Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Life in London

One of the best parts about studying in London is the class structure.  The classes are once a week for about three hours.  The teachers do not take attendance and there is hardly any homework.  The majority of the course grade is based on one assignment and the final project/paper/exam. Since there is no homework, the classes seem much easier than in the US.  The University of Westminster had so many foreign exchange students, that I met more Americans and other nationalities studying abroad than Brits.  This was slightly disheartening, but living in the residential housing was great.  The housing allowed us to meet more British students, as did my internship.  Many nights the kids in the dorm would stay up way too late pulling pranks and getting to know more about each other.  The security at our dorm was very tight; guests were simply not allowed in without a pass.  While this level of security was sometimes burdensome, it also helped me feel really safe.  It was great to live in the heart of the city and know that your dorm is very protected.  The rooms in the dorm were great; we each had our own bathrooms!  The location was unbeatable—just a tube-stop away from anywhere!

My internship was absolutely awesome.  I had the opportunity to attend presentations by major companies like: Google, YouTube, Xbox, Facebook and Twitter, to name a few.  The people I worked with were great- all very young and happy to help interns.  We had work parties and happy hours after company meetings.  The people in the office often wore festive hats or played on the 6-foot iPad.  I also had the good fortune to walk home from work.  The streets were filled with fashionable shops, which I loved!  It was great to do retail therapy after classes and work.  London is a very fashionable city and the clothes are very pretty, but also very expensive compared to clothes in the US.

I got used to living with practically nothing (compared to my US wardrobe) and I never expected this—but I actually really liked having less choices.  It was so much easier to get dressed and I only packed outfits that worked, which made getting ready so much faster!  There is so much to do in London every night of the week. There are always student nights and student deals (which we needed, because London is Very Expensive!!).  It would be amazing to live in London for each year of University, but I think that the students probably learn more in the US.

There were more cultural differences than I expected.  For example, Americans write the date differently than the British, which was a pretty confusing adjustment at first.  Also, at times I felt like there was a language barrier.  In the beginning, I could hardly understand what the people at my internship were saying, but it got much easier with time.  So much so, that I forgot there was even an accent.  Although London is fast-paced, it seems to have a slower vibe than American cities like New York or Chicago and the work pace seemed to be much slower.  Drinking is more engrained in the British culture and is part of many regular activities.  Also, many of the exchange students gained weight while studying in London.  There was very limited access to a gym and fitness did not seem to be as high on the priority list for the British as Americans, although there seems to be less overweight people.  Sometimes it was difficult to know where to buy something.  For example, I wanted a water gun and had no idea where to buy it.  There are not big box stores like Wal-Mart or Target in London, mostly just small shops that carry a certain type of good.  The food got very boring, since we all were saving money most of our diets consisted of Tesco sandwiches, which sound great at first but after 90 days get pretty stale.

London has such an enticing buzz about it.  Literally all of the study abroad students who I met had the time of their lives and many of them are choosing to do graduate school abroad.  We had the opportunity to travel to any European country on the weekends and we learned so much about other cultures and how America fits into the global market.  This experience has been life-changing; I wish that I could have done it sooner in my undergraduate, because I would have tried to study abroad for more than one semester.  The people I met while abroad will be life-long contacts and hopefully, one day I will be back to London to work.  I was seriously thinking about returning to work in London after graduation in the spring, but the pay is a lot less than the US.  So much so, that it would be difficult to support myself when just starting out.  I have a two-year position in Rhode Island starting in July, but hope to travel to Europe again very soon.



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