I spent a semester studying cyber security and network management at Robert Gordon University in the city of Aberdeen, Scotland. I arrived in Aberdeen in September 2023 and came back to Finland in January 2024.

Adapting to life in Aberdeen wasn’t too difficult. The Scots are a warm and friendly people, who tend to communicate in a blunt yet amicable manner. As a Finn, I felt a kind of kinship with the locals: both Finns and Scots tend to be pretty “no-nonsense” in their manners, and both generally just want to get along and go about their day. Compared to, say, England, there was a somewhat more Nordic feel to Scottish culture. There is a refreshingly honest “straight shooter” quality to the Scottish people, with not much propensity for idle small talk.

Marischal College in Aberdeen

Aberdeen is slightly smaller compared to my hometown Tampere, with a population of around 200 000. It felt like a city that’s “not too big and not too small”. There were plenty of things to see and do in Aberdeen, without the city being so big as to feel overwhelming. The local accent did take some getting used to, but it didn’t feel nearly as unintelligible as some say it is.

Studying at Robert Gordon University was definitely a positive experience. The university was modern with great facilities for IT studies. The quality of teaching was great, and the professors were clearly knowledgeable and passionate about their work. The studies were more focused on attendance & doing live lab work compared to my studies at Tampere University. Having to go to uni almost every day did feel like a pain at times, but this also meant it was really easy to communicate with my professors. Getting some real hands-on experience with the subject matter in lab sessions was nice compared to the more theoretical nature of my studies at my home university.

During my time in Scotland, I had the good fortune to make friends with other exchange students and found a nice group of people to spend time with outside lectures. The RGU Erasmus Student Network (ESN) was responsible for organizing various events for us exchange students. For example, they organized a one-day coach trip to Inverness & Loch Ness that was a positively wonderful experience.

Urquhart Castle ruins on the shore of Loch Ness

All in all, I had a wonderful time during my exchange studies in Aberdeen. I would whole-heartedly recommend anyone to take the plunge and apply for student exchange. It’s a unique opportunity to experience something that stays with you for the rest of your life.