The “Study” in Study Abroad

As much as I wish being here was all play and no work, I am here in London to study and focus on school (at least a little bit). So, today I will be sharing what it is like to actually study while being abroad!

A view of London.

My class schedule is actually pretty ideal considering each class only occurs once a week. Because I am also doing an internship while being abroad, which takes place on Mondays and Thursdays, I only have classes two days a week. As a Humanities major with a business minor, I am receiving three total credits for my degree while taking classes abroad – two for Humanities and one for business. With that being said, here is a little breakdown of my schedule:

On Tuesdays, I start my mornings with a literature class focused on Shakespeare the Dramatist. One might find his work to be difficult to get through, and maybe even a bit tedious, but it has actually been a very interesting course so far as we have brought his plays into a modern context and studied them through non-typical lenses. Tuesday afternoons are spent in an Architecture of London class, where we travel all over London to learn about different architectural styles and the contrast between modern architecture and styles dating all the way back to Roman and Greek periods.

Wednesdays start off with a Film Production class where we are working towards creating a five-minute short film while learning about different film and production styles. In the afternoon, I have International Marketing and Management where we discuss global marketing strategies and brand efficiency. Every other Wednesday evening I have an Internship Seminar. There are only about twenty or so students who are also participating in an internship on top of their studies, and we are receiving class credit with the attached seminar portion.

There are no classes on Fridays, which are reserved for field trips, make-up days, and – my favorite use of a Friday – travel. This is one of the biggest academic differences between studying here and at Wofford. With no classes on Fridays, we are able to spend more time exploring London or have opportunities to travel other places. Another difference between my classes abroad in comparison to Wofford is the duration. Classes here are longer, as they only occur once a week, and they are about two and a half hours each with a break in the middle.

To be completely honest, the workload of the courses here is very different in comparison to what it is at Wofford. At Wofford, my classes typically involve some level of multiple tests/essays/assignments throughout the semester on top of midterms, finals, and weekly homework. Being abroad, however, is almost the opposite. For most of the courses offered here, at least for all of the ones I am taking, there is one assignment for midterms and one assignment as a final. Midterms are coming up in the next week, and all of my midterms are essays, which is just fine with the Humanities major in me. Because of this seemingly reduced workload, I found it quite easy to adjust to the academic expectations and rigor while being abroad. I have also found it easy, and very refreshing, to maintain a balance between school and exploring London and the surrounding areas.

The Kenilworth Castle that I saw on one of the field trips offered.

A Day in the Life

Welcome to a day in the life of a London student! I am living in a flat with four other students, one of whom is my friend from Wofford. Each person has a private bedroom and bathroom, and we share a kitchen and living space which looks out onto a courtyard. My flat is right across the street from the tube station where the Victoria line takes me into Central London. I ride this line for three stops before having to switch to the Piccadilly line, which I ride for six stops to the closest station to my classes. After getting off the tube, I walk roughly seven minutes to my school, making the total commute about thirty minutes.

Because I have my internship on Mondays and Thursdays, I only have classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There are no classes on Fridays, as those days are reserved for field trips and make-up days. Once I arrive to school on Tuesdays, I have my first class of the day, a Shakespeare Literature course, at 9:30 am. I also have an Architecture of London class Tuesday afternoons, which consists of walking tours all around London to see different architectural monuments. On Wednesdays, I start my mornings with a Film Production class, followed by International Marketing and Management. Every other Wednesday evening, I have an internship seminar, as I am receiving class credit for the internship. Every night, I make dinner in my flat and either work on homework or hang out with my friends in one of our flats.

Although each class is only once a week, they all last roughly two and a half hours, with a short break in the middle. Because of this, I do not have very much free time until the school day is over, but when I do, I spend it either grabbing lunch with friends or trying to do some homework before heading home. Speaking of lunch, I normally have at least an hour for lunch every day, and I typically spend it either in the student lounge or the courtyard if it is a nice day.

The student lounge, complete with a kitchenette, seating, and a printer for our use.

I think the biggest difference in my daily routine here versus at Wofford is the commute. At Wofford, I could get from my dorm room to my classes in a five-minute walk. Here in London, I have to ride the tube to get anywhere, especially my classes. The total commute can take up to forty-five minutes, depending on rush hour, delays, or even line closures. Another big difference is the fact that each of my classes are only once a week. At Wofford, one typically has a class either every Monday/Wednesday/Friday, or another class on Tuesdays/Thursdays. I am not sure which structure I prefer, as both are very unique to each school and location. I am really enjoying my classes so far, and I am excited to see how the rest of the semester plays out!

London, at First Glance

It has nearly been two full weeks of being here in London, and already so much has happened! After flying across the pond and arriving at our residence, a mixture of jet lag, adrenaline, and excitement ensued as I began to settle into my home for the next three months.

Flying into London!

I’ll admit, upon arrival, I did have a few travel reservations, with being in an entirely new country and all. At first, I was a little bit hesitant about what the semester would hold, and I was worried my flight would get delayed or my luggage lost. None of this happened, and I seemed to make it over here all in one piece, so all was well on the travel end.

The days leading up to the start of this trip were definitely a rollercoaster of excitement as well as nerves, but while landing, my thoughts turned towards the upcoming semester, ranging from wondering what my classes would be like, to all the travel spots I want to hit, and even thoughts about all the cool restaurants I would find. It was hard to think too long about any of this, as my friends and I were quickly ushered through the Heathrow airport and hit the ground running with orientation meetings and welcome events as soon as we arrived to our residence.

The first couple of days definitely took some adjustments, as I was not only meeting so many new people, but also trying to figure out where necessary places were in relation to my housing, including the location of my classes, grocery stores, and interesting social spots.

A bird’s eye view of the city from the London Eye.

While I did not start classes the first week of arriving in London, I have already learned so much about being here and the London culture. London is a very fast-paced city, with everyone on the move and in a rush to get from point A to point B. Being in the big city and having to learn our way around has been a process that is surprisingly easier than it seems. The tube, similar to the subway system, is very efficient, easy to learn, and can take you anywhere you need to go. I have found that if you just act like you know what you are doing, it is far easier to adjust to this fast-paced lifestyle.

The bustling street where my classes are held, full of restaurants, shops, and hotels.

Another interesting aspect of the culture here revolves around the idea of “politeness” in comparison to the US interpretation of being polite. Back home, especially in the south, it is very normal to smile at people in passing, make small chit chat, and even compliment people on what we observe about them. Here, however, people are far more private and want to keep to themselves, especially in very public areas like the tube and walking down streets. It is not that British people are being rude if they do not return a smile or opt not to make small talk during interactions, but there is just a different perception of politeness here in London. This has been one of the many interesting observations that I have noticed in my short time here, and I look forward to exploring the London culture and experiences here. Until next time! 

See You Soon, London!

Pre-Departure Jitters

Hello! My name is Sydney Partin, and I am currently a junior Humanities major with a business minor here at Wofford! This fall, I will be studying abroad in London, England, and I cannot wait!

Ever since I could remember, I have dreamed of studying abroad, and it is hard to believe it is right around the corner. When deciding where to spend my semester abroad, I reflected on my previous trip to London several years ago. I fell in love with the city and have been itching to go back ever since, and what better way to return than studying there?  Deciding on the specific program was a bit more difficult, as each one offered really unique and interesting experiences. I eventually chose the IES Study London Program, which drew my attention as it not only allows me to take interesting classes that will apply towards my major, but also allows me to participate in a part-time internship while abroad.

With my departure only a few days away, my nerves for the upcoming semester are all too apparent. Although I have already completed two years of college away from home, being in another country adds a new level of jitters that I hope will dissolve once I am all settled in London. So many things have crossed my mind in the last few days – what if I miss a train and can’t figure out the tube system? What if my luggage gets lost? What if I need to call my mom about a minor inconvenience, and it is two in the morning back at home? All of these anxieties are to be expected with traveling alone for the first time.

Although I am nervous, however, my excitement definitely overshadows these nerves. I cannot wait to be in London and experience everything the city has to offer! I have been packing and getting everything ready, which has been an interesting process as I love to procrastinate. I am most excited to meet everyone in my program, as well as exploring London and other parts of Europe. Although somewhat cheesy, I believe this semester abroad will provide excellent opportunities for growth in areas such as independence, confidence, and broadening my horizons. I am very grateful for the opportunity to study abroad, especially in London, and I am so excited to see where this semester leads me!