London. Exchange. 2014-2015
When I first arrived here at 5 AM, I felt as if I had made a horrible mistake. I had no idea where I was exactly, the journey had been dreadful, my room looked like a cubicle and I didn’t know anyone. Thankfully, about two months later now, I can say that I definitely don’t feel like that any more. Coming to London has been one of the, if not THE, best choices of my life. I met some amazing people both in my hall of residence and in my classes and have seen so many things around here that I would never have been able to experience on a regular holiday. But honestly, I still feel like I’m on a vacation here. My hall of residence is actually used as a hostel in the summer, so the rooms are all structured like that. My room is on the tenth floor, providing me with the most amazing view of London (read: I can see London Eye, the Shard and St Paul’s Cathedral from my window). Besides my dreamy view, I live with five other girls on my side of the floor, with whom I share a kitchen. They are all study abroad students as well, so we often go out together to explore London.
What I like most about the study-related part of being here is that the classes are all so different from the ones at home. My university, the University of Westminster, offers a wide range of subjects that I could choose from. I settled for two linguistics courses that look at literature and two creative writing courses. So far I can say that my favourite course is one of my creative writing courses, and my least favourite is the other creative writing course, ironically. If you’re not really interested in creative writing, the university also offers a lot of UK-based linguistic courses (looking at Scottish dialects for example) and multiple literature courses (reading Gothic, gender, modernism, modern British theatre). What is especially interesting as an exchange student are the courses that are based on London, such as a course on photography or theatre in London.
What I dislike about being an exchange student, and I’ve noticed that this happens in Groningen as well, is that foreign students often have trouble connecting with local students. However, with some effort, I now have a small number of British friends that can tell me what places I should definitely check out while I’m here (and they’re completely right about them!). So if you decide to go abroad, which you should, try to make a few local friends that can tell you what places have cheap offers, good food, or are generally worth checking out.
Finally, I think everyone will benefit from a semester or a year abroad, as it helps you grow as a student and as a person. I’ve met so many amazing friends here that I know I will still talk to in three years (even though most of them are from the States), it has helped me develop my own personality and made me more independent and structured. So, as my last words I would like to say that if you are in doubt whether to go abroad or not, go! If you end up really regretting your decision (which you will not, I’m sure), don’t worry, you will be back in no time. I absolutely love London and see it as my second home now. I have to leave this gorgeous place in two months again but I’ll definitely find a way to come back here because I am not nearly ready to say goodbye!