Edinburgh via Brazil: taking the long way round through Adjustment

Image of Edinburgh and Brazil
Amandine secured her place at the University of Edinburgh through UCAS Adjustment. She shares her unusual experience of getting into university, which included trekking through a Brazilian jungle…

I got into the University of Edinburgh through Adjustment and it was definitely the right path for me to take. When I applied to university, I got offers from two of my five choices – Bristol and Birmingham. Unfortunately, they had been my back-ups and I wasn’t particularly keen on either. I looked through the UCAS website to see if there was anything I could do to apply to other universities and I came across Adjustment.

What is UCAS Adjustment?

Adjustment is a service that opens on A level results day and lasts until 31 August. During that period you can send out applications to universities in the hope that they will have a place available on your course of choice that they are willing to offer you. There are two conditions however:

  • your results must be higher than what your firm choice is asking for
  • from the moment you start the process of Adjustment, you only have five days (weekends included) to secure an offer from the university (or universities) you’ve contacted.

My experience of Adjustment – monkeys and madness

I chose to apply to Edinburgh because I had previously visited it and loved it, though I hadn’t managed to include it among my final UCAS choices. Unfortunately at the time Adjustment opened, I was on a family holiday in Brazil with irregular internet and phone access – we could receive calls but we couldn’t make them. For that reason, I began my application process on the very first day of Adjustment, while I still had internet. I sent my final grades, along with my personal statement and a sample of my written work, then followed this up with a call to the uni to confirm it had received all my information.

Luckily, the next two days were spent at a friend’s house in San Paolo, where I had internet access and a phone. Unluckily, those two days were a Saturday and Sunday, and I hadn’t counted on the fact that Edinburgh uni staff don’t work on weekends. As a result, I had wasted two of my five days and for the next two I would be in the Pantanal wetlands with practically no way of getting in touch with anyone.

Amandine’s odyssey

Once in the Pantanal we stayed in a lodge that advertised that it had a phone and internet access. As it transpired though, due to the lodge owner’s phone plan, calls could only connect as far as Rio de Janeiro. So, my mother and I woke at 6.00 am on the last day of Adjustment (as Brazil is three hours behind UK time, the time I had to contact the Edinburgh staff was shorter than what others had), and still in our pyjamas, we found the man who owned the lodge and explained my situation and my need for a computer.

The owner left us waiting then returned ten minutes later with two lifejackets, which he told us to put on over our pyjamas and to get into one of the dinghy boats used for exploring the wetlands. We proceeded to cruise through the jungle for 45 minutes – we even stopped to see some monkeys and parrots along the way. Eventually we arrived at a collection of huts, which turned out to be a marine biology centre, the only place for miles with internet access, and where the lodge owner had booked me an hour of computer time.

Hello, ground control?

It was in pyjamas and a life jacket that I logged onto my email – and found that I had no reply from Edinburgh! I immediately emailed the admissions tutor and the admissions support team that I had initially sent my documents to, to inform them that I had travelled through the jungle for an hour to reach a computer and would like to hear back from them as soon as possible. I then gave my cousin (who was studying at Edinburgh at the time) my UCAS and email passwords and instructed him to get me a reply. I then got back into the boat and travelled back through the swamp to finally change out of my muddy pyjamas. Two hours later, I received a phone call from my cousin telling me I'd gotten an offer from Edinburgh and that he had accepted it on my behalf. And so began my time as a university student.

Advice on using UCAS Adjustment

My advice to students would be to look into all available possibilities to get into the university you want – there may be paths you didn’t consider or know about. I would also advise being persistent and unafraid to chase up the uni staff; they may not realise the time constraints you’re under or the specific circumstances you’re in. There were many times during my Adjustment experience when I wanted to give up but I’m so thankful that I didn’t because I went on to spend the most amazing four years at the University of Edinburgh and all because I’d trekked through a jungle to get my application in.

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