Brandon Beech fell in love with Edinburgh during a weekend visit. His subsequent postgraduate degree that matched his interests perfectly built a link with Scotland that today is central to his career.
MSc Nationalism Studies
|Year of Graduation||2011|
Why did you choose the University of Edinburgh?
While studying abroad in Cardiff, Wales, as an undergraduate, I visited Edinburgh for a weekend and immediately fell in love with the city. When I completed my bachelor’s degree, I knew I wanted to return to the UK for postgraduate studies, and was pleased to find that the University of Edinburgh had a course that was specifically suited to my interests – the MSc in Nationalism Studies. Besides my love for the city of Edinburgh and the University’s world-renowned reputation for excellence, it made sense for me to receive my master’s degree in one year in Edinburgh as opposed to a two-year programme in the United States. It doesn’t hurt that you get to see a castle on your walk to class every day. In the end, it was a perfect fit.
Your time at the University
My year in Edinburgh was unforgettable. There are too many memories from which to pick just one, but nearly all of them involve the incredible group of friends and colleagues I met throughout the year. Within a relatively small course group of 16 people, more than 10 countries were represented with classmates as young as 20 and as old as 80. We developed a unique community and friendship which we maintain to this day. From playing soccer in the meadows on Wednesday evenings and seeing each other for long stretches of essay writing in the library, to nights out singing karaoke and attending a Burns Supper together – we bonded in a way I didn’t think possible at the beginning of our first term and formed friendships that will last a lifetime.
We developed a unique community and friendship which we maintain to this day.
How does Edinburgh differ from your home town?
Edinburgh couldn’t differ more from both my hometown near Cleveland and my adopted hometown of Chicago. Edinburgh is a classic European city, with winding roads, dramatic landscapes and a castle in its centre. Its streets are lined with shops, pubs and restaurants, all offering vastly different styles and flavours from what one would find in Chicago. One minute, you find yourself on a bustling city street, but after a five-minute walk you can find yourself up on a hill in a natural oasis overlooking the city below. With about a half a million residents, it is a fraction of the size of Chicago, and while its compact size makes it easy to walk, Edinburgh’s hilly terrain and many hidden alleys (aka “closes”) make it a city one could explore for weeks on end. Because of its natural beauty, its incredible charm and the many wonderful people who reside within its limits, Edinburgh is a city like no other on Earth.
Tell us about your experiences since leaving the University
Directly after leaving Edinburgh, I completed a three-month internship at the British Consulate-General in Chicago. During this internship, I networked with employees at Scottish Development International (SDI), which serves as Scotland’s international economic development agency. Shortly after completing my internship, I began working for SDI in Chicago. I have now been employed by SDI for more than five years, where I promote Scotland’s energy sector throughout North America. My job allows me to maintain a close connection to Scotland, while working out of our Chicago office. Studying nationalism in Scotland provided me with a solid understanding of Scottish and British politics and culture, which continues to be invaluable on a daily basis.
My advice to those considering applying to the University of Edinburgh is to simply go for it. It’s a city you won’t forget, a university that won’t disappoint, and an experience you will cherish for the rest of your life.