I’ve officially made it to London and have been living here since September 29th! So much has happened in such a short time, I am fully moved into my flat, lectures started October 7th, and I have completed many of the administrative tasks necessary for being abroad (such as acquiring an Oyster card to ride the tube). To organize this post, I decided to focus on three main topics: my flat, courses, and extracurriculars.
As far as housing is concerned, I am very happy with my situation. I am in a wonderful part of the city, close to campus, theatres, and numerous cafes. I live with four flatmates, though I have my own room. Two of the flatmates are General Course students like myself and the other two are post grads. I’ve loved getting to know them all, and I really enjoy their company. With them I share a bathroom, shower, and kitchen. Below are some photos of my flat and our shared kitchen:
Lectures just started at LSE on October 7th, so I’ve had an entire week of them. Classes don’t start until weeks 2 or 3 of the term and this is to create a “shopping period” where you’re encouraged to visit many lectures and then select your four for the year. There is a distinction between lectures and classes. In lectures there is almost no interaction between the instructor and the pupils, but it is a time to absorb information from the professor. But because these lectures are larger and impersonal, there are also classes for each course. These classes consist of smaller groups of students and an instructor, and it’s in these sessions where we have discussions amongst the group. Unlike at US universities, courses at LSE run for the full year and almost the entirety of the final grade depends on an exam at the end of the year. This structure creates a lot of self-discipline to ensure you prepare yourself regularly instead of waiting until the end. My courses for the year are as follows:
GV225 Public Choice and Politics
During a lecture, the professor described this as the biggest fusion between Economics and Politics offered at the London School of Economics and Political Science (notice the name, eh?). This excited me as I think the two disciplines are inherently linked, and we get to further explore this concept throughout the year.
GV264 Politics and Institutions of Europe
This seems like a very interesting lecture because of those teaching it. Since the course focuses on different areas of Europe almost every week, we get a new lecturer who is an expert in the field for every topic we discuss.
GV262 Contemporary Political Theory
This was the first lecture I went to and also probably my favorite, the structure seems practical and interesting as the first term focuses on various political theories while the second one applies these theories to real life debates/discussions.
GV263 Public Policy Analysis
This class focuses on the challenges, benefits, and negatives to public policy. The lecturer was very engaged with the topic and real life application is again a focus, as we will examine contemporary policy in the course.
During orientation LSE held “Freshers Fair” which is essentially the equivalent to club fairs in the US. I signed up for a few societies (clubs are called societies in England) but so far have been most involved with the hockey team. Better known as field hockey in the US, hockey is very popular for both boys and girls in the UK. I attended trials and made their first team as goalkeeper! I used to play from middle to high school so I’m thrilled to be a part of a team again. Plus, the schedule is very manageable to balance with schoolwork. We have practices on Tuesdays and then games on Wednesday. However, because of LSE’s central London location we must take the tube roughly 20 minutes away to get to the field (or “pitch” as it is known in the UK).
Overall, I am loving London. It’s a beautiful city with its own personality and I can’t wait to get to know it better. I hope this blog is helpful for any other Americans considering spending time in England, and I will continue to add notes of the cultural differences I encounter. So far, it has mostly been relevant to vocabulary, as is reflected in this post.