About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Economics and Political Science
Program: London School of Economics
Term: Summer 2019
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
Having lived in North Carolina my entire life, I always knew that I wanted to go abroad in some capacity during my time at UNC. I had a strong desire to experience living in a foreign country, but I was also a bit reluctant to go somewhere that I thought would be too culturally different from the United States. London seemed like a perfect fit for me, because I would be able to experience a different culture without feeling too out of place. Academically, the LSE program seemed like a perfect fit for me as well, because I would be able to take classes that could give me credit for my majors.
What did you learn about yourself?
More than anything else, I learned that I have the ability to be a much more independent and self sufficient person than I had previously imagined. Prior to the trip, I was a little nervous about the prospects of staying in a foreign country for six weeks without any prior friends. Even the process of simply flying from Charlotte to London alone was slightly intimidating to me. By the end of the trip, though, I really felt like I had made London my home. It was no longer a foreign city but a place where I felt completely at ease, despite being completely out of my element when I first arrived.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
Probably my favorite memory from the trip was watching the U.S. vs. England women’s World Cup game at a local bar. The place was extremely crowded and about equal in American versus English fans, so the atmosphere was absolutely electric. The U.S. ended up winning in a very close game, so it was a lot of fun to celebrate with the other Americans I met while watching.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Don’t feel obligated to go with a group of friends. Although I knew a handful of people going on the same program, there was nobody that I was particularly close with. However, I met a lot of people in the same situation as me and was able to make lots of friends. If possible, I would definitely recommend staying in a university accommodation, because I found that that was a great way to meet other students. In addition, explore the city as much as possible, and try to visit more than just the most popular locations. In a place like London, it’s very easy to only hang out in tourist friendly areas. However, by visiting some of the less well-known parts of the city, you can have a more authentic and fulfilling experience.
Would you do it again?
I had a genuinely great time at LSE and would absolutely do it again if I had the chance. For one, I liked being able to meet such a wide variety of people in the program. I met lots of Americans from every region of the country, as well as people from all over the world. Both of the classes I took were very stimulating, and it was very insightful to be able to learn about the subjects from a non-American perspective. In addition, London is an incredible city, and I feel like I took advantage of everything it had to offer. Lastly, London’s proximity to the rest of Western Europe allowed me to take two separate weekend trips to Dublin and Amsterdam, which were some of the biggest highlights of my six weeks.
How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at UNC?
Because each course only lasts three weeks, it’s obviously going to move at a much quicker pace than a class taken over a normal length semester. In addition, the lectures are three hours long, so it feels much longer than a typical class. The biggest difference may be how the class is graded, though. Both of my classes had only two assignments, each weighted at 50%. Although there were daily readings, there were not any sort of quizzes or other smaller assignments that factored into the course grade. As far as the grading standards went, though, I would say that it was fairly comparable to UNC.