Moving from Canada to Aberdeen with my Saltire Scholarship

Taylor moved from Canada to Scotland to study a Master’s in Physiotherapy at RGU after obtaining a Saltire Scholarship. She tells us about preparing for new beginnings, travelling to Scotland and settling in Aberdeen and at university.

Getting the Saltire Scholarship and preparing for new beginnings

Having the courage to undertake a new personal challenge and work on expanding my horizons is a feat I know I will cherish for the rest of my life. Now that I was accepted to the most well-rounded Physiotherapy programme I could ever imagine, it was time to figure out the logistics of ensuring my success. It can be extremely expensive moving to another country, let alone starting education!

My first step was to review my personal finances and make a plan that not only included tuition, but the cost-of-living fees. Living within your means, wherever you are in the world, is always a lesson worth exploring and mastering. Thankfully, there are organisations that can help you out, such as the Saltire Scholarship, which I immediately found interest in. Not only does it provide a competitive financial benefit, but there is a network of scholars you can connect with. What better way for an international student to start their new arrival in Scotland?

Unfortunately, I was not successful in the application process for the scholarship at first. I felt discouraged, as I thought it was a great opportunity that I had missed out on. A few weeks passed and as I finally secured accommodation, I received the best news. I was reconsidered by the team and selected to be a Saltire Scholar! Woohoo! Things were finally coming together.

Moving from Canada to Scotland

All the documents are prepared, the flights are booked, lease signed, and a whole set of suitcases are packed waiting to arrive in Scotland. I can’t tell you how excited and amazed I was to embark on a journey I knew I would never regret. It was finally my time, despite all the challenges I had faced thus far, to take it to a whole different level.

Then, my airline lost my suitcases. I was weirdly calm about it, even though I was missing quite literally all my belongings. But I was in Scotland! And my goodness, how GREEN it is here! I am originally from a small town in Northern Ontario, Canada, where I am a well-seasoned survivor of cold, wind-blowing, white-out snow.

In my hometown during January, snow falls at least 24 days of the month. I absolutely adore the cold winter days, especially spending it outside with my two Goldendoodle pups on the snow packed trails by the lake. Naturally, the amount of green during my January arrival in Aberdeen was an exciting sight to kick off my year at RGU.

Finding and moving into private accommodation

The next part of my arrival was a blur – moving into private accommodation, setting up a cell phone plan, ensuring I had everything prepared for uni, and of course, exploring my new home!

The process of finding accommodation while living so far away was certainly a challenge. I knew I wanted private accommodation, so I started perusing popular websites such as Zoopla and Rightmove. With the COVID-19 outbreak, many private letting agents provided options to view properties online, or so I thought.

I began to search for a place to live in August 2022, hoping to secure a lease that started in January 2023. Unfortunately, this was not very fruitful, as many letting agents do not offer places until it is closer to actual move-in. In addition, there are very few options that offer virtual viewings. Fortunately, my letting agency provided an online walkthrough of my chosen flat and was very accommodating via e-mail to secure the lease.

It was important to me to verify the details of the lease, and RGU made that very easy with their Student Help Point. I was able to get in contact with individuals in the accommodations department that could review my lease and verify the landlord and letting agency. I was much more confident in finalizing my flat after the staff at RGU and the Student Help Point had answered all my questions pertaining to my private accommodation.

Exploring Aberdeen and the rest of Scotland

Got the keys to the flat, what’s next? Time to explore my new surroundings! Aberdeen is such a lovely, easy-going city full of Scottish culture. The transport links are amazing for students, with First Bus offering student packages for the academic year. However, it is such a walkable city – especially living close to the city centre.

Outside of the city is lovely Aberdeenshire, full of different landscapes and castles ready for you to explore. My first recommended stop was Stonehaven and the amazing Dunnottar Castle on the northeast coast of Scotland. What a view!

Dunnottar Castle

A few weeks into university, I was very lucky to book a local tour to explore Scotland even further. I travelled by rail and stayed the night in Inverness, the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. From there, the bus tour took me to Portree in the Isle of Skye. The following week, I was able to connect with a group online to hike the Forvie Sands Nature Reserve in Collieston.

There are so many ways to experience Scotland, and I am grateful to be able to see the vast sights while studying a Masters degree in Physiotherapy. I am a strong advocate for work-life balance and look forward to exploring what Aberdeen and RGU have to offer throughout my time here! Stay tuned…

Taylor Fraser

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