Dear Prospective LSE Student.
Would you like to know what I did this week? Well you’re here and reading, despite the deeply uninspiring title captioning this post, so I assume you want to find out. I congratulate your temerity at making it this far! In return, I promise I won’t exaggerate – I’ll tell you exactly what I did this week, no embellishments (
just a couple of ommissions). If you explode with jealousy around about Tuesday, I think you know which school you want to come to.
Saturday: International Organisations Day. A gigantic careers fair organised by the LSE for LSE students, Oxbridgers and a select few from other unis. The Day brings together speakers and reps from various UN departments (UNDP, UNICEF, etc.); the EU; the World Bank; the African Development Bank; the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development; the ICRC; the ICD (Islamic Development Bank); the International Finance Corporation; the ILO; the International Organisation for Migration; the OECD and the WHO. The morning involves general introductions to working in the sector, including very insightful advice from one of my countrymen on image management. Facial tattoos don’t help with getting jobs in conservative institutions, it turns out. In the afternoon there are more intimate presentations from the various bodies. We are told all about how brilliant the organisations are, the work they do and the employment benefits they offer. We’re also told bluntly how competitive graduate positions are: 45,000 applications to 700 EU positions; 75,000 applications to 700 UNDP positions, SAT-style competence testing, a minimum of two years working experience, three languages…etc etc. But we are also made aware of one of our massive competitive advantages – that we’re at the LSE, that we’re getting reputable degrees and exposure to some of the world’s top academics, researchers and professionals. In all, it is a very sobering experience. Unsurprisingly therefore, we go to the pub.
Sunday: Completely sleep deprived. Saturday nights, unlike my job prospects, do not disappoint. A friend and I head out to my cousin’s place in East London for a home-cooked meal. Chicken, greens, potatoes, stuffing and Golden Syrup pudding. Yum-o. (Hint: if you don’t have relatives or close family friends in London, I suggest you find some pre-departure. These are an irreplaceable source of food, warmth and washing machines.)
Monday: An a.m. gym-session to begin my week as virtuously as I mean it to continue. Meet my study group at 1pm at the Fourth Floor Cafe (alternatively known as ‘my other living room’) to prepare for South-East Asian discussions the next day. We discover restrictive laws concerning motorbike ownership in Vietnam lead to a watershed constitutional debate about private property rights. Inspiring stuff! In the p.m., a friend from Australia who is on gap yah comes to check out the uni (and by ‘uni’, I mean the George IV). Pub grub.
Tuesday: My big class day – I have a lecture on anti-corruption efforts in Indonesia followed by a seminar on democratisation trends in Vietnam before lunch, and then a lecture on the conflict in Northern Ireland followed by a seminar on Counter-Insurgency efforts. At 16:30 my brain implodes and half my class forcibly migrates to the pub.
Wednesday: Ridiculously enjoyable sleep-in. I love being a student. Lecture followed by lunch at the Fleet River Bakery. This magical place has Melbourne-style coffee and properly good sandwiches, as well as WiFi which means we stay there for the rest of the afternoon to study. In p.m. attend a film screening of ‘Restrepo’, a confronting film about the realities of counter-insurgency efforts in Afghanistan. Our lecturer moves the post-film discussion – inevitably – to the pub.
Thursday: Morning seminar on the political economy of conflict. Decide that everything is self-evident, and realise that I can only say that because I’ve done the readings. Immeasurably proud of my academic efforts this week. Meet Irish friends at… you guessed it, the pub.
The barman at George IV probably knows my social security number by now. He certainly knows my drink order. I reiterate, ladies and gentlemen, do not underestimate the value of a good pub. You don’t necessarily go there to drink, it’s more of a central meeting place. Like the market square in the Middle Ages. Or a watering hole for animals in the Savannah. The George IV is particularly popular with all of us not just because of the quaint Victorian decor and the central location but because you can pay there on your Squid card – so it makes you feel like you’re not even spending any money! An all-round winner.
Friday: Finally make a start on the two essays I have due in the next two weeks. In the p.m. have friends over for a Gin&Tonic session followed by dinner at our local Thai restaurant. In all, six nationalities are represented around the table, but we are united by our love of London, the weight of our loans, the fear of our joblessness and the love of our uni.
And then we all go to the pub.