Wednesday, September 11, 2013

England: London

 Taylor Herbert '14

The famous Tower Bridge, right next to the Tower of London!
What is your major?
I am majoring in Psychology.

Why did you decide to study abroad?
Before I went abroad, I had never traveled out of the country. I really wanted to be more well-traveled than I was, and studying abroad gave me the perfect opportunity to not only travel out of the country, but completely immerse myself in another culture.

Why did you choose London, United Kingdom?
I have always wanted to go to the UK, ever since I first started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone back in the fourth grade. I chose London because I really love the culture of England, and London in particular, and was really interested in doing a General Culture program instead of a Language-Intensive program. Also, London was supposed to (and does!) have incredible food, despite its reputation!

 What was your living situation like?
The entire London group in front of Buckingham Palace
 right at the start of the program!
FIE, the organization that we studied with, split our group of 25 LC kids into two flats on the same street. We lived in singles, doubles, triples, and quads in an apartment-style space, with essentially the British equivalent of an RA living with us as well. We had our own kitchen and living room, with tons of space to chill, study, and catch up on all our adventures! We had laundry in the basement of the flat, and our classrooms were only about a five minute walk from the flat. I think that the flats were a perfect living situation for London, because it gave us the ability to be very independent and explore the city for ourselves, while still having the familiarity of each other to come back to. The only thing about the flats that was difficult is that everything in London – and Europe for that matter – is smaller! It took some getting used to, but by the middle of the semester, 15 Manson Place felt like home!

Highlights/challenges of the program.
When I left the States, I expected to be more homesick than I actually was – one of the greatest things that the program did was give us a nice orientation to London and the area in Kensington and Chelsea where we lived, which made it feel a little bit more like home. One of the biggest challenges for me was having the courage to go out into the big city by myself and explore. At first, I would go with friends to the local pub, or to a museum, but there was a point when I realized that in order to really experience everything I wanted to, I would have to venture out on my lonesome. Over time, it got easier to travel around by myself and I soon got more comfortable on the Tube and buses. By the end of the semester, I was able to go to Italy and Greece by myself!
Big Ben, taken from Parliament Square.
One of the real highlights of the program was my internship. I worked with Newham Education Business Partnership, which helps the students in London learn employment skills and gain actual work experience. While I was at first hesitant because it had little to do with my major, I soon fell in love with working there, partly because of the great work I was involved in, and partly because my colleagues made working there a real delight! More than anything, it made me reconsider my real interests moving forward onto graduate school – had it not been for that internship, I don't think I would have as clear of an outlook on life as I do now!

Advice you wish you had been given before going on your program.
How British classes operate. Even though the classes we had were just LC kids, the professors still taught in the same style that they teach their British university classes, and there are some major differences. Mainly, all of the work tends to come at the end of the semester, which can be overwhelming when you have two papers to write, three books to read, a film reflection to finish, and a city to explore!

For Spring Break, some friends and I went to Ireland, where we experienced 
the absolutely fantastic Cliffs of Moher.

Additional comments?
Going to London was absolutely amazing and the best experience of my life, and anyone that is interested in going to London definitely should! It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience in what I think is the greatest place in the world!
Places to go: Soho, St. Paul's Cathedral, Borough Market, Brighton, and Bath, just to name a few!

If you have questions about the England: London program, you can find program alums on the Ask An Alum Moodle page by clicking this link.