Being an LSE student is so much more than just studying. It is not easy to know what to expect, especially if you are an international student both new to the university and to London. As a now seasoned LSE student, here is the advice I wish someone had given me before I started LSE.
1.Everyone feels like an idiot the first week
The first few weeks will be chaotic and overwhelming. You spend all your time with people you just met; having lectures about stuff you do not understand yet and trying not to get lost in London. Everyone else seems calm, composed and intellectual, while you pray silently that the professor will not ask you a question. This is what my first few weeks at LSE were like, and as I really got to know people it turns out they all felt the same way.
2.Don’t worry about speaking English
With more than 150 countries represented on campus, you are not going to be the only one with an accent. To me it seems more rare to hear someone speak perfect English – even the professors have accents. The diverse nationalities create a unique atmosphere and bring richness to the learning environment. You will get to know people from all over the world with different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences than you, and it is all part of being an LSE student.
3.Don’t waste time
Though many people told me that a yearlong MSc would go quickly, I had no idea it would feel this short. You will learn more in one semester than you thought was possible, and constantly be exposed to new things. Don’t put off studying or going to lectures – there will be no time to make up for it (trust me). Before you know it you’re halfway through your second semester, like I am now. This means you will not always have time to familiarise yourself with all aspects of your curriculum, and that’s fine. Concentrate on what you are interested in, and start thinking about your dissertation early.
4.Make time for other things than reading
Though MSc students are pressed for time, it is worth making time to do things outside the lecture theatres and the library. You can choose from hundreds of societies, clubs and volunteering opportunities, or start something yourself if you have a good idea. Public lectures are also a great opportunity to listen to people who are leading in their field. Lecturers include Nobel Prize winners, world leaders and pioneers. For me, attending public lectures have been some of my most valuable experiences, as they have helped me understand how the theory of my studies relate to challenges in real life.
5.Go to the pub*
Nothing is better than going to the pub with friends after a long week of studying, giving your brain some much needed time off. There are several nice pubs within walking distance of campus, but George IV is a beloved watering hole among LSE students. Come Friday night, it is absolutely packed with student dying to discuss something else than theory. A wonderful chance to get to know students from other programmes. After all, the highlight of being an LSE student is getting to know lots of inspiring, intelligent and interesting people.
6.Get to know the professors
In many undergrad degrees, the lectures are very large and students rarely get to know the professors well. At LSE, this is totally different, and from the very first week you will get to know the professors in an informal setting. You will also be encouraged to book office hours and most of them will want you to address them by their first name – some will even come with you to the pub (see number 5)!
*Don’t worry if you don’t drink alcohol, non-alcoholic options are available!