Few countries in the world can boast a life span as rich or diverse as Scotland. The true story of the people, the battles, the nobility and its kings and queens, is more thrilling than any novel, and has more love stories than all the Hollywood movies. In one way or another Scots have made our lives different. From the inventor Alexander Graham Bell, to philosopher David Hume, to industrialist Andrew Carnegie, Scotland’s influence on the world is impressive relative too its small geographical stature.

Scotland is a nation, but no longer an independent state. Its history reads like a novel with heroes and heroines, bravery in battle, treachery and lust for power all well documented. After initially repelling Roman occupation during the early first and second centuries, the Scots seemed to be in constant battle with their Anglo-Saxon neighbours to the south. With the Highlands the last to cede, and after having fought long and hard to remain a soovereign nation, Scotland surrendered its independence in an act of Parliamentary Union with England and Wales in the early 1700’s. However, the church, legal and educational systems and local government remain proudly Scottish to this day. Its people are feisty, op

pinionated and fiercely loyal, but with a sip of Scotch whiskey, arguably their most famous export, you will soon “warm” to them.
People are routinely confused by Scotland’s relationship to Great Britain. It is important to note that Scotland, England and Wales are all countries in their own right, but combined they constitute the island nation of Great Britain. Northern Ireland and Great Britain combined are known as the United Kingdom (UK) and if you combine the Republic of Ireland with the UK you have the British Isles. The modern history of Britain is considered to have started around the mid 1400’s. By that time Wales had been conquered by England, and Scotland had become part of Great Britain when thhe King of Scots succeeded to the English throne. Suffice it to say, however, that each country has a rich, elaborate history unto itself.

People & Culture
The name “Scotland” derives from the Scotia, a Celtic tribe who migrated to Scotland from Ireland during the fifth and sixth centuries and who, in time, merged through conquest and intermarriage with the Pictish tribes to form the nucleus of the Scottish nation. The official language of the nation is English, although Gaelic is sp

poken, primarily in the Highlands and the Islands and the Scots language (which has many similarities to English, but also draws on French and Gaelic) is also spoken in the Lowlands.
The people of Scotland are said to have a rock-solid identity and sense of self – they are proud of their heritage no matter where in the world they may have migrated. 5.2 million people inhabit Scotland and are mainly Caucasian, although many ethnicities can be found, particularly in the larger cities. Two-thirds of Scots belong to the Church of Scotland, although the more rigorous United Free Presbyterian Church is more popular in the Highlands and Islands.
Culturally speaking, Scotland can boast when it comes to folk art, literature and festivals. Encompassing all of these cultural facets is the annual Edinburgh International Festival – one the world’s leading arts events. This is the largest festival in all of Britain and a must if you are interested in seeing fringe theatre, music and poetry being performed to audiences from all over the world. Throughout the year there are many other less famous, but equally enjoyable festivals presented within the country.
In terms of exports, Scotland has given much to the world besides its wh
hiskey. Perhaps the most famous icon of Scottish traditional culture is the Highland bagpipe, which achieved the height of its popularity during Queen Victoria’s reign because she liked to be woken by one playing outside her window. Tartans (kilts), another Scottish icon, date back to the Roman period, but were only associated with particular clans after the 17th century. Additionally, the Scots are quite famous in the world of science where they are credited with discoveries such as bitumen, waterproofing, the telephone, the television and radar.

Geography & Climate
Scotland is about half the size of England and comparable in size to Maine. With a varied landscape of rolling hills, lowlands and mountains, geographically it can be divided into three areas: the Southern Uplands, the Central Lowlands and the Northern Highlands and Islands, with two thirds of the country designated as either mountains or moorlands. Scotland is also noted for its lochs (the name generally used for lakes in Scotland). Much of the west coast of the country is intersected by sea lochs, the longest of which, Loch Fyne, penetrates more than 40 miles inland. Of course the most notable loch in Scotland is Loch Ness – the one with the monster!
There are wi

ide variations in climate over small distances in Scotland. Although the country lies just south of the Arctic Circle, the Gulf Stream winds keep the temperature relatively mild. The east coast tends to be cool and dry, with winter temperatures rarely dropping below freezing, while the west coast is milder and wetter, with average summer highs of 66 F. May and June are the driest months and July and August are the warmest.

Health & Safety

Violent crimes are still very rare in Scotland and city centers are safe for the most part. With that being said, you should be cautious in areas with which you are unfamiliar. We always advise you to use common sense while you are traveling to other countries. In terms of personal health, while studying in Scotland you will need to have health insurance to cover you in case of an accident. Students who will spend more than six months in Scotland will technically be able to use the national health plan. However, we recommend that you always purchase supplemental insurance. CIS can make arrangements for you to purchase comprehensive international heath and travel insurance for about $40.00-$50.00 in a month.

Scotland’s Educational System
Scotland, being part of Britain, shares its education system. Due to colonization, the British education system, or remnants thereof, is seen throughout the world. Britain is home to some of the leading educational institutions in the world. There are 168 universities and colleges of higher education in Britain, with a total of 1.8 million full and part-time students enrolled in higher education. The major difference with the Scottish education system is that bachelor degrees are four years (as compared to three in the rest of Britain.)
More than 30 percent of young people in Britain attend college or university. You will find that learning at British universities is much different that that of an American institution in that much more responsibility for learning the material is given to the student. Keeping in mind that there is no standardization of degrees in Britain, teaching methods and assessment vary from institution to institution. In general academic life in British universities consists of large lectures followed by more intimate tutorials and labs where the information is studied in detail. You are expected to read, research and prepare outside of class time.


The city of Stirling is in the center of Scotland – 30 miles from Glasgow and 40 miles from Edinburgh – an easy train ride from either of Scotland’s two largest cities. Known as the Gateway to the Highlands, Stirling, an ancient fortress city with a long and colorful history, sits just south of the Scottish Highlands. William Wallace (a.k.a., Braveheart), Scotland’s National Hero, made his famous stand in Stirling when he defeated the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Over the years, Stirling’s location gave it a central role in the history of Scotland and for many centuries, Stirling Castle was the royal residence of kings and queens (and it is still in existence today).
Modern day Stirling still has an old world charm with many of the original buildings from centuries still standing, but it is now a manufacturing, administrative, shopping and tourist center which offers easy access to the Highlands. With a population of 35,000 Stirling offers all you would want in a city – theatre, pubs, restaurants, clubs – in a small, safe environment and it is easily accessible from the campus by regular bus service. Should one want to get away on the weekend, there is hourly train service to Edinburgh (45 minutes one way) and Glasgow (30 minutes one way) and from either major city you can find inexpensive flights to other European destinations.

CIS works with University of Stirling. The University offers semester / year and summer programs.

Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, is an ancient city built on crags and cliffs, with serpentine streets that rise and dip. During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Edinburgh was the focus of an age of Scottish cultural brilliance which produced philosophers such as David Hume. Today its castles and palaces, its Great Kirk, its ancient streets and galleries are major attractions for tourists and students who attend its universities.

CIS works with Napier University in Edinburgh.

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