Alan in London

Alan, a junior from Austin Texas, is majoring in economics and foreign language. He is spending the 2006-07 school year studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Read more from Alan in London

The Year is Done

It is now less than a month before I leave London. I have just finished with my final exams for the year, which is the reason why it has taken me awhile to submit another entry. Like I said before, the school year here is separated into 3 semesters, of which the last is mostly about preparing for exams. Exam preparation is intense and LSE allots an entire semester to this. For LSE students, these exams count for 100% of their grade for the entire year. That’s right, 12 hours of testing (3 hours per test), determines their grade for a whole year. The library becomes packed with students studying from the morning until the evening. There are times where one cannot find a single study space in the entire library. Needless to say, studying for exams has been a completely different experience compared with SMU. However, despite the difficulties and the long nights, I have to say that it has been a great experience. I feel that at LSE, you learn not only the material in your courses, but you also learn a different way of how to focus your studies and how to maximize your time. After spending a lot of time in the library, it is nice to finally be able to sleep in and not worry about finding a study space when you get to the library. I still have a few weeks left before I leave London and there are still many things to do and see.

UNIQUELY LONDON
In the weeks ahead, providing good weather, I am hoping to enjoy London to its fullest extent. There are certain things that are just not possible in Texas. For example, going to Trafalgar Square in the evening to watch the sunset over Big Ben and then enjoying a live broadcast of the Royal Ballet performing Swan Lake as the fountains light up. Or, you can go on a short cruise on the River Thames that takes you through the heart of London and even to the spectacle of Canary Wharf at night. Actually, today was the first day that I have worn shorts since I came to London. It took me awhile to find them in my luggage.

For the upcoming weeks, I will be headed to Greece and Turkey to see some of the most historic places in Europe and Asia. In addition, I am hoping to go to Wimbledon this year, seeing some of the best tennis players on the historic lawns of Wimbledon.

AN EXPERIENCE TO REMEMBER
Since my exams have now ended, I have had more time to reflect on my year abroad in London. No matter how much I think about it, I always reach the same conclusion: that it has been a phenomenal year. Before I came, I spoke with others who had done the program before and one of the things they stressed was that this year was not just about academics, that it was a year to become more independent, a year to meet people from all over the world, and a year to simply experience being abroad. They told me that this year will expand your horizons and that when you return to the United States, you will be a different person. It was difficult to fathom what that meant back in late September, but now, I realize just how true their statements were. I was sitting down to dinner last night with a group of friends that I met on my first day here. I looked around the table and marvelled at how every single person had a different life story. No two people had the same experiences, even those of us from the United States had very different backgrounds. Half of the education here is speaking with these people, listening to their views, and allowing yourself the opportunity to open yourself to their opinions and knowledge. It is this experience that is so difficult to measure but that has also made this year one to remember for a lifetime.

Until next time, cheers!

Share this story:

    About James VanDyke

    EA-AlumniRel()
    This entry was posted in Alan in London. Bookmark the permalink.