Past Review

By (Comparative Literature., SUNY - Binghamton) for

SUNY Binghamton: London - Semester in London

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My study abroad experience was definitely worthwhile. I became more independent and confident in myself and my abilities. I was able to indulge my passion for theater while reading great works of literature written by people who once lived in the area in which I was staying. I gained a sense of the bigger picture and grew to appreciate the good and bad of both my host country and the United States, able to compare and contrast without a bias. My only wish is that my experience could have lasted longer!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks
The term and year this program took place: Spring 2010

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The workload was definitely manageable throughout the semester, up until the final week of classes, when the majority of the students felt pressed for time. The professors all succeeded in assigning the largest amount of coursework during our final week, just when we were trying to take the most advantage of our surroundings, a fact which was not appreciated. Despite this, the teachers were unfailingly understanding and helpful, although the grading process remained a bit shrouded in mystery, a tactic which could be improved upon. Progress reports detailing what each student could work on to achieve better grades, or at least a heads up or a few comments from the teachers might be helpful in the future.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

Our program coordinator was incredibly open to student interaction and provided us with many methods of contacting her, even when she was traveling. She was easy to talk to and clearly enjoyed her job. However, some of her answers to my basic questions were not the most helpful and several times her speed at getting things done for us, especially involving flat issues was inadequate.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Our flat was clean, well sized, and supplied us with all of the basic appliances, furniture, and kitchen and bathroom supplies. However, there were several problems. The fixture to hold one of our shower heads had broken off prior to our arrival, and the water temperature in that shower was either bone chillingly cold or scalding hot, making that shower essentially useless. The paint and ceiling of the other shower was falling apart and flakes often fell down. The mattresses were terrible and the springs dug into our backs nightly (each time we stayed in a hostel the beds were better than at our flat). Our flat was not supplied with mirrors or recycling bags, and Acorn took forever to respond to our multiple requests for either of these. The heat was consistently a problem, and did not work correctly for at least the first week, before breaking once again a few weeks later. A few times all of the lights in the bathrooms shut off for several days and twice the lights in the kitchen and sitting room area stopped working. <br /><br /> Our flat was clean, well sized, and located in a terrific and safe part of London, within walking distance of two tube stations, the British Museum, and our classroom. I bought a laundry hamper and brought an extra set of towels, although we were provided with towels by Acorn.

* Food:

The majority of grocery stores were not as well stocked with as much of a variety of each product as American stores are. They do clearly mark all foods suitable for vegetarians. The produce tasted fresher than produce at home, but it didn't keep as long before spoiling. The food at chain restaurants such as Nando's, the Hare and Tortoise, and Pizza Express is better than at chains in America. The Indian food was excellent.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The trip to Stratford-upon-Avon was fun and interesting and I really enjoyed the opportunity to see a performance of King Lear by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Shakespeare's hometown. However, I did not appreciate the fact that the students were not consulted when deciding whether or not to visit Oxford on that same trip when our program adivsor had expressly told us we would be able to contribute to the decision.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

I felt very safe throughout the program because our flat was located in a great district in London. Our flats required a bob and key to acquire entrance, and we were not able to simply buzz someone at the door in, which eliminated the ability of trespassers to gain entrance.

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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent approximately 20-25 pounds on food and 30-50 pounds on personal expenses each week, usually on theater tickets and topping up my oyster card or phone.
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? I would advise taking money out of ATMs only on the inside of banks whenever possible. Avoid using ATMs outside on the street. Take out large amounts of money at a time, especially if your bank charges a fee for each withdrawal. Put aside the majority of the money in a safe place in the apartment and carry only a small amount in your purse or wallet at a time.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Apartment
* Who did you live with?

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  • Americans
* Who did you take classes with?

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  • Americans

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Students who are outgoing, open minded, independent, and love history, travel, and the arts will find this program a good fit.