Frequently Asked Questions
- Is financial aid available?
YES! UMASS students are automatically provided with a $600. aid package as part of an agreement with the university and are eligible for $1,000. by application to Commonwealth College (UMASS honors students only.) You may be eligible for summer financial aid if you take the course for 6 credits. Check with the financial aid office. Non-UMASS students are encouraged to seek support from their home institutions.
- When does the course actually begin, and end?
Course materials and assignments will be online and available for you to begin by June 30. These assignments must be completed before leaving the U.S. You will need to arrive in Edinburgh on August 9th (before 2 PM) and depart before 10am on August 23rd. (Most flights to the UK are overnight, which means you will depart the U.S. on August 8). The final assignment is due by the end of August.
- Who can apply?
ANYONE currently registered and in good standing at an accredited college or university may apply, including first-year students and graduating seniors. Credits generally transfer through International Programs agreements with other colleges. (Community members and post-graduates interested in sharing this experience with students are also welcome to apply.)
- How do I apply?
You must apply on the UMASS International Programs website. There you will begin an account and fill in the application under "Questionnaires." Once accepted, you can proceed to provide the additional documents asked for on the website, and you will need to turn in your $500.00 non-refundable deposit to secure your spot in the course. The application asks for a statement of purpose and your educational background. Deposit checks should be made out to The University of Massachusetts, and mailed directly to Jean Karpinski, International Programs, 455 Hills South, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 01003.
- What is the cost of the course, and what does it cover?
The $3,550. cost ($2,950. for UMASS students) covers tuition and fees, lodging for two weeks, 12 theatre tickets, a city walking tour and the Scottish Highland tour, medical and emergency insurance, and two group dinners. The $500. deposit allows us to pre-book our accommodations, which is necessary during the high festival season. You are responsible for airfare (last year around $1100), your own meals (you can cook in your kitchen and grocery foods are similar in cost to the US), and your additional show tickets. You will also buy a UK sim card for about $25.00 which includes enough minutes for your entire stay. The meals and incidental costs vary widely depending on your frugality and social life in Edinburgh--from $350 to $700 on average.
- Are there deadlines?
Yes. Our priority deadline is DECEMBER 15, 2016. After this point, there will be a rolling admission until the course is full. Deposits are due within two weeks of acceptance. (You may ask for additional time, if necessary.) If the application portal at the UMASS International Program Office is closed, then the course is full. Please feel free to email the director to see if there is a wait list.
- Why is the airfare an additional cost? What about a group flight?
We ask students to purchase their own airline tickets in order to 1) keep the program cost down and 2) to accommodate students who may be in Europe before or after the program, or who are departing from their home town outside Boston. Group flights are convenient, but NOT cheaper. The current airfare between Boston and Edinburgh is approximately $1100. No matter what flight you arrive on, you will be met at the airport by the program staff.
- Where will we stay?
For 2017, students will be assigned to one of three spacious apartments on Torphichen Street, in central Edinburgh. The apartments are next door to each other, with bedrooms that sleep between 2-5 students. The apartments are within walking distance of all Edinburgh venues. The apartments have linens, towels, a kitchen, television, washing machine, ironing board, and wifi.
- What happens to my deposit if I get sick or my plans change at the last minute?
The $500 deposit is non-refundable, except in cases where students are physically incapable of participating for a medical reason. After May 10, the deposit cannot be refunded for any reason.
- What else is there to do in Edinburgh?
Edinburgh is a beautiful, vibrant city, brimming with history and places to visit, including art museums, pubs, Edinburgh University, Arthur's Seat, two castles, the Royal Botanical Gardens, and the Scottish Parliament Building. The Firth of Forth seaside is a short bus ride away. Hours can be spent just watching the free festival action on High Street or at the Free Festival venue in New Town. Many of the museums in the city are free.
- How many plays will we see, and how much will they cost?
Our itinerary each year varies, and we will not know what plays we will be seeing until the Fringe Program comes out in June. We plan to see 12-15 shows as a group. But students routinely attend an additional 15-25 shows during each festival. (Plays are short--usually only one hour). Only a few tickets will cost more than the $8.00 to $12.00 student price, and there are half-price booths as well as Free Fringe shows. It is possible to see 4-6 shows a day with good planning. But we encourage a more thoughtful, less exhausting, approach to the Fringe.
- How will I get around?
WALK!! Everything is within walking distance from your apartment. Local taxis are everywhere, and you might want to share one if you're late for a show. Taxis cost $15.00-20.00 to most places in the city. You can also buy an all day bus ticket for about $10.00.
- Who are the Professors?
The 2017 program will be directed by Professor Daniel Sack, a critic and scholar of contemporary international performance. Other faculty include: Professor Jenny Spencer, who founded the program and whose area of expertise is modern and contemporary political theatre; Professor Harley Erdman, a translator and scholar of Spanish theatre; Professor Talya Kingston, a dramaturg, critic, and literary manager; and Professor Dominika Laster, a performance maker and researcher who works on Polish theatre and immigration.
- What if I get sick or need medical attention in Edinburgh?
For minor illnesses, students can go to the clinic at Boots pharmacy, which operates for limited hours every day. The Royal Infirmary Hospital treats patients in their emergency room, and our University insurances will cover medical expenses there. The insurance also pays for emergency medical evacuation in the unlikely event that you should need it. Edinburgh is also well known for its holistic and herbal approach to medicine--and walk-in appointments (and herbal prescriptions) are available for about $40.00. Bring medicine you know you will need.
- Can graduate students and post-grads apply?
Graduate students are welcome to take the course for graduate credit through a UMASS independent study with the instructor, or with a faculty sponsor from their own institution. The costs are the same as for undergraduates.
- What is the After-Festival?
In the past, the program has brought to campus a production that students saw during a previous trip to Edinburgh. Our first year, we brought Tim Crouch and Hannah Ringham to campus for performances of Tim's award-winning "England" and "An Oak Tree." In Fall 2011, we brought Cynthia Hopkins, the author of "Accidental Nostalgia" which premiered in Edinburgh, to campus for her most recent solo show "Truth: A Tragedy." In the spring, we brought Peggy Shaw, whose performance of "Must: The Inside Story" was written in collaboration with the UK Clod Ensemble and also appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe. In January 2012, we hosted Matthew Zajac, for performances of his internationally acclaimed "The Tailor of Inverness." Students participating in the program help choose performers for subsequent After-festival artistic residencies at UMASS.