A Program for the Self-Motivated Past Review

By (Political Science, English, Providence College) - abroad from 10/01/2012 to 06/04/2013 with

Arcadia: London - London School of Economics

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned the limits to which I could push myself when it came to handling my coursework. I learned to be confident in a room full of people that I may have never met before. On a personal level, I learned to be independent, resourceful, and financially responsible.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 2 weeks - 1 month

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

To all students considering a year at the London School of Economics, be aware of the academic commitment you are making. This program is not the typical study abroad experience, but one that requires many hours of dedication to keeping up with your coursework. Notably, there is much less hand-holding than at American universities. Rather than buying a chosen set of books for each course (as is customary at my home university), I frequently found myself at the library, vying with the other students in my class to find a copy of some book we all needed (that is, if it wasn't available electronically). Apart from writing two papers per term for each of my four courses, I was largely graded on my performance on four exams at the end of the year. It is daunting, but putting in the time will prepare you. Those who are not strong test-takers may want to consider another program. NB: I was taking qualitative, reading-based courses, and this review may not apply to quantitative students.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Apart from the orientation run by Arcadia for its students in various programs in the UK, I had little interaction with its London office. Throughout the year, it offers trip packages to its students, but it is ultimately up to the student to decide to what extent he/she wants to interact with Arcadia. More often than not, I worked directly with LSE.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I was fortunate to be placed in Rosebery Hall, arguably one of the most sociable at LSE. The friendliness of the students in the building was one of my greatest takeaways. Most students live in single-bed rooms, but there are a number of double-bed rooms. Rooms are basic: bed, desk, closet, sink, and a nightstand. In terms of amenities, my residence hall had a TV room, a small computer lab, a laundry room, and recreation room (table tennis, pool, foosball, and a bar that was closed for the year).

* Food:

Don't expect the lavish dining experience of the American university. There are no unlimited meal plans, so be prepared to learn how to cook (if you don't know how to already). In my residence hall, dinners were served Monday through Friday night; during the holiday periods, breakfast is served every morning. Apart from these meals, it is the student's responsibility to figure out the rest.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The students that I met and became friends with are some of the brightest (and soon-to-be most successful) people I have ever met. I had no shortage of intellectually stimulating conversations at LSE. Of course, at a school like LSE, there is a very big work-hard/play-hard mentality. When I finally put down the books at the end of the day, London became my (expensive) playground. The clubs and bars are some of the best in the world, and the cultural experiences - concerts, flea markets, free admission to museums, etc. - were all there. And, of course, Europe is only a stone's throw away.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* 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)

This question is hard to answer objectively, as students come from a wide variety of financial backgrounds. Personally, I found it difficult. London is expensive, as is traveling to and from the European continent. I recommend creating an Excel spreadsheet and using it to keep track of one's finances.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Take advantage of the free admission to museums, walk everywhere, and become involved with LSE's clubs and organizations. These will subsidize the cost of doing things for students who are members.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Hostel
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

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

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 10+

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • London's nightlife
  • LSE's brilliant student body
  • Interesting coursework
* What could be improved?
  • Academic preparation
  • Course selection guidance
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I was shocked by the demands placed on me by my courses. A few of the courses I had initially chosen (before I switched to other ones) expected me to have knowledge that I simply hadn't picked up yet. Some more guidance on course selection would have been very helpful. While I eventually adjusted, more could have been done to ease the transition from the American to the English system of education.

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!