Views from abroad: Scotland vs U.S. college city life

Veronica Wernicke, Assistant Opinion Editor

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‘Ello lads and lassies, I hope this Thursday is treating you well. In this week’s edition of “views from abroad,” I want to focus on the college or university city life.

As a refresher, Stirling is nestled between the two larger Scotland cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh – an easy, breezy 30-minute train ride to either in fact. So, while it is smaller than both major Scottish cities, Stirling is quite cozy, yet is still a vibrant city.

My flat is located about two miles off campus and either a short bus ride or an easy 10-minute walk into the city center. Before coming to Stirling, I really wanted to live on campus, but after living off campus for about a week now, I can say I am very happy with my placement off campus because it makes going other places, like the city center and local Tesco or Sainsbury, a lot more convenient than for my few friends who live on campus.

Each day here I have tried to venture out and explore the local area, and I find myself stumbling upon a new spot each time. There are plenty of pubs, restaurants, clubs, and other attractions scattered around each corner and they really make living here quite a treat.

Compared to UNC-Wilmington (UNCW), it feels more like a college city and it is due in part to Stirling being mostly made up of uni students, whereas Wilmington is an all-around beach town, so while you can bike to the beach in 30-ish-minutes, you are not centrally located to the heart of downtown like Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) is.  

Because of the University of Stirling’s more city location, you get more of a college/uni town vibe, which I am loving. I am also getting used to local transportation, which is a lot of busing and trains. My increase in use and reliance on public transport also gives the University of Stirling more of a college city feel as well.

I ride the bus every day to get to and from campus, my flat, and the city center, and it seems bus is the most popular mode of transportation for other uni students as well. Again, this is odd because back home I am used to driving myself and seeing more bike riders thanks to beautiful sunny beach weather, which I am missing.

I also feel I have met so many more students – both local and studying abroad – during my short time here hanging in pubs and clubs than I really had at UNCW thus far.

It is also strange getting used to the fact that the drinking age is lower – between 16 and 18 depending on context instead of 21 – here so it is legal for me to drink whereas it is illegal back home in the States since I am only 20.

Because of this I also find myself going out more and maybe that is in part that since I am studying abroad I really want to experience everything I can, even if it means sitting in a local pub. I really do recommend experiencing all that you can while abroad because that is how the best memories are made.

It really is quite nice chatting up other uni students at the local pub. The Settle Inn is one of the cutest pubs I have ever seen and also a very popular spot in Stirling – they call it the “auldest pub in Stirling est. 1733” so it has got quite the charm. Someone even brought in their Scottish Terrier — you definitely would not see that in a bar in America. At least until I am 21, you probably will not find me in a bar back at UNCW because it really is not my scene and it seems like an entirely different experience compared to Scotland’s pubs.

At a bar near UNCW, I picture students throwing back the drinks, whereas here as I mentioned before you can sit back and have one or two drinks if any and have a casual relaxing chat. Not to say that uni students here don’t party and throw back drinks — there are numerous clubs around — but I have not come across any cases of that so far. The pub scene just seems so much cuter.

I am really enjoying the differences in the college/uni city vibes between Wilmington and Stirling and it is a great learning experience for me. It is interesting because there is not only a difference in the uni-city vibe but also culturally between the UK and USA that I would not have known about otherwise.