London Internship Program Past Review

By (archaeology, Rice University) for

AIFS: London - Richmond International Internship Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The cultural aspect was amazing, I just wish I had picked a program that was actually on my side.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The class we had to take for this program was generally a sociology class about Britain, and history that caused things to be like they are (for example, "The Troubles" leading up to Bloody Sunday. Our professor, Justin Lorentzen, was absolutely wonderful, and though I generally don't care for sociology, he made the class very interesting. It was mostly discussion and things like mock-debates with a couple history lectures, and after discussing British music, we went to the O2's British Music Experience. The workload wasn't bad--one reading a week, a 4-page paper comparing tabloid and broadsheet newspaper articles, a midterm about British politics, and a final paper about a topic (on British culture) of our choice. Although I enjoyed the class and learned a lot about modern British culture from it, I rated by educational experience very low because of the internship. I can say that it helped me decide what I wanted to go to grad school for, because I requested to visit and volunteer at different departments in the National Archives, but I didn't really learn anything. Everything that I did was already in my skill set, or a little below, such as my main job at the National Archives: entering soldiers' data into an Excel spreadsheet. It was a nice place to intern, and I was able to explore other departments, but I definitely didn't learn anything new.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Weaknesses were too many to list at the moment. I will be typing up a review of the program and sending it to my study abroad advisor, recommending not letting anyone do this program again.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Atlantic House, Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London. <br /><br /> On one hand, Kensington is a good place to be, on the other... It was a dorm--not as nice as I'm used to, but during the year, I live in one of the newer colleges on campus, so I expected it. There are sinks in the rooms, but we have to go down a flight of stairs to get to showers and toilets, which can be annoying if you forget your security card and get locked out of your floor. We interns were placed on the top floor, even though we had the most suitcases of any group in the dorm, and were staying here the longest. We were also the only ones that had to go past the security door to get to our bathroom--everyone else had bathrooms on their floor. There was also a week where we had only hot water, making it painful to wash our faces in the morning; I was shocked it took so long to fix. We also had construction waking us up by 8 AM every weekday and some Saturdays for most of the summer. After the last session of summer students left, they stopped feeding us in the cafeteria, which I could understand. What I didn't like is that we had no access to any kitchen facilities, except for a 3x4x4 ft fridge and a microwave for 24 people to share. Instead of feeding us, they gave us vouchers, which only worked in a handful of places, most of them grocery stores--and how could we cook anything? When a mirror fell on our floor and shattered, we were told by the office that we'd have to wait til our Monday cleaning day to have it vacuumed--it was a Thursday. For the ~200 people living in the dorm, there were 3 washers and 3 dryers, which didn't function well and broke repeatedly. It didn't help that students from 10 years ago and staff (kitchen and cleaning) were using them. When we tried to talk with the office about it, they didn't see a problem.

* Food:

It was edible. Breakfast was a variety of breads/pastries and eggs. I had to get my breakfast from the grocery store since I couldn't really stomach those things in the morning. Dinner was potatoes cooked different ways and mystery food. Lunch was not included. No juice, no tea, just sodas, milk, water, or coffee.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The main office arranged trips all over England for us, as well as arranged tickets for musicals, comedy shows, sports, etc. In addition, we were easily able to travel through Europe on the weekends.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

If we were sick, they helped us call doctors to arrange appointments, people were usually able to get an appointment within a day or two, and we were also put on their insurance so we didn't have to pay full price. Part of the main orientation was a safety talk, which was good. Where we were staying, Kensington/West London is a good area, a more affluent area, so it's not like we were in the middle of a gang area. I've also taken a couple women's self defense courses, so I felt able to defend myself if something did happen.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Maybe up to 100 pounds a week for food. Lunch wasn't included in price, but my work has a staff canteen for half-price. I got a 3-month oyster card (public transport), so that was only a total of 300 pounds for transport for my entire stay. Depending on how much we went out, maybe 25-100 pounds for entertainment/souvenirs per week.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? You'll probably end up using cash a lot, because you'll split the bill when you go out to eat.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? None

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? DO NOT APPLY FOR THIS PROGRAM!