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IES Abroad Study Abroad Programs in London
Becca is from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania and is currently studying Drama and English at Vassar College. She loves performing, singing, reading, and now cooking!
When: Spring of 2011
Morning: Every weekday morning, I woke up and got ready to go to school. Either on my way to the tube station, or near the Center, I would stop at either Cafe Nero or Pret A Manger and pick up a latte, porridge, and a banana. Then I would go to class. Once a week, I did a morning personal training session at the Chelsea Sports Center (I highly recommend it!). On days when I didn't have class, I would either sleep in, or get up and go sightseeing!
Afternoon: I only had classes three days a week, but on most of those days I had class in the afternoons. When I didn't, I had a lot of options. Sometimes I went to the gym, on the warmer days I would read in the park by our dorm, and then when I had a lot of free time, I went SHOPPING! We lived on King's Road, which has incredible shopping, and there was an Anthropologie store with a waterfall in it that I found very soothing.
Evening: The evenings were the best. I had never cooked for myself before, but found that I absolutely loved it! So I would cook dinner almost every night, sometimes with my friends, sometimes alone. After dinner, I would generally camp out in my room and do work, although sometimes we would do work in the common room with friends. Every Thursday, my theatre class would go see a show. Some weekends I would see shows by myself or with friends, and other nights I would go to a pub or club with my friends.
Highlights: I think the highlight of my trip, academically, was Marina Caldarone. She was the greatest teacher I have ever had in my life. She taught my performance class and my theatre industry class, and not only has she had an amazing amount of experience in the theatre world but she is also a great teacher and wonderful person. I know that my trip would not have been the same without her, and I think all my friends in the theatre program agree with me.
Of my overall experience, I think I would have to say that our trips to the markets were the best part. I had never been to anything like one of the markets before in my life, and my friends and I would just roam around and buy fresh produce and vintage clothing next door to each other. It was a great bonding time with my friends, and a cool cultural experience as well.
Heather is from Normal, Illinois and attends Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. She is 22 years old and studies Telecommunications. She is currently a full time student but will soon be graduating and working the Media production field.
Why did you choose to study abroad with IES?
Heather: I decided to study with IES because the program had a variety of classes that fulfilled requirements for my major as well as an internship opportunity. I wanted to make sure that I was still working towards my degree but I also wanted to have the chance to explore, and I feel that IES gave me that opportunity.
The internship part of the program also seemed ideal for work experience but also to help learn the culture I was going to be living in. The program also had great field trips planned for the students and I thought that having those would be a great way to learn how to travel abroad. Also, the reviews I had read about the program were also great so I decided that it was the one for me!
What was your favorite "slang" term that you picked up while abroad?
Heather: My favorite slang term in England was "quid." Small items like food or clothing accessories cost a couple of "quid." It means a couple of pounds, the British currency. It is pretty much the equivalent of an American saying it cost a couple of bucks. I really like it because I think it sounds weird but also because if it is in your vocabulary, it means you've really become a part of the culture. It is a term that you can hear someone say everywhere and on a daily basis.
If you could do-over one thing, what would it be?
Heather: If I could do over one thing it would be to give myself more free time. I had an internship two days a week and class three days a week. I only had a two day weekend to go outside of the country. While I really enjoyed getting to know London and the surrounding area in my free time during the week, it would have been nice to make it to mainland Europe more and explore more countries. It was my first time abroad so there was so much to see and do. I didn't get to do all of it because I ran out of time but at least I know what I want to do when I go back!
What was the highlight of your trip?
Heather: The highlight of my trip was definitely my internship. I worked for a company called Skylark Creative in London. I only went two days a week and I always looked forward to those days. My coworkers were such great people and gave me a lot of advice in what to see and do around the UK and London. I also got work experience in the field I am studying. My boss gave me the opportunity to explore film editing, copy editing for websites, and research for website design. It was a unique experience that I would not have found anywhere else.
Christine is from the Chicago suburbs and graduated from Elmhurst College in June of 2013. She majored in marketing and international business with minors in Spanish and Intercultural studies.
Why did you decide to study abroad with IES?
Christine: I chose IES because not many study abroad programs allow students to have the opportunity to have an internship abroad. The program I chose, fit my schedule well since I am a collegiate athlete and have various leadership roles within the organizations I am a part of as well. The IES staff was also extremely helpful in getting me ready for my departure and the London IES staff was also helpful once there. The program was phenomenal and I would recommend IES to anyone wanting to study abroad.
What was the best place you visited outside London?
Christine: I really enjoyed going to Edinburgh, Scotland and Cambridge.
What is one piece of advice you'd give future IES-London students?
Christine: I would make sure you pack accordingly to the weather. Summer is colder than you think and yes, it is true, it rains quite often. Making a bucket list of things you want to do during your time abroad is also a good idea. I guarantee that people from your program will want to do some of the same things you want to do and you should also be open to their ideas as well.
Describe your program socially and academically.
Christine: Academically, I attend one class one Fridays at the IES Centre about leadership. We learned about interacting with different cultures at the workplace and discussed our experiences at our internships as well. The other four days of the week, I went to my internship at the Royal Academy of Arts. My workplace was very diverse and I enjoyed everyone I worked with and felt that the experience I got there will carry over into my future career. Outside of work and class, I hung out with the 16 other people in my program. We all became as close as a family within a week. Even our professors were shocked at how close we were by our first class. I still talk to most of the people in my program quite often. We traveled around Europe together and even just within the city of London itself. There was always someone to hangout with and always something to do somewhere within London.
Christine: I think my favorite souvenir is the mini Olympic Torch I purchased. The reason for this is because not only were the Olympics happening around the time I was there, but when I went to Cambridge, I had a chance to hold one of the actual Olympic Torches.
Laura is from Rock Hill, South Carolina and studied literature in London, England in the spring of 2012. She is currently a senior studying English at Wofford College in South Carolina and enjoys reading, hiking, and exploring new places.
What was a highlight of your trip?
Laura: There were so many great things about studying abroad in London that it's hard to choose one highlight. Academically, the highlight of my trip was visiting the British Library and seeing many original manuscripts of my favorite British classics like Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, or Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll. As an English major, that was a really special experience. Overall, the highlight of my study abroad experience would have to be the IES field trip to Scotland. My family is originally from Scotland, so it was really special for me to be able to experience my heritage first hand and visit the towns that my clan is from! We traveled all over the country and visited Edinburgh, Inverness, and many other small towns in Scotland. We took a boat trip on Loch Ness, hiked in the highlands, and played with reindeer in the Cairngorm Mountains. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.
Describe your typical morning.
Laura: My typical morning when I was at IES London usually included classes, a different one each day that lasted two and a half hours. On those days, I started off my morning by grabbing a cup of coffee or hot tea and a croissant from my favorite bakery across the street from my residence hall, then taking the Tube or the bus from Chelsea to the IES Centre. The rest of my morning was filled with lively class discussion and interesting lectures. Depending on the day, I might be watching adaptations of Shakespeare works, learning about London's medieval history, or discussing today's most renowned British authors. On the mornings that I didn't have class, I usually spent my time catching up on my reading in Hyde Park or going on runs with my roommate around our neighborhood.
What about your afternoons?
Laura: My afternoons were similar to my mornings most days. I spent three of five afternoons in class, most of which included fun field trips to the many museums and historic sites around London. I ate lunch with my classmates in the lounge of the IES Centre, and then we would meet up with our professors in Central London to tour sites like the Museum of London, The British Library, and the National Portrait Gallery. In my architecture class, we spent many afternoons taking guided walks through the boroughs of London and putting our knowledge into practice with impromptu quizzes about the types of architecture we saw. On the afternoons that I didn't have class, I spent time visiting museums, shopping, and exploring parts of London recommended by our professors.
Laura: My typical evening included going to the grocery store, making dinner with my roommate, and finishing my homework assignments. Many nights, I had the opportunity to experience the theatre in London, seeing many famous musicals like Wicked, Jersey Boys, Singin' in the Rain, and Ghost the Musical. My classmates and I would often go to one of the pubs around our residence hall and listen to some live music. We would also hang out the University of London Union, called ULU, and mingle with some local British students. London is a beautiful city to explore at all times of the day, but it looks magical when all of the buildings light up at sunset. Exploring the Westminster and Whitehall area of London after sunset is also something fun that my friends and I did.
Jaclyn is from Stamford, Connecticut and currently lives in London, England. She enjoys British culture, Harry Potter, and anything to do with Disney and/or Pixar.
What was the highlight of your trip?
Jaclyn: Becoming a part of the life in London was the best part of my trip. I made an effort to get to know British students rather than just the Americans on my programme -- and that made all the difference. I truly felt like an undergraduate at a London university. (The whole having an American accent that people here think is so fascinating was just a bonus). Getting to know the people and the culture was the highlight for me.
Describe your typical morning?
Jaclyn: A typical morning would start with a shower in the en suite before making breakfast in the shared kitchen in halls. I would catch up on some reading or coursework. I would then head over to City - a 5 to 10 minute walk. Then I would attend my first lecture of the day, typically a large lecture taking about two hours. I would grab lunch with some friends at either the canteen on campus or a local cafe or pub.
What about your afternoons?
Jaclyn: After lunch I would attend my second lecture of the day. This was usually a smaller discussion group split off from the morning lecture where we would break down the material and focus on smaller assignments. This was where I was able to get to know people better, as the classes were 15-20 people rather than the 150-200 that were in the larger lecture.
Chelsea: After dropping off my work at home, I would get ready for the evening. After making dinner (and sometimes pregaming) in the shared kitchen, my friends and I would head out to either a pub or a club for the night. As the tube closes at 1am, we would try to make it sort of early. If that failed, navigating the night buses was always fun.
Alex Katz is a Virginia native living in Chicago, IL. He recently graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Arts, Entertainment and Media Management. Alex's passion is music. He works as a musician, concert promoter, and even a freelance writer, reviewing albums and concerts.
Why did you decide to study abroad with IES?
Alex: There are a lot of options to choose from when researching study abroad. In my case, IES seemed like the best fit. First off, their six week program was one of the longest offered for a summer semester. London is an amazing city with so much to offer. Also, as an English speaker, London is a very easy place to assimilate to. I knew that the longer I could stay, the better.
Secondly, their courses really stood out to me. Rather than offering standard courses that I could take at my school in the U.S., IES's courses actually helped to enrich the travel experience. I took Medieval London, which helped to give me a historical perspective on the city, and British Youth Culture, which focused on the music and art scenes in London from the 1950s to present day. These two courses, in conjunction with one another taught me a great deal about London's past and present. Other notable courses focused on London's architecture and its theatre.
Third, the living arrangements were spectacular. Nido Spitalfields, where I stayed, was nicer than any other dorm that I've seen. It had a full kitchen and rooms that weren't too small. Most importantly, it was in a great location. We were right next to Liverpool Street Station, which can take you just about anywhere in the city. It was also in between Brick Lane and Shoreditch, which are two very hip neighborhoods that cater to young people.
What made this study abroad experience unique and special?
Alex: This experience was special in many ways. The courses were some of the best that I've had throughout college. My professors, Richard Weight and Julian Putkowski were so passionate about the subjects that they taught that their excitement was infectious. They were available to chat outside of the classroom, and made a point to suggest things to do in our free time.
Speaking of free time, we had a lot of it. Most days, I went to markets, explored new neighborhoods, and sampled different food and drinks. The nightlife was amazing. On any given night, I could go to a pub, bar, or club, catch on live band, or go see a DJ.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Alex: This experience really opened my eyes to the world beyond my city. It's given me a serious desire to travel and explore. It taught me that I can go anywhere and be myself.
About IES Abroad
Their Roots: IES Abroad was co-founded by Paul Koutny, an Austrian student who had moved to the US on a Fulbright scholarship in 1950. While there, he envisioned a future built on a peace that grew from the lessons learned while studying abroad. He rallied 21 other friends and the crew hopped on the SS Volendam headed for a year of studies in Vienna. Feeling inspired by their own experience in Austria, IES Abroad alums Clarence and Alberta Giese immediately began helping send future groups of students abroad. Before they knew it, 60 years had passed, and IES Abroad remains a longstanding and exemplary study abroad option for students today.
Their Quest: "IES Abroad strives to provide premier study abroad programs for U.S. students that deliver the highest quality education while simultaneously promoting development of intercultural competence."