Exploring London and Europe January 21, 2016

By (Economics, Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/19/2015 to 12/19/2015 with

University College London (UCL): London - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I had an amazing experience studying abroad in London. I met a lot of new people, traveled to a lot of new places, and learned a lot of new things. London is the perfect place to study abroad; there are countless opportunities to explore the city and it's location is optimal for traveling to different countries in the UK and in Europe. UCL is also great for exchange students. You spend less time in class, which means more time immersing yourself in British culture. UCL's location is also hard to beat- just a 10/20 minutes walk north of central London. While I wouldn't necessarily want to go to university at UCL for all 3 years, the atmosphere is good for international exchange students.

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 university is much bigger than Wellesley, and many of the classes are large lectures. The learning style is more independent than in the US, and students are expected to do a lot of research outside of the classroom. Overall, though, the courses I took were well taught and interesting.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration was not particularly helpful. Sometimes they simply didn't give us the information we needed as UCL students, and other times they were difficult to contact. If I had a question, I had to email them multiple times or drop by their offices in person to get a helpful answer.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I stayed in Ramsay Hall, which is a big complex quite similar to a dorm. While the rooms were small, I stayed in a single. Since there are so many people (especially first years) in the hall, it can get loud on the weekends. However, the location is hard to beat- 5 minute walk from campus and 10 minute walk from Oxford Street. I also liked the catered meals, because I didn't want to worry about cooking every day.

* Food:

Ramsay Hall is catered, and they provide breakfast and dinner Monday through Friday. The actual food quality varied, sometimes alright and sometimes not the best, but the convenience made up for it. I didn't have to spend an hour or more every night cooking dinner, and I think that I saved money living in the catered hall.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Living in a university hall definitely helped me meet new local people. I found that I mostly spent time with other international students at UCL because we had similar interests and wanted to do the same activities (we wanted to travel, explore the city, etc.). However, I did become friends with a few UK students. Most of the British students on my hall were first years, though, and while they were very friendly, we had different priorities.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The healthcare center on campus was very accessible. As an exchange student only there for the fall term, I couldn't register for a GP but I could be treated as a guest. It was slightly difficult for me to get set up in the system, but once I was I had no problems. The doctors were very helpful and it was easy to get prescriptions at a local pharmacy.

* Safety:

I felt very safe on campus and in the area that I lived in (Fitzrovia/Bloomsbury). I also felt safe traveling on public transportation around London. However, some of my friends who lived in Camden (about 30 minutes north of UCL's main campus) didn't always like to walk around after dark because of safety concerns. Luckily, nothing happened to any of them. My biggest concern was petty theft, and you always have to be vigilant with your bags, phones, and debit cards when using ATMs particularly in touristy areas.

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

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. Everything from food to clothing to housing to transportation is a lot more than I was used to, plus the exchange rate made it even worse. You can easily spend $200 a week especially if you want to travel (note though that internationally travel is relatively cheap and easy once you are in Europe).

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? Try not to eat out all of the time. Grocery stores have reasonably priced food.

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?
  • Location in London
  • Rigor of the courses
  • Opportunities to travel Europe
* What could be improved?
  • Administration
  • More professor-student interaction
  • Less weight placed on the final exam
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Traveling takes a lot of planning. Try to think about where you want to go and what you want to do while abroad so that you can make the most of your time there. I was able to visit 7 different countries in three months, usually by leaving London every other weekend. Also try to keep track of your expenses so that you know how much you are spending. London is expensive, and it's easy to forget that you may have a budget.

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!