London: an extraordinary city, The People I Met: even better January 02, 2020

By (Brandeis University) - abroad from 09/11/2019 to 12/14/2020 with

IFSA: London - University College London

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned that though the world is so much bigger than I thought it was, so many people from all over share the same values as me. Who would have thought that given the space and time I could be friends with people from Spain, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Germany, Canada, Turkey, and more. I will forever be grateful to have had the opportunity to study abroad, and to the friends I made during my time in London.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

At UCL, my reading and writing skills were challenged, but the professors were very good at making sure I was prepared to handle the difficult classes I was taking.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The IFSA staff in London were very responsive whenever I reached out. They tried their best to help me with every difficulty I faced. Especially when I was having trouble getting into a class I desperately needed, they had my back and helped me get into the class.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The building itself (Ramsey Hall) was not a nice place to live. The bathrooms were shared, and the showers had no control over water temperature. The rooms were not well-kept either. However, if I had to do it all over, I would chose Ramsey Hall again. This is because most of the friends I made were in the same hall. Because the hall was catered, we ate meals twice a day together, and that helped me form close friendships.

* Food:

The food in the living hall was not very good, but the food in London was excellent. There were so many markets where I tried a variety of foods from all over.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I felt like a Londoner when I was there, which was such a great feeling. Once I learned my way around, I could navigate easily, and by participating in my seminars, I felt like a real UCL student.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I experienced a very unfortunate event while abroad, and the IFSA staff instantly helped me find a therapist who I could talk to. They were very responsive, and I would not have been able to navigate finding a therapist on my own without their support.

* Safety:

What helped me feel safe in London was knowing where I was at all times, and not feeling as though I was lost. What also helped me was staying in a group if I wanted to go out at night. Now and then we would hear about incidents, but not really in the area where we lived (which was right near UCL's main building).

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

IFSA at UCL was the perfect program for me. They helped me get acquainted with the city during the four-day orientation, and then they helped me with any problems I had along the way. UCL was a great school, and the english department was full of passionate professors. I met life-long friends from all over the world, and so I wouldn't do it any other way.

Finances

* 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 an expensive city. All these experiences that you want to have while abroad are not cheap, and you need to be aware of that going in. As long as you budget well, especially around meals and shopping trips, then it makes other expenses a lot easier.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $200
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? It's really easy to spend a lot of money on food and drinks. There are definitely a lot of deals that you can find (the Tesco Meal deal is a life saver!), so keep an eye out for those. Also there are a ton of student discounts, so always ask! If you want to travel, the discount airlines are just as efficient as the nicer airlines. They may not be as glamorous, but they get you where you need to go.

Language

* 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?
  • The People
  • The Classes
  • The Support
* What could be improved?
  • More program activities over the weekends - most of them were mid-day and mid-week
  • Program-led tours of the campus - I was very lost on my first few ways, and so a general tour would have been helpful
  • Up-to-date descriptions/reviews of the dorms (the good AND the bad)- I am ultimately happy where I ended up, but I would have liked more information before moving in
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew that it wasn't going to all be good. As much as I am happy looking back, I did struggle to adjust after the first few weeks when the initial excitement wore off. There were ups and downs just like back home, except I was now far from home and didn't have the same support system of friends that I built at my home university. Starting from scratch was hard, but what helped was reaching out and forming stronger friendships with the people around me.

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.