, frequently the conversation would turn to our own study abroad experiences.


My answer to the question, “So where did you study abroad?” was always some slightly embarrassed variation of, “Erm, I didn't...”


This is pretty common for Scottish people. We don’t tend to study abroad, but we do love to travel.

Through my job and for fun, I travelled to more than 30 countries as well as 39 U.S. states.


Travel was a huge part of my life before coming back to school, and it’s definitely something I have missed this year.


But after working in higher education for around 10 years, I was beginning to consider my future career options.


I had thought about teaching for a few years, so I decided to look into programs in the U.S., given I spent 10 years telling U.S. students to study abroad but had never done so myself.



I’d visited Austin for work and knew I liked the city and its surroundings, so UT was on the shortlist quickly.


It was confirmed soon after when I met with some of the staff and students in the department I had applied to and felt instantly welcome.




But community is a big part of life in Scotland, and when Scots live abroad, we tend to find each other.

After settling into my program, I received a text from a friend to say he’d passed my number on to a colleague whose husband had just moved to Austin.