A wonderful experience! August 22, 2017

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 01/16/2017 to 05/24/2017 with

University of Westminster: London - Direct Enroll Study Abroad & Internships

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I matured a lot by living in a different continent and having to take care of food/money/etc. by myself. London is a diverse and exciting city with countless opportunities so I had many unforgettable experiences. The friendships and memories I made are irreplacable!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The academic rigor was generally manageable. It wasn't necessarily easy but it wasn't hard either (for most classes). I learned a lot in my classes and they do a good job of having different forms of classes to teach students through (lecture, discussion, seminar, etc.). All my classes did a lot of hands on teaching and the teachers generally taught pretty well.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

They did a detailed orientation event that told us everything we needed to know within the first few days and met with us to confirm our classes. These were both very helpful. Afterwards, they weren't very involved though they did check in after the terrorist attacks and put on a few events at the end of the semester.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

My housing was great! I was in the middle of central London in their Marylebone campus and so everything was extremely close and it really helped my transition to be in the center of it all. There was constantly activities and places to explore to keep me busy. The housing itself was very clean and organized. It was great to have a floor kitchen and share a hall with 5 other people who were study abroad students themselves (and therefore mostly American). The dorm I lived in was where most study abroad students ended up so it made my transition and ability to make friends easier, especially since the RAs hosted many fun bonding events for the dorm. The rooms were kind of tiny but they were big enough for what we needed and had a good location so I wasn't complaining. The only things that weren't good about the Marylebone dorm was that the elevators were constantly breaking down so I had to take 7 flights of stairs often (which wasn't bad ultimately since it was good exercise) and that there was a weekly fire alarm drill every Thursday morning between 8 - 10 am which I found excessive and unnecessary.

* Food:

We didn't get any campus meals and weren't offered a campus meal plan option so I don't know how exactly to rate food. There was a cafe in each school campus so that was helpful. Our kitchens were nice but weren't equipped so we had to buy pots/pans/etc. It was frustrating to have to spend a lot of money on food, especially in a city as expensive as London. Majority of my money went towards food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was very lucky to have a lot of friends and family already in the area, which made a huge difference in my integration. If I didn't have that, it would have been harder for me to integrate. It really depended on the dorm you ended up in because Marylebone was definitely the easiest dorm to make friends in. Because the dorm was mostly American study abroad students and the RAs did a good job of creating bonding activities, I was able to meet people in the same boat as me really easily and created a great group of friends. Through classes I made friends with a few local students, which was nice as well. It's hard to make friends with local students just because I was a bit segregated from them. Being in Marylebone and the center of London allowed me to constantly explore and get to know the city extremely well so by the end of the semester I definitely felt very integrated.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The health care experience was generally extremely easy and great. I got an infection in the middle of the semester and was told by others to go to the local pharmacy (Boots) where the pharmacists are extremely knowledgeable (you usually go to a chemist/pharmacist before the doctor in the UK from what I gathered). They were able to listen to my symptoms and give me the medicine I needed. My infection continued (not because of their fault) and so I had to go to the doctor. I found the school health services very easily and was able to walk in and be seen within the hour. The nurse was knowledgeable and talked to me about my symptoms. The only thing I didn't like was that there was only a nurse available and they didn't have the means to treat my common infection at the school. That being said, they referred me to a local hospital and my experience there was very easy. It was completely free (in fact I went numerous times) and they didn't need any paperwork/citizenship proof/etc. The wait was very long but since the hospital was easy to understand, helpful, saw me and gave me my medicines for free, and was very close by, I can't complain.

* Safety:

I feel neutral about the safety precautions. Right now, London is a targeted city and there was the Westminster attack while I was there and the Tower of London attack a couple days after I left. In that sense, every once in a while the thought of being at the wrong place at the wrong time was scary. However, it was based off of luck and there wasn't much you could do about it. Londoners live their lives normally and when you're there in the moment, it doesn't feel like it's an unsafe city or that you need to be worried about terrorist attacks. Even during the Westminster Attack, I generally didn't feel extremely unsafe and the city was quiet for one day before life resumed. Though the school/government gave us reminders of safety precautions and told us not to take the tube/stay inside in the immediate aftermath. I often walked around late at night with friends and had to walk alone at 3/4 am numerous times to catch flights. In all instances I felt always safe, though I was always cautious about always being aware of my surroundings. My dorm was in an affluent and safe part of town so it also always felt safe to me. Generally, London is a big city and anything can happen within today's political climate. It's important to always be cautious but, that being said, the city has continued on like normal and you don't feel unsafe when you're living there in the moment.

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

London is a wonderful and exciting city. My dorm location was great and made exploring convenient. Westminster allowed me flexibility in the different subjects I learned and so I was able to take a set of diverse classes that I learned a lot from. Westminster's film department is especially great and has wonderful equipment (a full professional studio, all the software, cameras, etc.) that made my learning experience great. I made wonderful friends by being in Marylebone, a dorm that most study abroad students stayed in. All in all, a wonderful experience.

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 definitely an expensive city. If you're like me and don't have much experience with cooking, living without a campus meal plan was hard and I spent more on food than I would have liked. Food, drinks, going out, traveling, etc. is all very expensive in London. There's a huge traveling culture in students studying abroad in London and so you need to save a bit for that.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? There are a LOT of student discounts at stores/etc., specific club/bar nights where students can get in for cheaper, and the Westminster student bars were also affordable and fun. So if you know where to look, you can find affordable options.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

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
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?
  • The friendships
  • The dorm's location
  • The information I learned in classes
* What could be improved?
  • Administrative help in special academic circumstances
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Be very organized about how you spend your money

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 Outright Urbanite
A social butterfly, you're happiest in bustling cities with hip people, and took advantage of all it had to offer. You enjoyed the nightlife, and had fun going out dancing, and socializing with friends. Fun-loving and dressed to the nines, you enjoyed discovering new restaurants, shops, cafes, and bars in your host country.

Individual Course Reviews

Course Name/Rating:

The End of Empire: Decolonization since 1945

Course Department: History
Instructor: Anthony Gorst
Instruction Language: English
Comments: One of my classes was pretty hard because it was the highest level of history, or in other words a history class made of future historians/people who had rigorously studied the subject for the past three years. I still would have taken it if I knew that beforehand but it would have been better if I knew that going in. Therefore, it's important to emphasize how the school system works in other parts of the world. In the end, I loved that class and professor and learned a lot so I would definitely recommend it to others.
Credit Transfer Issues: