Semester In London: DO IT. Past Review

By (History, Sarah Lawrence College) for

Arcadia: London - University College London

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
YES. Study abroad is the single best thing I've done in college, and London was the most amazing semester of my life. It changed me in more ways than I can count.

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 English system differs from the American one in ways too deep and numerous to go into here, but suffice it to say it was a very interesting change, and I think it had a positive impact on my work when I got back to the states, and my appreciation of that work. The workload was tough, but I knew in advance that UCL was the most challenging of the London Arcadia programs. Sometimes I wished that I had gone to a different school where I could have spent more time traveling and messing around and less time writing essays, but in the end I'm happy that I had a semester of academic rigor.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Great! Arcadia gave us a really strong support system for the first week, then set us free to be independent, which I really appreciated. When I did need to get into contact with them, they were prompt and easy to reach.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

We spent a few days in a homestay in Worcester, and I loved it! I really liked having another student with me in the house, because I am really awkward. But the family was so nice, and it was really fun to get to spend some time in a more rural English setting. Also, they fed us and took us on a day trip and were overall just wonderful people. I really liked my apartment in the city, too. It was university housing, and I was with a girl from the program, and American postgrad, a German boy, and two Chinese boys. I liked not being with all Americans, and the amenities were really quite nice. Arcadia arranged for bedding to be supplied, but we had to acquire our own kitchen utensils.

* Food:

We were self-catered, which I was not very good at. Fish and chips are great, though! Also: Cafe Nero. Go there.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Fantastic! I joined the Musical Theatre Society at UCL, which was such a good choice and how I met all of my English friends. I saw tons of theatre, and made a point of going out and seeing things I wanted to see even if I had to do so alone. I wasn't going to miss out on things just because no one wanted to come and I felt like a loser being by myself... and it was the best choice I could have made. I had so much fun just walking around and chilling out, both with friends and without.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I never had need to address any health issues, thank goodness. I felt very safe in London, and walked home by myself all the time, which probably wasn't such a good idea. I never had any issues, though.

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

  • Host Family
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
  • International Students

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Independence! I loved the support at the beginning, but that we weren't babied throughout.
* What could be improved?
  • I don't really remember. I'm sure I had something at the time.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you want a real English experience, you need to go to a real English university. There are so many programs that are just American schools that happen to be in foreign cities (Sarah Lawrence has one...), and having gone on one for my spring semester, there is definitely fun to be had in that context. But if you actually want to get to know a city and experience a culture, exchange with a local university is the only way to do it. It's amazing, and terrifying, and so much fun. I recommend it to any student who wants study abroad to actually be a cultural experience, rather than just an American safety bubble in a fun locale.