Experience at UCL December 20, 2019

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/23/2019 to 12/13/2019 with

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

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I felt like I learned how to live on my own in a city environment. I also learned a lot from my flatmates about how this experience differed from their experience in their home countries. I also liked being able to take classes in subjects that weren't offered at my home university.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 0-2 weeks

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

I took classes in both the History of Art and the Anthropology departments, but the History of Art department was my "home" department. This meant that I became familiar with the History of Art department through orientation, while I didn't get to experience the same level of familiarity through the Anthropology department. The Anthropology classes met for lecture and had a separate tutorial session, which was basically a smaller seminar class that discussed the readings in depth. This initially confused me at first, but I got the hang of it after the first week. The professors seemed used to dealing with international students, so they were open when asked about procedures for formatting assignments, turning them in, etc. The final assignments for my courses were all papers due at the end of the term (Dec/Jan), so it is really up to you how much time you want to spend on doing the readings for class. With the Anthropology tutorials, you were expected to contribute to the conversations about the readings, while in my art history classes, the readings weren't a big part of the actual lecture. Everything seemed to vary on the department and the professor.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The History of Art affiliate tutor (Diana) was extremely helpful at the beginning of the term in regards to helping us pick classes and getting us acclimated to the expectations of the department.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I chose to live in university accommodations, which ended up being in a co-ed suite in Schafer House. It was really close to campus, several Tube/bus stops, and right around the corner from Sainsbury's (grocery store). You do have to cook for yourself though, which some people might not be a fan of (one of my flatmates got delivery a lot).

* Food:

I made most of my own food, and there are plenty of restaurants in the nearby area to satisfy your taste buds.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I expected to meet more British people than I actually did. I didn't feel like the classes were structured in a way that offered a lot of time to chat with the people around you, and the suite set-up of the university housing meant that I didn't really get to know any of my neighbors. That being said, most of my friends were affiliates from other countries because we were all not UK citizens. London is pretty similar to New York City in terms of brands and restaurants and things, so this might not be the place for you if you're looking for a more traditional "British" experience.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

This didn't apply to me since I didn't have to use the healthcare system at all. I brought my own medicine (NyQuil, Benadryl, etc) that was able to take care of minor colds. I felt that Wellesley had prepared me on what to do in case I ever did have a major health problem. UCL's campus is also literally right next to their hospital, so if anything major happens you could be seen there.

* Safety:

There are visible safety measures around campus (campus security and CCTV) and around the student housing (key fob access and CCTV). Two people I knew got their phones stolen though, so be cautious when you have your phone out in your hand while walking around. I did hear students talking about knives being pulled on them near their residences (non-university owned), but this occurred by a building that was further from campus in a sketchier part of the city. As long as you're cautious and aware of your surroundings, you should be fine.

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

I was looking for a program that would let me experience the British education system while being in the heart of London, and I feel that UCL met that expectation.

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)

I kept track of my spending, so during weeks where I wasn't out a lot I spent around £125 a week. When I was traveling to different cities around England, I would spend around £225 a week. I tried to cut costs when I wasn't doing fun things so that I could afford to spend more when I had days where I was out and about. I didn't spend a lot of money at restaurants/clubs, but more on travel and experiences that I knew that I could only get while abroad.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? on average, between £100-£150 per week ($130-$160)
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Keep track of your spending, either through an app or on paper. Make your own meals to save on food costs. Walk/use public transportation rather than a taxi Look into student railcards/oystercards to save on train expenses Book flights/trains as much in advance as possible (prices increase as the date gets closer)

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?
  • being in a classroom environment
  • getting to explore London
  • living with other international students
* What could be improved?
  • the orientation offered by UCL
  • the communication from the second department
  • orientation events for affiliates only
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I think just expecting to do a lot on your own in terms of getting housing, going to events, and registering. UCL isn't emailing about every little thing that needs to be done, so expect to have to keep on top of things on your own. It bothered some of the other affiliates that I spoke to.

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!