Go to London Past Review

By (English Language and Literature; Business, Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/02/2018 to 06/02/2018 with

IFSA: London - King's College London

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I gained independence, travel experience, had the best work/life balance of my life ... there's so much to say. It was definitely worthwhile.

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.

I had wanted to directly enroll in a university so that I could study alongside full degree-seeking students and feel as though I was part of the university. I was grateful to have had that opportunity at King's College. Positive aspects of my academic experience include engaging and committed professors (3 out of 4 were excellent), a variety of courses to choose in the areas I wanted to study, and courses (particularly English Literature courses) that focused on subjects I would not have had access to at my home university. Negative aspects of my academic experience were the country-wide strike that happened to take place while I was there. I sympathized with the professors who were striking to protect their pension, and only two of my classes were affected, so I was luckier than many in the UK. I found that attendance was not taken and participation wasn't graded. Therefore, preparing for class by reading was not taken seriously by all students. This surprised me, but didn't necessarily negatively impact my experience. I found my courses to be significantly less work than those I take in the US - besides reading, homework is usually not given. Overall, I enjoyed the opportunity to study in an education system that was different from my own!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I did not have the need to interact with King's College administration at all. Their office for students studying abroad at King's did a good job of introducing themselves as a resource at the beginning of the semester. King's orientation for study abroad students was overall well done, too. In particular, I enjoyed the social events! I believe the administration underestimated the academic abilities and experiences of those of us studying abroad at King's, but I'll forgive them for that. :) Fortunately, I did not have any issues that I needed to address with the administration and did not directly interact with administrators after orientation.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Positives: I was happy to be in university-owned housing. I lived in an apartment with 6 other students, all of whom happened to be study abroad students as well. I'm not sure that that's always the case - I think other study abroad students were mixed with full degree-seeking students. I lived at the Great Dover Street Apartments, which meant I could walk to Strand Campus in 40 minutes or Waterloo Campus in 25-30 minutes and did not need to take transportation (I could have, but it wouldn't have saved any time). I felt safe and secure at Great Dover Street and liked its location. I got along well with my flat mates. Negatives: the WiFi was mediocre, the laundry was expensive, and housing overall was more expensive than I was used to.

* Food:

King's is great because there's no meal plan option; I spent about the same amount of money buying groceries for myself as I would have purchasing a meal plan at home. I cooked my own dinner most nights and provided breakfast for myself. When I didn't have time or didn't feel like making lunch, I could get something reasonably priced from Pret or someplace similar. Grocery stores are everywhere and reasonably priced (though keep in mind that London is expensive and the pound is not favorable to the dollar). If you want to go out, London has great food and dining experiences all over the city.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I spent a lot of time with study abroad students, who were mostly American. I found it difficult to make friends with the full degree-seeking students at King's, as I was only around them during class. I could have joined a club (or society, as they call it), but there was no activities fair in January, and it was intimidating to join a group I had read a description of online. I also wanted to use my semester abroad to take a break from commitments to clubs and relax and travel instead. Most of my social integration came from interacting with British students at the college bar down the street, and that was really positive. I spent a lot of time exploring London's cafes, museums, and sites, and I felt that I became culturally and socially integrated in that way, too.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had no experience with UK healthcare - I wish there was a not applicable option for the star rating here. The one time I thought I might need to see a doctor, I reached out to IFSA-Butler, and the program staff in London were incredibly helpful and responsive.

* Safety:

I felt super safe in London. There is a fair amount of crime in the city, but as far as I know, violent crime mostly occurs in certain neighborhoods that you can choose to avoid. My adventures occurred mostly in and around central London, where I felt safe walking by myself during the day and with friends at night. While London has been the target of terrorist attacks, I did not let myself worry too much, and I feel that the city is highly alert and prepared. Thankfully, nothing occurred while I was there. The night tube and buses were helpful for getting around at night. They're not always convenient, so my friends and I would sometimes take Ubers instead. No matter how we got from place to place, I felt safe. In general, I would advise anyone to pay attention to their surroundings and plan how they'll be getting home if they go out at night.

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

I loved London. I liked IFSA-Butler and King's. After evaluating what I wanted and doing the research, this is exactly what I wanted my study abroad experience to be.


* 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)

Buying my own groceries was helpful. It's an expensive city, in general, but if you buy your own groceries, eat out infrequently, and go out to student bars or go to clubs on student nights, you can get good deals!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • 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? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • Independence
  • Ability to choose
  • Location
* What could be improved?
  • More advice from IFSA ahead of time regarding credit cards, phones, etc. I like to plan.
  • King's could be more aware of the experiences study abroad students are bringing with them.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Everything will be all right, it's not as scary as you think.

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.