University College London - Studying Science at a Prestigious University in the European Metropolis Past Review

By (Biology and Historu, Grinnell College) for

Arcadia: London - University College London

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Ultimately, it was an amazing experience to be in London. I was able to take my academics seriously while still exploring one of the most dynamic and historical cities in the Western world. Moreover, London is truly an international nexus, and I enjoyed my other travels around the UK and Europe immensely.

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.

UCL is a prestigious university, both in the UK and globally; as such, their are more stringent academic standards than at many abroad programs. However, work in the UK is much more independent and self-paced: at the end of the term, exams hold the student accountable for learning he/she did or did not do, as these provide the majority of the graded assessment. You are not only encouraged, but expected to explore additional resources and outside research that goes beyond materials explicitly assigned for the course.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Arcadia staff were friendly and supportive, but frequently disorganized. UCL was fantastic and supportive.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

* Food:

Food in London is a lot better than people make it out to be -- legitimately, there is access to just about every kind of international cuisine you could name, and many that you likely couldn't. British food isn't bad either. The issue in London is price -- everything is quite pricey, and Tesco sandwiches are a frequent meal.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

It's London. Whatever you want from Western arts and high culture, it is there. Also, definitely go on the York trip -- York is great, but as a side-stop you go to Whitby, which has to be the most beautiful seaside city/town I've ever seen.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

There is very little violent crime in London, due to the omnipresent CCTV. Moreover, while I do know of some students who were mugged, I never encountered a situation that felt dangerous in the least bit, despite frequently being out alone at night pretty much every district of the city.

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)

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • UCL
  • London Nightlife
  • British People
* What could be improved?
  • Arcadia Staff - frequently unorganized
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? While this program would accomdate many different kinds of students, and certainly did, I wanted to highlight how excellent this program is for scientists -- I had unrestricted access to their curriculum, meaning I could take any courses I needed or found interesting, including those with lab components. This is rare for study abroad programs.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Computational and Systems Biology

Course Department: BIOCG 3010
Instructor: Dr. Christine Orengo and Dr. Andrew Martin, many other lecturers besides.
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Excellent course, a great crash-course in bioinformatics. However, there is very little actual computer programming associated.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Advanced Human Genetics 2: Complex Disorders

Course Department: BIOLG 3011
Instructor: Dr. A Ruiz, many other lecturers
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Challenging, but rewarding and fairly content-packed. As in most of the courses I took at UCL, the labs were pretty miniscule.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Molecular Genetics of Disease and Carcinogenesis

Course Department: BIOC 3010
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This class was pretty sub-par. There is no attached lab, and an excess of clinical information. Topics were otherwise repetitive.
Credit Transfer Issues: