Zeke B, UK-England – London School of Economics Summer

I’m a third year Econ major, and I went to London for the summer to study at the London School of Economics.

ACADEMICS

  1. What types of classes did you take abroad and how did they compare to UCSB? I took an economics class and a finance class at LSE. The economics class was similar to a UCSB format and the finance class was much more hands on and interactive than any big class I’ve taken in Santa Barbara.
  2. What was your favorite class abroad? My favorite class abroad was the finance class I took, called “Alternative Investments.” In this class I got to explore the investing world in a way I had never seen it before and learned how to use excel to create basic investing models. 

HOST INSTITUTION

  1. How would you describe your host institution? I had high expectations for the London School of Economics because of its prestigious reputation and from testimonies of others who had attended the summer program there, and it still blew me away. The campus is a beautiful slice of London, fitting right into the heart of the city, and the professors and graduate assistants are everything they’re cracked up to be.
  2. Are there student clubs/organizations that UC students can join?LSE advertises a variety of clubs and student organizations, but many of them are less active during the summer; I did explore them much because I was there for such a short time.

HOUSING

  1. Describe your housing situation. A friend and I decided to spurn the LSE dorms to save a little money and stay at an Airbnb in Southwick, about a 15 minute bus ride from the school. The apartment was small and a little cramped for two people, but still a lot bigger than the LSE rooms and being outside the dorms offered us a lot of freedom. The public transportation in London is fantastic and distance was not an issue, but it did feel like we were missing out on some of the social aspects of the dorms at times. 

FOOD

  1. Where did you eat most of your meals?I made the majority of my meals at home during my time in London. It was much, much cheaper than eating out and it forced me to learn how to cook.
  1. How much was an average meal?  Do you have any budgeting tips for future students? The average meal I made at home cost between £4 and £8, while eating out would routinely be £15 or more. That said, the restaurant food was ~ a lot~ better than what I was making. I would still recommend shopping at the supermarket to cook your meals on weekdays and saving your money to eat out on weekends.
  2. Would it be difficult for vegetarians/vegans and others with strict dietary restrictions to find meals? London has a ton of options and I don’t think it would be too hard to find vegetarian/vegan/gluten free meals. There was even a vegan cafe on campus!
  3. Describe your most memorable dining experience abroad. My favorite meal was at Dishoom, an Indian restaurant in London. A friend’s parents were visiting and took us all to dinner, and we got a four course dinner with some of about every Indian dish imaginable. It was by far the best Indian food I’d ever had in my life (even better than Naan Stop)!
  4. What local food or drink do you miss most now that you are back? I miss being able to go out and grab a pint from any of the innumerable pubs in the area after class.


HOST CITY

  1. Describe your host city. London is a huge, beautiful, and complex city, and I would recommend everyone to visit at least once in their life. I was there for six weeks and I feel like I barely made a dent in exploring the city. Too many times to count, my friends and I would be wandering around and stumble upon some little corner that felt like something everyone should see.
  2. Was it easy to get around? Coming back from London, one of the biggest differences was how inadequate the US public transportation system suddenly felt. The bus system and tube in London were incredibly convenient – London’s a huge, crowded city and you could still get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time.
  1. Did you feel safe in your host city? Do you have any safety tips for future students? Overall, I felt very safe in London. The one tip I would have for future students would be to watch out for pickpockets. Violent crime is nearly nonexistent in the area I was in, but you always had to be on guard for pickpockets.
  2. What were some interesting/fun things that you did in your host city? Honestly, the most interesting and fun things we did in London came on days where we just set out to explore as much as possible. Camden Market and Soho are amazing places to wander around and take everything in, especially as you are beginning to adjust to the city. The night life, of course, is also great.


HOST CULTURE

  1. Describe any cultural differences you experienced while abroad. There was very little culture shock for me in London – once I got used to everyone driving on the wrong side of the road and figured out how to cross the street (it’s harder than it sounds), I was fine.
  2. How did you handle culture shock? Culture shock never really hit me – I think London was pretty easy to adapt to.
  3. What is your favorite aspect of your host culture? I loved the drinking culture in London. At 5pm every weekday, the pubs would fill all the way up with men in white button down shirts and women in work dresses – it seemed that everyone coming out of an office building went straight to go grab a pint to catch up with friends and let off steam for the day. It was fun to be around. Also, there are no open container laws in London. Walking around with a beer and not feeling like I needed to be looking over my shoulder was absolutely exhilarating.


TRAVEL

  1. Tell us your favorite travel story from your time abroad. My favorite trip when I was abroad was going to Dublin with my friends for a weekend. The problem was, our weekend away was actually less than a day – our flight there left at 6AM on Saturday and our return flight was at 7AM the next day. Nothing against Dublin, but it is the perfect city to take in in exactly 23 hours, and that’s precisely what we did. We set our bags down in the hostel once we got in and came back to get them at 5 the next morning to catch our plane – the rest of our time was spent scurrying around the city trying to take in as much as possible. The trip left us dead tired and somewhat delirious, but we were able to check off all the touristy destinations and find time to grab a Guinness (or two) in between.


REFLECTION

  1. What was your biggest fear about studying abroad that turned out to be no big deal? Going in, I was afraid that the LSE classes were going to be completely overwhelming. I was wrong. While definitely not “easy,” the classes I took were very doable and comparable to the level of difficulty I faced at UCSB. I learned a lot and was left with plenty of time to have fun abroad.
  1. What was your biggest challenge abroad? My biggest challenge was always going to be making new friends in London. I’m a pretty introverted person and I was going with two of my friends from here, so it was very easy for me to just hang out with them and not branch out much. I also made it harder on myself by living outside of the dorms. That said, by the end of my time in London I had made a few new friends from UCSB and around the world, it just took a little effort on my part.
  2. How have you changed as a result of your time abroad? I think my time abroad made me much more outgoing, both in the classroom and the real world. The class environment in Europe is much more interactive, and everyone was forced to participate whether we liked it or not. I didn’t like it at first, but being back now I’m so glad I had that experience because I am a stronger participant now. Socially, being thrown in a new environment and forced to meet new people definitely forced me to get out of my shell a little.
  3. What is your advice to prospective UCSB EAP students? I would advise prospective EAP students to make the leap. It can definitely be hard or scary at first, but going abroad was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life – and I was only gone for six weeks! Isla Vista will still be here when you get back and your time abroad is something you will never forget.

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