Bella B., UK-England – London’s Calling (English)

ACADEMICS 

1. What types of classes did you take abroad and how did they compare to UCSB? 

I took British Museums, British Cinema, Workforce, and Society & Space. The classes that I took abroad were based in experience and observation as opposed to my UCSB classes which are more reading and writing intensive. Also, I think it’s a given to say that the classes I took abroad were rooted in British culture, which obviously differs from my classes at UCSB.

2. What was your favorite class abroad? 

The class that I enjoyed the most was called British Museums. Not only was my professor outstanding, but this class provided me the opportunity to discover various areas in London that I would have not otherwise visited. I grew especially fond of the Victoria and Albert Museum because of its riveting history and all of the different mediums of art that it houses, such as photography, fashion and architecture. This class also opened my eyes to how much goes into curating displays for museums and the politics surrounding them, such as problematic sponsors for exhibitions, who has a say in what should be displayed, who art “belongs” to, etc. Thanks to this course, I have a newfound appreciation for any museum that I walk into now. 

3. Did you intern, volunteer, or conduct fieldwork or research abroad? If so, tell us about your experience. 

I was a social media intern for a homeless charity called Spitalfields Crypt Trust. My supervisor was especially kind and helpful, and my co-workers always made me laugh with their dry British humor. My internship consisted of putting together creative social media posts and conducting benchmarking research. These tasks challenged me to think more creatively on the spot. Ultimately, my internship experience gave me a taste of what it would be like to work in a British workplace one day. I would be doing a disservice to my internship if I did not mention that my favorite part about working in a British office was being handed cups of tea throughout the day. I cannot think of anything more quintessentially British if I tried. 

HOST INSTITUTION 

4. How would you describe your host institution? 

The host institution was located in the heart of Central London, which was ideal because it meant that I was close to everything, including our living accommodation. The building itself was a refurbished 18th-century home where our classes were held. It was a unique classroom experience to say the least.

5. Are there student clubs/organizations that UC students can join? 

No.

HOUSING 

6. Describe your housing situation. 

I lived in a flat on the fifth floor (stairs for days) with four other girls in my program who are also UC students. The flat itself was nice and the neighborhood was quiet. As mentioned earlier, our accommodation was close to where our classes took place!

FOOD

7. Where did you eat most of your meals?

I went to grocery stores such as Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, and Tesco, and made food at home for the most part.

8. How much was an average meal? Do you have any budgeting tips for future?

An average meal was £10-14. I recommend eating at home and eating out on the weekends!

9. Would it be difficult for vegetarians/vegans and others with strict dietary restrictions to find meals? 

It would not be difficult for people with dietary restrictions to find food suitable for them because it’s a city that offers a vast variety of food options.

10. Describe your most memorable dining experience abroad. 

My favorite dining experience was our weekly nights out at a pub chain called Wetherspoons. The food and drinks are decent and affordable! It’s a great place to unwind after a long week.

11. What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back? 

I miss Nando’s and Leon. Those were my two favorite eateries in the UK!

HOST CITY 

12. Describe your host city. 

London is a massive global city filled with different cultures, free museums, beautiful parks, stunning architecture, and endless shopping opportunities.

13. Was it easy to get around? 

Yes! The public transportation is what I miss the most. It was accessible, clean, and easy to navigate.

14. Did you feel safe in your host city? Do you have any safety tips for future 

I never felt unsafe, even when I went on walks by myself. However, it’s always smart to walk with another person or a group when you’re in a big city.

15. What were some interesting/fun things that you did in your host city? 

Winter Wonderland became our favorite weekly outing towards the end of the program. It’s a winter-themed festival that takes place at Hyde Park and there are rides, drinks, food, and vendors.

HOST CULTURE 

16. Describe any cultural differences you experienced while abroad. 

British people are more reserved than people from the U.S. and I think it’s important to be mindful of that. Also, food in the UK lacks all the chemicals that we have in our food. Food tastes slightly different but that is because it isn’t pumped with GMO’s or artificial additives.

17. How did you handle culture shock? 

Honestly, I did not experience that much culture shock. I felt excited to try new foods and explore new places.

18. What is your favorite aspect of your host culture? 

I love everything about British culture! From British TV/movies to how everyone keeps to themselves, all the way down to dry British humor.

TRAVEL 

19. Tell us your favorite travel story from your time abroad. 

My favorite trips were to Bath and Oxford University. These locations take up a special place in my heart because my favorite writers of all time were once residents of these places and their works were heavily influenced by these places as well. As an English Literature major, these trips were a dream come true. I soaked in the academic space where the greatest minds in literature once studied. While visiting Oxford, I was reminded that legendary figures, such as C.S. Lewis and Oscar Wilde, were alumni. Although there is a low chance of me applying to Oxford for graduate school one day, I felt nonetheless inspired by its unwavering academic prestige. The other trip that fulfilled my dream as an English major was the trip to Bath. As a Jane Austen devotee, I felt fulfilled seeing where she lived for ten years of her life. Bath also happens to be the place where her characters visit in my favorite novel by Austen: Persuasion

REFLECTION 

20. What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal? 

I feared that I would experience homesickness but I was not homesick for a single moment throughout the entire trip. I did not miss home for a second and I never wanted to leave. I am aware that this is an unusual case.

21. What was your biggest challenge abroad? 

The biggest challenge for me was trying to carve out my own personal experience while trying out new experiences with the other people in my program. I resolved this by being independent and creating my own little adventures on Fridays when we didn’t have class.

22. How have you changed as a result of your time abroad? 

The trajectory of my future changed thanks to this experience. I can envision a future for myself outside of the United States and that is something I never thought I would say. Also, living in a global city for four months was the first time that I actually felt connected to the rest of the world. I cannot wait to return to London, hopefully to continue my studies there and eventually make a permanent move. This experience was a sip of my dream life, but I’m ready to finish the pint.

23. What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students? 

Hit the ground running. You can sleep when you return home.


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