A Surprising and Enjoyable Adventure January 07, 2019

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/24/2018 to 12/14/2018 with

SOAS, University of London: London - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Enjoyed meeting people from all over, taking interesting classes not offered at my home university, visiting new countries and enjoying their culture. Definitely worthwhile

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.

Classes not as intense as my home university; pretty chill. Less class time and very few assignments; professors just trusted you to keep up with the readings. Learned more in some classes than in others; it all depended on the professor. Overall, I enjoyed my SOAS classes.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Very helpful study abroad administrator; she answered all my questions and organized fun study abroad events.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Pros: Excellent dorm location, cheap rent, everyone had singles with a nice kitchen. Cons: Dorm staff could be rude and weren't always the most helpful. My friends reported many maintenance problems, including bed bugs, leaking toilets, random electricity outages, that were slow to be addressed. The laundry was very expensive. We had to buy all our kitchen equipment.d

* Food:

London has a lot of great international food. Eating out is expensive though, so I cooked most of my meals.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

School and dorm are right in the city center so I explored lots of neighborhoods, museums, parks, etc. Not as much student body life/dorm life as American schools but that was okay with me. Made friends with local and international students.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't have health issues personally, but my friends who did reported that they were able to get free medical help immediately. Yay, free health care!

* Safety:

Never felt unsafe; London is very busy at all hours of the day and night and the tube runs late.

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

London is a huge, city full of endless things to do and SOAS is one of the few schools entirely devoted to Asian/African/Middle East studies.

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 expensive. I'm a cheap person so I made it work. I cooked almost every meal and only went out to eat on special occasions. Didn't buy a lot of material things and mainly went to free museums, walked around markets, parks, etc. Saved my money for traveling

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Not including traveling to external countries, I spent about $100/week
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Eat in and go grocery shopping at Sainsbury, Tesco, Aldis, or Iceland. They are much cheaper than Waitrose or M&S. Get a free Nectar Rewards card and fill in online surveys for free grocery money. Also, sometimes produce is cheaper from outdoor fruit stands. Get a 16-25 railcard-for 30 pounds a year it gives you 1/3 off all UK rail fares and 1/3 off tube fares. Read Time Out London magazine (free at every tube station every Tuesday) for special deals. Go to the free museums. Special hint: St. Paul's Cathedral is free on Sundays and Westminster Abbey is free during the almost daily Evensong service.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? Yes
How much did the program encourage you to use the language?

0 = No encouragement, 5 = frequent encouragement to use the language

Technically, my overall program didn't have a foreign language component but I took 2 foreign language classes for my major.

How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Intermediate
How would you rate your language skills at the end of the program? Advanced
What was the highest level language course you had completed prior to departure? Chin 202
How many hours per day did you use the language?

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

  • 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?
  • SOAS classes-specific to my major
  • Freedom to explore London and Europe
* What could be improved?
  • Dinwiddy staff
  • Class administration at SOAS-didn't get to choose tutorial times
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you can, bring extra towels/sheets and kitchen/school supplies from home. These can be very expensive in London, although Primark is helpful for the former.