My London Adventure Past Review

By (Merrimack College) - abroad from 01/08/2020 to 03/16/2020 with

CEA CAPA Education Abroad: London, England

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
As stressful as it was sometimes from having to balance classes, homework, the internship and its long commute, travel, and a social life, I definitely developed a thicker skin because of study abroad. I feel much more confident traveling and feel better prepared if I run into issues with getting lost again. My internship was probably the most valuable part, as it made for a really cool first internship and I gained so much tangible work experience. Through my solo treks and commutes, I learned how to be really comfortable and have fun with being by myself. As much as I loved the social aspect and being with friends, I very much appreciate how I learned to “hang out” with just myself sometimes.

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.

The material taught in my classes was not particularly difficult, and most of the classes I took were mostly paper/project-based over tests and exams, which I very much liked. All of my classes involved field trips or excursions, making for very immersive learning, which I loved! Papers and projects tend to be time-consuming, along with doing the internship program, so definitely be prepared to have your time management skills tested - it’s great experience though!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

CAPA was very on top of their communication during the application process, pre-arrival, and all while we were in London. While at the CAPA center, the staff was always very welcoming and supportive; I was given a “hello” pretty much whenever I walked in! When I had an issue with making up internship hours, a staff member took time to sit with me and figure out a solution. CAPA definitely cares about making your work & study experience as good as possible.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I liked my apartment and its location. It was an easy commute to CAPA and major parts of the city were easily accessible from my nearest tube station. However, I think CAPA could improve with offering support to people who are experiencing roommate troubles.

* Food:

I tried all sorts of English/UK cuisine while I was in London - Cornish pasties, Welsh cakes, and of course classic fish and chips. London is known to be a multicultural hub, so I also gained exposure to amazing international foods at places like Camden Market and Borough Market. My favorite dishes were paella and chicken masala!

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

One thing to know about CAPA is that they are a unique study abroad program because you are not living on a campus at a university - you are housed in apartments and taking classes at the CAPA center with other American students. If you are looking to be an international student at an actual university, CAPA may not be the best fit. However, I was able to feel really integrated into the local scene through CAPA’s spectacular internship program. Working with my British colleagues was my best form of exposure to life and culture in London. Being there 3 days a week for two months (originally supposed to be three, but COVID), my learnings definitely accumulated and I could go on and on about living and working in London!

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

At one point during the semester, I was experiencing consistent congestion and sinus issues so I decided to see a doctor. The CAPA apartments all have binders filled with information on health and safety, so I referred to the book and called the office closest to me. I made an appointment, found the building easily, and was able to pick up my medication at the Boots (UK pharmacy chain) near my apartment. The visit cost 130 pounds and I don’t recall paying much (or anything) for the prescription. Overall, it was pretty painless. However, I think CAPA could make improvements with making mental health care more accessible, as there seemed to be more options for physical health and not as much for mental health.

* Safety:

London is a fairly safe city. I felt fine walking at night once I became more and more acquainted with my surroundings. I still carried an alarm on my keys just to be safe. To take extra precaution, I highly recommend walking and traveling with at least one more person or in a group whenever possible. Pub and drinking culture is alive and well, so be careful of how much you are drinking - some alcoholic drinks tend to be stronger overseas than they are in the US! Also, something important to note - if you want to bring some sort of self-defense advice, do NOT bring pepper spray, as it is illegal in the UK. Your best bet is an alarm.

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

The CAPA Creative Arts Certificate Program was a great fit for me, and could be for anyone who is artistically inclined. As a Theatre Arts and Marketing double major, my classes fit my interests and I was able to combine both majors with my Arts Administration class and social media marketing internship with a youth theatre organization. If you are into writing, museums, theatre, art history, pop culture, or Shakespeare, definitely consider this program! The field trips and an arts-related internship are awesome tools to immerse you into the London arts scene.


* 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)

My apartment was right above a “mini mart” Tesco (UK grocery chain), so I was able to find a decent amount of groceries for very cheap. When I needed more specific things, I would go to Waitrose, which was more expensive. A trip to Waitrose cost me between 50 and 60 pounds, whereas I would only spend about 20-30 pounds at my local Tesco.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Depending where I went or how much I needed, I spent, on average, between 20 to 40 pounds per week on food, and more if I went out for lunch or dinner. Bulk grocery shopping and packaging is not common in the UK, so I would have to go every few days if I needed to restock.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Buy only what you NEED! You are going to need money for making memories of your time abroad, such as trips and souvenirs, and of course any potential emergencies. This is a difficult one, but try to limit eating out to once or twice a week. This will save you a lot of money (it adds up VERY quickly) and you can work on and expand your cooking horizons, as I tried to do! Freshman year of college, once I knew for certain when I wanted to study abroad, a fun challenge I gave myself was to set aside every $5 bill I came across. By the time departure rolled around, I had over $300 saved! I converted it to pounds at my home bank before leaving, and I used the cash in the first couple of weeks for food and personal care items.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Frequent communication and outreach
  • Academic & internship support
* What could be improved?
  • Mental health access
  • Internship requirements - I found myself sometimes overwhelmed with the required class that comes with doing the internship.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Not every day is going to be a picture-perfect Instagram moment. I felt really self-conscious when I wasn’t doing anything exciting every single day. That expectation is really unrealistic, don’t fall for it! Some days will be dedicated to work or resting, and that’s totally normal and should be happening sometimes anyways. It’s all about balance - definitely make time for adventure but also remember you’re there to work and study too.

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.