Studying abroad in London was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I chose this program because I wanted a program with a health focus. I want to be a physician assistant, and this program had numerous qualities that I thought would be helpful towards that endeavor. It's important to note that this program is focused on public health. I found this to be interesting because, as a biology major, I had never really been exposed to different healthcare systems and other public health topics. The classes I took were Social Welfare Policy, Comparative Healthcare Systems, Health and Disease (the Oxford class, which is basically an epidemiology course), and Architecture as an elective. The two IES Health Practice and Policy classes (Social Welfare and Comparative Healthcare) were good, and should be even better in the future since they are working on better coordinating the course curriculums to provide a more cohesive program structure. The Health and Disease course was also okay, but the long commute every Friday was a bit of a bear. I absolutely loved Architecture as my elective course, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to see as much of London as possible.
As part of the Social Welfare Policy class, I had an internship/service placement at a breast cancer charity in London. While I was hoping for a placement that allowed me a little more clinical contact, I was still abel to interact with patients in the office which was nice.
Overall, living in London is absolutely incredible. I'm from the Midwest and had never lived in a cosmopolitan city like London before. Not only is London one of the most iconic cities in the world, but there are also amazing cultural opportunities that can't be found anywhere else. I discovered a love for theatre and art that I didn't know I had before. Everything from seeing Van Gogh's self portrait at the Somerset House to winning discount ticket to The Book of Mormon created an amazing experience I will never forget. The residence hall, Nido, is located just a few blocks from King's Cross station, which means it is super each to get around to any part of the city. The Nido dorms are pretty standard dorms, but you get a private bathroom to share with your roommate, and there is a kitchen on each floors that can be used to make your own food. IES also offers a ton of events to see more of London, like a walking tour of London including a ride on the London Eye, a boat trip to Greenwich, an authentic football match, and a tour of Harry Potter Studios. You can pick what you're interested in and participate for free or an extremely reduced rate. There are also field trips around England and the surrounding areas; for example, I went on trips to Stonehenge, Bath, Salisbury, and Cambridge thanks to IES and their subsidized field trips.
At the end of the program, we went on a ten-day field study in Kingston, Jamaica. This was the part of the program with the most clinical components, which I really enjoyed. Observing in the clinics was really interesting, and we saw everything from standard vitals (blood pressure, weight, urinalysis, etc) to post-natal exams (6 week old babies getting their checkups) and wound dressings. We also had some interesting lectures at the University of the West Indies School of Nursing, where we learned about the history of nursing in Jamaica as well as the role of natural and holistic healing to the healthcare culture. Please keep in mind that Kingston is a lot different than London. There was a significant amount of street harassment, etc, that would occur whenever we went into the city. I was kind of unprepared for that, and it was very uncomfortable when in contained areas like the clinic where it was hard to get away from harassing people. However, we always traveled in groups and so there were never any real safety concerns.
Overall, I learned so much over the course of this semester, and I recommend this program to people who have an interest in healthcare--especially those interested in a public health perspective.