Alexis Breanna M., UK-England – King’s College London (History)

Courtyard of Somerset House next to Strand Campus

ACADEMICS

  1. What types of classes did you take abroad and how did they compare to UCSB? I went abroad for my junior year, so I took classes that to satisfy both my History major and Classics minor. All of them carried back to UCSB as upper division courses. In comparison to UCSB classes, there are a few differences. In choosing classes, I was not able to know how each one looked in my schedule until I was abroad, and had to make a few changes compared to how on GOLD one can easily decide what class fits into their schedule. For the Level 5 and 6 classes, with 6 being the highest level an undergraduate can take, the class sizes were about the size of a section at UCSB, and they last for about two hours, and these two hours would be the only time you’d see your professor and classmates for the whole week. At King’s I did not see my professors as much since class time was equated to one day out of the week unless one had a lecture and then a tutorial (equivalent of a section). Another difference is the workload. I found that at King’s despite taking four classes a semester, the work load was less than what I would get with even three classes a quarter at UCSB. Of course I still was required to complete readings to discuss during class, but the only assignments due would usually be two essays if they did not have a final exam (some classes determined the grade based on two papers, with the lowest paper grade counting for 30% of your grade then the highest paper grade for 70% of your overall class grade). What I did like about these midterm and final papers was that although the professors are not constantly reminding you to complete it, you develop a sense of responsibility to stay on top of it despite the lack of guidance other than the prompts and rubric. All the final exams are held at the end of spring semester, so if you had a fall semester class that required a final exam, you would not take it till the end of spring semester. But the good thing about the exam period is that once spring semester ends, students have about a month of free time to study and prepare for the following month when all the exams are held.
  2. What was your favorite class abroad? My favorite class abroad was “The Worlds of the Indian Oceans,” which gave an general sense of the history of the Indian Ocean and understanding the different people who traded and traveled along its waters, where they came from, why they came to the Indian Ocean, and the mark they left.

HOST INSTITUTION

  1. How would you describe your host institution? King’s College London is a very dynamic university with an impressive curriculum and faculty. It is one of the colleges within the University of London system and boasts not just a remarkable aluminums but it’s patron is Queen Elizabeth II.
  2. Are there student clubs/organizations that UC students can join? There are a variety of clubs and organizations that UC students can join, but I did not join any of these clubs while I was abroad but have friends in those organizations such as King’s College London Student Union.
Courtyard of Somerset House next to Strand Campus

HOUSING

  1. Describe your housing situation. I choose to live in student housing provided by King’s. I was placed in a relatively students-only apartment in East London, resulting in a daily 20 minute commute two and from the central location of King’s Strand Campus. The apartment is either flat or studio style, and I was in a flat style. I had my own en-suite room with a shared common space and kitchen with my other four flatmates. The only thing I had an issue with was the distance to campus.

FOOD

  1. Where did you eat most of your meals? I mostly cooked at my flat since the produce is very fresh there and it allowed me to save money instead of eating out all the time. However, I did enjoy trying new spots to eat and ordering take out since London boasts a very international food scene.
  1. How much was an average meal?  Do you have any budgeting tips for future students? The average meal is about 10 – 12 pounds. For budgeting I would suggest making meals at home or even buying meal deals at one of the grocery stores which have a wide array of fresh, ready-to-eat meals that can be found in the refrigerated sections.
  2. Would it be difficult for vegetarians/vegans and others with strict dietary restrictions to find meals? No, London has a lot of vegetarian and vegan options in terms of restaurants and ingredients.
  3. Describe your most memorable dining experience abroad. My most memorable dining experience is more like experiences, and that would be having a Sunday roast. It is a dish that is only served on Sundays and can be found at any pub. With a choice of beef, pork, chicken, lamb or a vegetarian option, one gets a generous portion of roasted potatoes, veggies, cauliflower cheese and gravy with a Yorkshire pudding. Essentially its like having a Christmas dinner once a week!
  4. What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back? Besides for a Sunday Roast, I also miss cod fish and chips, and pie and mash. For those who thing British food is tasteless, it isn’t! It’s some of best food I’ve had while abroad!
Pork Belly Sunday Roast


HOST CITY

  1. Describe your host city. London is a very cosmopolitan city. There is never not something to do, with lots of parks and museums to explore to an array of restaurants and open-air markets only a short tube-ride away.
  2. Was it easy to get around? Absolutely! The Tube system is one of the most efficient public transportation systems in the country, and with buses, overground trains, and even ferries along the River Thames, transportation is not a hassle. What is also good is that if there is a delay on a certain line or there will be construction, there will be signs posted in the stations as well as online. Also Ubers are usually cheaper than getting a Black Cab.
  1. Did you feel safe in your host city? Do you have any safety tips for future students? I felt safe in London. London has government-operated CCTVS, even on the tube trains. There still are police that patrol. For future students I highly advised to be aware of your surroundings. In the world we live in anything can happen so there is nothing wrong with being a little alert even if you feel super safe. Unlike in the States, having pepper spray is illegal. Central and West/Southwest London are relatively safe areas, but London in general does have a history of some acid and knife crime in the past (usually East London) so just be aware your surroundings.
  2. What were some interesting/fun things that you did in your host city? Some of the fun and interesting things I did in my host city was go on an ABBA-themed cruise down the River Thames, explore the different independent coffee shops such as Press Coffee and Gail’s, wander through the British Museum, hanging out with friends at Hyde Park, and exploring Richmond and Richmond Park!
The Thames in Richmond


HOST CULTURE

  1. Describe any cultural differences you experienced while abroad. One of cultural differences was personalities. As Americans were are openly friendly and a bit loud while in England people are a lot more reserved in public and around strangers, but are nonetheless friendly.
  2. How did you handle culture shock? I handled culture shock by hanging out not just with other American students but also with U.K. students and socialize with them. It’s all about getting used to it and its not as bad as one may think.
  3. What is your favorite aspect of your host culture? My favorite aspect about my host culture how invested into football (not American football, proper English football) people are there and how passionate they are about their team. It’s also really fun to watch the football or rugby in a pub, the atmosphere is incredible.


TRAVEL

  1. Tell us your favorite travel story from your time abroad. One of my two favorite travel stories from abroad was when I went to Paris with my boyfriend. While it was my third time there, it was his first. In the three days we were there I showed him around and even saw some new sites I had not previous explored, and the whole experience was beautiful thanks to the good company, the fresh baguettes, and perfectly fixed cappuccinos as we strolled along the Seine. My other favorite story is when I went up to Edinburgh for a Thanksgiving event planned for UC students. The city is a historical gem and some of the fun things I did was hike up to Arthur’s Seat (only to slip on the ice a few times on the way up) and explore the Christmas market!
Dinner View of the Eiffel Tower
View of the Seine with Notre Dame in the Distance


REFLECTION

  1. What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal? I think my biggest fear was how to make friends that were not UC students. It turned out not to be a big deal at all because I made friends that were either U.K. students or other international students in class or in my apartment.
  1. What was your biggest challenge abroad? I think my biggest challenge abroad was having to keep up with news from home and not being there. I remember when there were fires in Southern California I felt helpless because I wasn’t there to see if my parents were alright.
  2. How have you changed as a result of your time abroad? I have changed as a result of my time abroad in that I feel more grown up. Being in a busy and bustling city like London is fun and intense as a student but I think thanks to my time abroad my work ethic as well as my academic skills have strengthened a lot more than I had expected.
  3. What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students? My advice would be to study abroad, the opportunity is there for you to seize it regardless of the price of the program, and if you can, definitely go abroad for a whole academic year, you won’t regret it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s