Aspiring writer Ashley Stern graduated from Edinburgh Napier with an MA in creative writing in 2015. She is now working towards her MFA in popular fiction at Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania.

We catch-up with her as she looks back on her time in Edinburgh and explains how it helped get her studying in the States.

Studying overseas can open many a door for a student. It allows you to see parts of the world you may have never seen otherwise. You can find new interests, make lifelong friends and learn new cultures.

When Ashley Stern travelled to Edinburgh in mid-2014, little did she know the impact her time in the city would have on her and her higher education trajectory.

Ashley had left home in Grafton, Wisconsin to commence an MA in Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier, with the aspiring writer focused on getting the most out of her year abroad.

She had read about the University through Across the Pond – a service in the States that helps individuals achieve their ambitions of studying in Britain. However, it wasn’t until she undertook the interview process for the course that she realised that Edinburgh Napier was definitely the one for her.

Ashley said: “I found Edinburgh Napier through Across the Pond. The interview process is what convinced me that the programme was the right one. I was challenged and was given a real look at differences this programme had that made it so unique and such a perfect fit for me. All the aspects I discovered that I loved I couldn’t find in other creative writing programmes. I was drawn to the elective options, the career focus, and the utilisation of literary theory throughout the course.”

Did you enjoy your time at Edinburgh Napier?

Ashley added: “I loved creative non-fiction, just because it was a genre I’d never really written in before and I found that I really enjoyed it. The two modules that I enjoyed most and were most beneficial to me as a student and writer were Writer’s Toolkit and Innovation and Authorship. Both of these pushed me to think about story in a new and more purposeful way. I am not only a better reader and writer because of this module, but I am working on revising what I started in these classes as my thesis project at Seton Hill University. This is the project I hope to submit to agents in the coming year.”

After finishing her year at Edinburgh Napier, Ashley benefitted from a unique agreement the University has with Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania that allows an MA graduate to enter the second year of its MFA in popular fiction, giving them the chance to continue their writing education alongside finishing the final project novel they started in Scotland.

It was a path that Ashley didn’t realise she could take prior to studying in Scotland.

She said: “I hadn’t even considered matriculating to Seton Hill before I headed to Edinburgh Napier. I’m so glad I did though and I would recommend others to follow this route.

“My final project is a young adult fantasy novel. The premise is basically an upside-down Narnia. My protagonist, Nikita, was once able to go between worlds but has since been trapped. My project is the story of her finding a home and herself when there is no going back.

“I started this in Scotland and right now I’m focusing on rewriting and revising for Seton Hill. I want to be able to start submitting to agents by graduation in June.

“Edinburgh will always be close to me. It was a fantastic place and I have wanted to go back since I left! It was an amazing city to live and study in for my year and I cannot wait to visit again someday soon.”

Student Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier