How I learned to identify with the "Very British Problems" Twitter and loved it! Past Review

By (Theatre Arts, Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/01/2013 to 06/08/2013 with

IFSA: London - Queen Mary, University of London

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned how to adapt to new cultures, I learned how to accept different systems of education and growing up and how to work with them, I learned how I fit into the world as a American world citizen, and I learned how to make and keep friendships that I like to think will last even across an ocean!

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 modules themselves are fairly easy during the semester itself compared to American courses... but the final papers/exams are much more intense than American finals!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The study abroad adviser at Queen Mary was nice enough, and considering the amount of work he had to do, he was clearly doing the best he could. However, with the number of abroad students who come to Queen Mary, the department clearly needed to be expanded, and that led to several slip ups on the department's part that should have been avoided.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Living on campus made getting to classes and getting to experience London college life - particularly college life at Queen Mary - so much easier. It also allowed me to meet so many people of so many different disciplines, and I absolutely loved my flatmates!

* Food:

There was no meal plan option, meaning that I cooked for myself, and I don't think reviewing my own cooking here is of any use to anyone.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There were so many opportunities to meet people and really get to experience London. I felt like I had become a real UK uni student while I was there.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have any health issues while abroad.

* Safety:

London is generally a pretty safe city. As it is a large city, you need to have your wits about you and not be stupid while going out, but so long as you pay attention to what you're doing and where your things are, there shouldn't be any problems. Even while living in the East End, I never felt like I was in any kind of danger.

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)

I was lucky in that my parents helped to support me for food and personal expenses. That being said, I still lived generally on a student's budget, which was a touch difficult in London since it's such an expensive city to live in. However, if you can put your pride away and deal with living pretty much entirely on Sainsbury's Basics products, you can definitely get by on a student's budget. You won't have a ton of money left over for other things if you don't have money saved up from before, but you can live on it.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? ~$75.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Sainsbury's Basics is your best friend, and I promise that the quality is better than you'd think. Also, ask for student discounts everywhere, and don't eat out too much. Finally, movies are very expensive, so don't go to see them unless you can get a student discount.


* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* 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?
  • How much it lets you integrate into life in London.
  • How the extra experiences it will give you only compliment your abroad experience, never dominate it.
  • How much everyone was willing to accept me and become friends with me, even though we knew we only had a limited amount of time together.
* What could be improved?
  • Administrative support for associate students at Queen Mary.
  • How we are prepared for final papers/exams.
  • More group trips to see things outside the city.
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Just how expensive London is. I wasted more money than I am proud of on things like souvenirs at the beginning, and it meant that there were a few sights (London Eye, Harry Potter Studios) I simply couldn't afford to see at the end.

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.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Japanese Film: History, Culture, and Fantasy

Course Department: History
Instructor: Matt Jacobsen
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Matt Jacobsen was my favorite teacher in England. He's so enthusiastic about Japanese history and film that I sometimes wouldn't even see how much I was learning in his class until I realized that I could fully participate in one on one discussions with him about the subject and be able to hold my own. Both lectures and seminars were legitimately fun to go to. I only wish I had been able to practice writing for this class more before the final paper and exam came at almost the same time at the end of the semester.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Reformation to Revolution: Europe and the World, 1500-1800

Course Department: History
Instructor: Mark Curran
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This module had a different lecturer every week, which meant that it wasn't the smoothest course I've ever taken. There's a certain point where several of the lecturers, while clearly passionate about what they teach and very knowledgeable about their area of expertise, simply weren't that good at giving a single hour-long lecture to a moderately large class. However, the much smaller seminar courses were far more interesting. It was particularly fun when it got to be later in the semester and we started discussing the influence of the Americas up to the American Revolution, and I got to discuss it from an American point of view! The exam, however, was more difficult than I had anticipated. History students in the UK are expected to be able to provide much more detail than history students in the US, and changing my study habits to adapt to that was something I struggled with.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Film, Literature, and Adaptation

Course Department: Languages, Linguistics, and Film
Instructor: Charles Drazin
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This was probably the easiest course I took at Queen Mary, and that showed in the amount of effort students put in to discussions in seminar. While I certainly wouldn't argue that it wasn't an interesting module and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in film as it did give me a whole new perspective on how films are created, and how the stories within them are shaped, particularly when they aren't original stories, it's also the kind of course that you can chill out in a little bit. Not that you don't have to put forth any effort at all to do well, but this is a module that cares more about your thoughts than your work.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Ancient Myth - Modern Theory

Course Department: English
Instructor: Katie Fleming
Instruction Language: English
Comments: At the beginning of this module, you will be warned that this is not a course about ancient myth, but rather a course about modern philosophies as seen through the lens of ancient myth. However, what they won't tell you is that you will be primarily reading many very difficult texts by modern philosophers that are oftentimes almost impossible to understand without at least a little background in philosophy. While the lectures were always interesting as Katie would explain concepts as she discussed them, seminars got to be long and awkward because almost none of the students quite understood exactly what we were supposed to be discussing - certainly not well enough to formulate our own articulate opinions about it. In all fairness, I believe that a lot of that has to do with my particular seminar leader - a nice enough guy, but one who was rather adverse to explaining concepts as he believed that we ought to figure them out on our own - perhaps it would be easier with someone different.
Credit Transfer Issues: