Year Long CS program at Kin'g College London Past Review

By (Computer Science, Brandeis University) - abroad from 09/13/2016 to 05/27/2017 with

Arcadia: London - King's College London

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to survive in London on my own and adjust to the cultural and language differences. I also learned how to study within a UK university and how to take assessments at the graduate level. I also learned a lot about other cultures from traveling to other cities and countries during my breaks, many of which I would never have gotten the chance to go to if I had not studied abroad.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Classes, at least those in computer science are very rigorous, and American students must be aware that grading in the UK is much stricter than it is in the US. Typically final grades are determined entirely by the final exam, so there is a much greater emphasis on preparation and study, as opposed to coursework. Professors do offer office hours and it is fairly easy to get help, in person or electronically, for any course problems.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Arcadia did a good job at "onboarding" all of the students into the program with a short orientation at the beginning of the year. Apart from some emails about transcripts, credit transfer, etc, I had little contact with Arcadia throughout the duration of my stay and often found that King's college were able to resolve my issues.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing was a bit of a miss for me. While the building I stayed in, Great Dover Street, is close a Tube station on the Northern line making it easy to get to class, there were not many redeeming qualities about the housing itself. The rooms, which are singles inside of a "suite" are very, very small, and include an extremely tiny personal bathroom. The "suite" is nothing more than a glorified hallway and kitchen that you share with other students. There is no common space or area to congregate. The building is also very old, and my room required frequent visits from maintenance. Fire alarms going off in the middle of the night are also a semi common occurrence.

* Food:

The food was great, there is no meal plan, so you are free to eat what you want at the infinite number of restaurants in London. The Strand campus is close to Covent Garden and Soho, which has a lot of great places to eat, and my dorm was close to the Bank area, which has some more upscale options that are very good as well.The dorm is also close to Borough Market, a great place to go and try unique foods from all over the world.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The social integration was not very good. Since KCL does not have a true campus, there was little time for socialization, which was unfortunate. It was difficult to meet people at the dorm, since you were not placed with a mixture of transfer and home students. Rather, I was placed with first year students, making it hard to relate to my experience. I'd recommend going on this program with a few classmates from your home institution, which may make it easier to get to know people.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Luckily I never needed to the emergency room. However, there was a hospital very close to my dorm which was reassuring. There were no specific illnesses I was aware of or vaccines I needed.

* Safety:

London is relatively safe, and walking around at night or taking the Tube at night was not an issue. The majority of the neighborhoods are very open and safe. However, there were a few radical islamic terrorist events in London and surrounding cities during and immediately after my time abroad, so it definitely was not as safe as I would have liked. There were often police patrolling public squares and crowded areas, but it is important to note that not all of the officers carry firearms.

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

If I were to do it again, I would probably pick a different program. I'd make sure to pick one that focuses a bit more on assisting with social integration and is at a university with a more enclosed campus, since that is what I prefer. I still had a wonderful time, but I feel that there might have been programs better suited for what I wanted.


* 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)

Food and transportation is expensive, even more so considering the exchange rate between USD and GBP. It is possible however to stay within budget once you become aware of the cheaper eateries and stores.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $250-300
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? If you want to save on lunch or breakfast, be sure to go to Pret, many of their offerings are quite cheap and are fairly tasty.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Academics
  • Urban Exploring
  • Traveling
* What could be improved?
  • Social Integration
  • Housing
  • Guide for selecting courses
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I had known how important the final exam is with respect to the UK education system. In nearly all of my classes, the final accounted for 100% of my grade, and asked questions in a different format from the US, so I wish there was a more comprehensive education translation guide available.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!