An academic challenge that still offered the most meaningful experiences. August 02, 2019

By (Middlebury College) - abroad from 09/27/2018 to 06/14/2019 with

London School of Economics (LSE): London - General Course, Year-Long Study Abroad Programme

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
The confidence to live in a city, a global perspective through my interactions with and studies in European politics and a newfound respect for diversity in experience.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The London School of Economics General Course program tested my ability as a student. I was put in unfamiliar academic situations that required serious independent work and the determination to exceed expectations. Depending on one's course selection, the LSE can be just as, if not more, rigorous than a US institution. Adjusting to the UK's academic structure was a unique test that will serve me well going forward. However, students looking for a study abroad experience centered around cultural immersion would be smart to consider alternatives.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

On-site staff was accommodating and understanding of the GC students' experience. The LSE program coordinators anticipate questions well and exist to offer support throughout the year. Office hours are open to all and students are assigned a mentor upon arriving that can be a good resource.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

The accommodation was convenient and affordable. The rooms were simple, but had a desk, a dresser, and other small storage areas. It would be impossible to find such affordable housing in central London otherwise.

* Food:

The dining hall in the dorm was pretty terrible. Each night, students would be able to pick from one of four entrées. The options were usually as follows: one fish item, one fried item, one red meat option and a vegetable sauté. I imagine being a vegan / vegetarian on this meal-plan would have been exceedingly difficult. Although, I found myself eating the vegetarian option most nights because the protein was unappetizing. There were some nights where plain chicken or salmon were served - these were the nights that made the others just tolerable. We are certainly spoiled at Middlebury to have such variety and accommodating staff. I certainly now appreciate our dining program to a much greater extent. Finally, the staff at LSE will limit the number of food items you can take. For example, you were only permitted two pieces of fruit, one serving of the hot entrée and one dessert per evening. This was monitored fairly strictly.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Attending a genuine, local university certainly promotes strong cultural immersion. Joining LSE societies (our clubs) was a valuable way to meet full-time undergraduates; these peers could quickly turn into good resources for social events and activities. Nevertheless, the General Course students stuck together due to our inherent connection.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

Limited experience, fortunately, but when I needed something, it was usually available.

* Safety:

I felt very safe in London. I never felt truly in danger and had no issues walking around the city at night. I must admit that I am a male and was housed in a very safe area. Uber and other taxi services were always available when needed.

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

I learned so much from my experience in London and it encouraged me to take on new challenges upon returning to the US. Living in London inspired me to move to NYC, I feel confident in my ability to be a lifelong traveler and I met friends that will last forever.

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. There are certainly ways to cut-back on spending. However, if you consider weekend activities and weekly food, you will certainly spend at least $200/week ON AVERAGE.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $250
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Book trips advance as much as possible. Find a good-priced gym if that is a priority for you.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Direct Enrollment

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?
  • London
  • Academic Material
  • Culture
* What could be improved?
  • Campus housing
  • Academic Culture
  • Sense of community
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? The complexity of the visa process and the unnecessary nature of having a bank account.

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 Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

Politics and Institutions in Europe (GV264)

Course Department: Government
Instructor: Multiple
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Probably my least exciting course at the LSE. The material felt disconnected from week to week and the course teacher was more focused on preparing us for the exam rather than inspiring strong discussion. I took this course in addition to GV251 and enjoyed the GV251 material to a much greater extent. GV264 looks at individual nations in Europe and assesses the current political climate while also providing a historical context for their institutions. I took the course as a political science elective.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Elements of Financial Accounting (AC102)

Course Department: Accounting
Instructor: Saipriya Kamath
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Course is a straight-forward introduction to the principles of accounting. It is impossible to stress how helpful this course was when I was preparing for investment banking interviews. Lectures will be dull, but that is generally the nature of an accounting course. The professor did attempt to keep the material relevant by offering an exercise over the winter break that assessed a real-world company.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Government, Politics and Public Policy in the EU (GV251)

Course Department: Government
Instructor: Multiple
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Although this course pushed me the most throughout my time at the LSE, I loved the material. I attended the LSE during a tumultuous time in European politics, and I can confidently say I learned an extraordinary amount - this only served to enrich my cultural experience in London. If you decide to enroll in this course, you MUST do the assigned readings. Don't worry about the optional readings, but understanding the core texts will inform essay assignments in addition to the final exam. FYI: government courses hold one exam at the end of the year that reflects an entire class (in terms of your GPA) at Middlebury. Therefore, you should be aware that the exam period is stressful, but will be manageable so long as you have done the main readings and participated in the class discussion. Overall, the course provides a wonderful insight into the EU, an institution so complex and fraught with conflict. Very happy I took the course even if it meant going the extra mile to succeed.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Quantitative Methods (Statistics) - ST107

Course Department: Statistics
Instructor: James Abdey
Instruction Language: English
Comments: Traditional intro to statistics course. Professor Abdey really tries to make the material interesting and provides tangible applications of the content. I took the course to satisfy a major requirement, but would enroll again because the methods discussed are relevant for all majors.
Credit Transfer Issues:
Course Name/Rating:

Economics in Public Policy (EC230)

Course Department: Economics
Instructor: Mohan Bijapur / Daniel Sturm
Instruction Language: English
Comments: This course was interesting view into the 2008 financial crisis (Michaelmas term) amongst other recent policy issues (e.g. Greek Sovereign Debt crisis) and policy design (Lent Term). The course was not challenging relative to others I took throughout the year, but asked interesting questions and provided practical learnings. The lecturers were engaging and the course teachers were accessible to provide help on class exercises and formative assignments (problem sets). EC230 is a favorite amongst GC students as it is one of the non-quantitative economics courses at the LSE. I highly recommend the class.
Credit Transfer Issues: