I Will Forever be Chasing the High that is London! September 17, 2023

By (English Language and Literature, Brandeis University) - abroad from 01/14/2023 to 06/03/2023 with

IFSA: London - Queen Mary, University of London

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I met so many people from around the world and got to really be my extroverted self. I tried so many new foods and traveled to so many other countries I would have never gotten to go to otherwise. I found out I LOVE Lisbon and I never would have gone there if it hadn't just been the cheapest flight in March!

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 program was not more academically rigorous than my home institution which was a nice needed break. It was a good amount of outside-of-class work but the actual meeting times for class were so reasonable it left plenty of time for travel and socializing as well as acquainting myself with a whole new country and city!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I personally didn't encounter many issues while aboard but some of my friends in my program needed more assistance with changing their schedules and it was difficult getting people to respond in a timely manner and help them out which stressed them out. Once that was figured out though everything else went smoothly.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The living arrangements were awesome! I had a lovely sized room to myself with an en suite bathroom. I shared a kitchen with eight other flatmates, most of which were actually enrolled full-time at Queen Mary. The only issue I ran into was the kitchen got pretty dirty and I didn't know how to communicate about that with my flatmates effectively, plus I felt like I didn't really have a right to since I was only coming in for one semester. Besides that, I felt safe and comfortable on campus at all times. Maintenance and housing were on call 24/7 to help you with anything and that was awesome.

* Food:

There was a dining hall on campus that you could purchase a meal plan for. I didn't personally opt to do that but some of my friend's did. I would join them for meals and only had to pay 6 pounds for a meal out of pocket. It was very yummy food. The only issue was the dining hall was not open on weekends and closed at about 7pm which was a little early for me.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt very immersed in the culture of the school as well as the surrounding East End area. I got to know so many people from not only England but many different surrounding countries as well which was such an amazing experience.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I got what the doctors determined was mono during my stay abroad. I got extremely sick so much so that I felt like I was going to pass out if I stood up. I tried to call an ambulance to get me to the ER because I could barley breathe and wasn't able to eat or drink anything and the healthcare system called me and said I wasn't sick enough for an ambulance. My friend had to help me all the way there and I ended up having to uber and walk more than I was capable. One trip to A&E they got me in and out in half an hour. But on another trip, I waited five hours in the most pain I've ever been in my life just to have the doctor who saw me tell me to get over and eat something when I asked for intravenous fluids and food. I also asked to get a blood test to confirm it was mono that I had but every doctor refused. Luckily IFSA helped me book a real doctor's appointment which got me much better healthcare but it was not a fun experience, to say the least.

* Safety:

Honestly I felt very safe even though some people may say the East End of London is a bit more "seedy" I didn't find that to be the case. Even when I was out late alone or taking the last Tube home, I felt very safe and comfortable. Queen Mary gates were closed promptly at 8pm and then you had to have your School ID to get in which made campus feel super safe.

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

I've never felt as happy as I did abroad at Queen Mary. I made incredible friends and did such exciting things. I got out of my comfort zone and it literally cured my depression.


* 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)

London is a very expensive city. In all, I think I probably spent approx. $800 - $1,200 a month. This included cheaper plane tickets to travel to other places. Food definitely added up but when I got back to Boston I realized Boston is much more expensive. I had luckily saved and prepared to use my savings but it was tough because I couldn't work for extra spending money while abroad and kinda had to drain what I had.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 200ish
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I honestly think if you have the ability to go home and work all summer to make it back, it's worth every penny. I was spending money mostly on experiences and good food with friends as well as traveling to new places. Honestly my friends and I tried to be relatively cheap. What I did which really helped is I said yes to everything my first two weeks to see how much I would spend if that was probably the max I would spend. Then from there, I calculated if I could keep going like that or if I had to slow down and be particular about what I engaged in. The tube transportation price was probably the most expensive thing you couldn't really scrimp on.


* 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?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • My Friends
  • The Nightlife
  • The Tube
* What could be improved?
  • The Healthcare
  • My SD Card Plan
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Order a student Oyster card before you get there or ASAP.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

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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.