Academics in London

Let’s talk about what the academics are like across the pond here in London! I am a double major in Biology and English and am enrolled in the London Health Practice and Policy program through IES. I take one class every day Monday-Thursday and have no class on Fridays!! Yay! I also have an internship that I work at once a week on Wednesdays. Each class I have is a 3 hour course, so it is long, but it is so nice to have only one class a day. As far as what my classes are like, I love them! Each course I am taking is transferring back to Wofford and going towards both of my majors. I am taking 3 courses that are Biology credits and one that is an English credit. At Wofford, my Bio classes are very heavy in homework, reading, quizzes, and exams. However, here, they are much more focused on class discussions, group projects, and presentations. This has given me a new way to view topics in Biology and health. This is the same case for my English class as well. We have lots of group projects and field trips, which are so fun! The English course I am taking is all about Shakespeare, which is fitting, as I am in London! I got the chance to see where Shakespeare was born and raised, and, soon, I will get to see one of his plays performed in his very own Globe Theatre. I am so excited!

I have truly learned so much in the short time that I have been here, both in and outside of the classroom. Perhaps some of the greatest lessons I have learned here have been outside of the classroom! That is the greatest blessing of studying abroad. I learn new things every day; things about the city, about the culture and traditions, and most importantly, I learn things about myself. I am excited to return back to Wofford and see my favorite professors, but I will miss how comfortable and open the classroom environment here in London has been. I hope to bring everything that I have learned here back to the states with me and can’t wait to see what I can teach others through my experience here.

Cheers! Riley

A Typical Day in London!

So, what does a normal day in London look like for me?

I have class Monday-Thursday, so this is what a typical week day would look like!

  • Wake up and get ready for the day!
  • Eat a little breakfast in my room.
  • Grab a coffee from Pret on my way to the tube station. (Pret is a very popular coffee and breakfast chain here in the UK).
  • Take the tube to class!
  • My classes all normally last 2.5-3 hours.
  • Get out of class and grab lunch with my friends, Megan and Ellie. We will either stop at a cafe or go back home and make something together.
  • My free time is normally dedicated to homework, taking walks around the city, reading in a cafe, shopping, exploring museums or art galleries, going to Camden Market (it is a short walk away from my housing), or just hanging out with my friends.
  • I normally choose to cook dinner during the week, but on weekends we will go out to dinner. Pub food is actually really delicious!
  • After dinner plans are normally dependent on the day – sometimes we end the night with gelato and sometimes we don’t. Hehe we have a shop really close to us, and, at this point, I think they know our orders by heart.

And that is way a typical day in my life in London looks like! Of course, it could look different depending on the day, but this is a pretty good outline. The time seems to move faster over here, so I try to fill my days with as much fun and exploring as possible. I hope this inspires whoever is reading this to get the most out of every day, whether here in the UK or not. 🙂

What I have learned so far

Hi, again, everybody! I have been a little MIA recently due to midterms, traveling, and just life in general. But I have been doing great! It is officially March, which is insane! My time abroad has flown by just like I knew it would. Here are some of the things that I have learned in my time thus far..

  • Public transportation is a blessing and the tube gets easier to navigate with time.
  • It does not rain as much as you think it does in London.
  • Coffee is superior to tea in the mornings, but tea is the perfect afternoon pick-me-up.
  • For some reason, the flowers are prettier here. I buy them often to make my room feel more homey.
  • The produce tastes wayyyy better and the grocery stores are quite nice.
  • You will not find a Chick-Fil-A or Bojangles here, much to my dismay. But you definitely will find a Taco Bell or KFC.
  • Nobody bothers you if you don’t bother them. The British are actually very polite and helpful (contrary to popular American belief).
  • The British love an American accent. They will ask you to say random words.
  • Free coffee from Pret-A-Manger is a must when in the UK.
  • The dogs here wear sweaters!!!
  • Nando’s chicken does live up to the hype.

Of course this list is just a short summary of some of the things I’ve learned while being here in London. This list also doesn’t take into account all of the things I have learned about myself while abroad. I have truly discovered things about myself that I would have never learned otherwise. This has been the perfect chance to celebrate my independence and individuality, as well as my strength. Like with every part of life, this experience has certainly had its ups and downs. I miss my family, my friends, my dogs, my professors at Wofford, and etc. There have been moments where I have really wanted a hug from my Mom, but can’t get one. It is not all sunshine and rainbows, but it is worth it. Every second that I have spent here has been growing and building me into the person I want to become. My mind has expanded and experienced learning like never before. It truly has been a blessing to be in London, and I can’t wait to watch myself flourish even more. My friends and I have many trips planned for the upcoming weeks, so I will keep the blog updated with my stories!


Riley DeLavan

Life in London So Far!

Hi, again, everyone! I cannot believe it is already February! Somehow, the time seems to move faster over here in the UK. I have been here for about three-ish weeks now, and I have enjoyed every second! My time here got off to a rocky start at the very beginning, with me having to self-isolate for the first five days of being here. However, it made me want to explore and adventure even more once I got out of quarantine! So, that is exactly what my friends and I have been doing.

Like I said earlier, the start of my stay here got off to a rough little start. However, when I was isolated those first few days, I had time to think, reflect upon, and process all of the feelings and nerves I had about being in a whole new country. I made lists of places I wanted to visit, sights I wanted to see, and, of course, the coffee spots I had to try while here. I think being in quarantine helped me to sort out all of the craziness that was happening in my head. I definitely had many concerns and reservations about leaving Wofford, my family, and friends for an entire semester – so this time to myself allowed me to truly process everything. I was able to find comfort in the fact that this semester might just be the best opportunity that I’ve ever had to really discover myself. Here, I could buy flowers on street corners and sit in coffee shops for hours on end, I could visit Buckingham Palace and then wander through the streets of Soho, I could shop at high-end thrift stores and then end the day with a yummy almond croissant or some chocolate gelato. My point is, that the freedom I feel here, studying abroad, is unlike anything I have ever experienced before.

I am going to include one of my favorite photos of life in London, so far. I hope you all enjoy the pictures, and I can’t wait to share more about my experiences soon. Cheers!

Embracing Uncertainty

The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.

Tony Robbins

Hello, everyone! And welcome to this little corner of the internet that is my blog. To begin, I will give you all some information about myself. Though this list may not be very interesting to you, I think it will help you understand a little bit more about me and how I got to where I am now (which, btw, is cuddled in my bed at home, typing this post the night before I begin the greatest adventure of my life thus far). So, without further ado…

  • My name is Riley DeLavan and I am currently a junior at Wofford College.
  • When I am not at Wofford, I am at home in Sumter, SC with my parents, little brother, Landon, and two weenie dogs, Max and Jase. (Mom I know you’ll see this, so hi and I miss you already).
  • I just celebrated my 21st birthday on December 31st.
  • I absolutely love my friends and family with my whole heart.
  • You can often find me hunkered down in Milliken with a study room and LARGE cup of coffee.
  • I am severely addicted to caffeine, specifically ones of the Sweet Cream Coldbrew type at Starbucks hehe 🙂
  • I am an avid online shopper, Netflix binger, and book reader. I also love going to the movies.
  • I will admit that I am a nerd when it comes to Star Wars.
  • I am studying abroad this semester in London, England through IES’s Health Practice and Policy Program.
  • And lastly, I love the app Pinterest (a little 2013-ish I know).

In fact, that quote above is one I found when surfing through the app today. It stuck out to me immediately because it contains a word that encapsulates how I have been feeling for the past few weeks. Uncertain. Tomorrow, I leave to study in London for a little over three months. The funny thing is, though, I have NEVER been out of the country (except if you count a cruise that I went on with my family that made a brief stop in the Bahamas). I have never been on an airplane or even seen the inside of an airport. So, to say that I have been filled with a kind of uncertainty for the last few weeks is a grand understatement. So, why did I decide to embark on this crazy new journey?

Well, I always knew that I wanted to travel. I mean, who doesn’t? But this longing to see the world was actually one of the biggest reasons that I chose to attend Wofford. I knew at some point that Wofford would help me achieve this goal. And I thought I was going to achieve it when I signed up for an interim trip abroad to Belize during my sophomore year. However, life and Covid-19 had other plans for me. I was saddened that I couldn’t go, but I figured I could try again. I signed up for another interim trip that was supposed to travel to Israel this interim, and, sadly, that trip got cancelled. So, I set up a meeting with the International Programs office to see what other options I had, if any. After that meeting this past September, I knew that I’d soon be heading to London. After learning about the Health Practice and Policy Program, I was hooked. I am a Biology and English double-major and this meant that I could go abroad for the whole semester and still have all the credits necessary for graduation. I quickly called my parents to ask them what they thought, and, without hesitation, they both responded yes.

So, after that, I told all of my friends and began to prepare. Time moved by quickly and now I am sitting in my room, staring at the mess I have made while trying to fit my life into one big suitcase and two carry ons. This whole process has been uncertain – I was uncertain that I’d be accepted to the program, uncertain that my family and friends would support this last-minute decision, uncertain that I’d be capable of living life outside of my comfort bubble in the United States, and lastly, uncertain that I’d be prepared when the time came to leave. In less than 48 hours, I will officially be in London and to be honest with you, I do not quite feel ready or prepared. But somehow, I have learned to be at peace with this sort of uncertainty. I am excited to share all of my soon-to-come adventures with you and hope that you bear with me as I learn to embrace uncertainty and begin to find comfort in the uncomfortable.

Cheers, for now! (And please pray that I don’t get too lost in the airport)

Riley DeLavan