Monday, March 01, 2010

Anna P. - London, England - Spring 2010

I’ve been in London for a little over a month now and I have been loving every minute of it. I have done so much since I’ve gotten here, but I still feel like I have a million things left to do. To start at the beginning, my advice is to prepare yourself as much as you can for your arrival. Obviously know where you’re going to stay, in my case it was my program's residence hall, and know how you are getting there. In my case, I even bought my Heathrow express ticket in the US and printed it so all I had to do was walk on the train. Then I had to take a cab from the train station. This is when it is important to have foreign currency with you. In fact I HIGHLY recommend getting a lot of money in the new currency while in the US, many banks give you the straight conversion and don’t charge any fees (I used Chase). I haven’t had to use any ATMs(called cashpoints in London) since I’ve been here since I use my credit card as often for payment. I have a Capital One credit card; I suggest anybody going abroad get one. With any other card you’re going to be charged 1-7% from Visa, Amex, etc. and in addition, a couple of percentage points from your bank, whereas Capital One charges a 1% fee, in other words they eat the fee of Mastercard or Visa. Plus, many of these cards have cash back too. Anyhow, after you plan how you’re getting to point A make sure you don’t have any really tight windows. I think it is really important to be relaxed when you get there, take your time get your bearings and start soaking it in. I had a enormous amount of luggage (still don’t feel like I over packed at all though, only thing I took too much of was dress clothes) and was able to handle it very well since I never rushed myself. I took extra time if I wasn’t sure, asked questions and was okay being one of the last people to get my luggage. When it came time to get a cab, I was upfront. I’m new to this and just gave the taxi driver the printed address of where I needed to go (I suppose this approach works better in some countries then others). I took a 3 hour nap after I got there, forced myself to wake up and didn’t go to bed till 9 that evening (btw I got in at 6:30am).

I haven’t really felt culture shock yet (since I am sure you will have to ask us a question on it), if anything I have skipped to being sad that I am leaving soon already. I miss all my family, friends and my boyfriend, but I’ve never been sad about it and there is not one bit of me that has longed to be home. Like I said, I think now I am just worried I am going to run out of time here. So far I have walked around the city numerous times, gone to a few museums (they are mostly free like D.C. which is awesome). I've been to Stonehenge, seen an African Scops Owl, been to Oxford and saw the Hogwarts Dining hall, went to Wales and had a Welsh cake, seen Bristol, had a terrible hostel experience, “minded the gap” many times, been to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral, and so many other things that I can’t recall right now. I have gone to class too (not that they are particularly useful here).
I am going to Dublin this weekend and it should be a very interesting trip. I need to leave now for the airport. I welcome your questions, assigned or otherwise. Good Luck!



Blogger Mylinkay Asdara said...

Hello Anna, assigned comment here, but I'm glad I found someone in England! I am heading (hopefully) to Oxford in the coming Fall and you mentioned you'd been there to visit. We're probably in different programs, but do you find you have enough exploration time matched with class time and homework? I am concerned about the balance a little bit, as I hear the CMRS program is very challenging - which is fine I like a challenge - but I don't want to "miss out" on the country by having my nose in a book the entire stay.

These trips you took, are they a "field trip" program or your personal wanderings? And thank you for the banking tips - happily I already have a Capital One card so that's great news to me.

Is there anything you can tell me about what to pack or bring that will be essential - or what to leave behind because it won't be useful? That would be a great help.

Thank you,

2:06 PM  
Anonymous Chelsay said...

Hello Anna. It sounds like England is a lot of fun! I have never been there and not where I will be going next semester, but I do plan to get there someday! It sounds like you already knew how to do things the "right" way. Getting over jetlag is so hard, you must have had to fight really hard to stay up until 9:00. What kind of classes do you take in London? You said they aren't very helpful, does that mean that you know a lot of the material already or are you studying something that you are not particularly interested in?

The credit card information is good. I don't have a credit card yet so I will definitely look into Capital One. Hopefully I can find some good comparisons.

It's awesome that you have gotten to travel around. I think that will be another part of the adventure of studying abroad. Do you go alone, or with friends, or is it organized by the program? I feel like traveling around England might not be too frightening since you at least know the language, but you are pretty brave if you take some trips outside of the city alone. I hope everything is still going great!

Chelsay Browning

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Paige said...

Hi Anna,
Im in the CPP 250 class and I was wondering how you selected your classes? Was it difficult to find classes that would transfer back to Elmhurst? Im thinking gen ed classes would be easiest to take and still be able to experience the country I will be in. If you have any suggestions or tips for selecting classes they would be greatly appreciated.



10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am so jealous you were able to go to the Hogwarts dining hall first off. Also, I found the info on the credit card fee charges extremely interesting. I am wondering if that would apply in any other countries.... Another question, was it hard for you to adjust to the time difference? And were you able to reset your internal clock to function during this new time zone? Also, through your program were you able to select your courses or did you have to take their specified ones? On my upcoming trip on Semester at Sea we are required to take one class and get to pick two others. Sounds like you are having fun!

Thanks for your time!
Stacey Constantine

11:16 PM  
Blogger Mylinkay Asdara said...

Hello again Anna,

Do you have any tips for registering for classes or selecting them for an abroad semester? I'm an English major going to Oxford, and I know there is one class I must take, but the other three are going to be up to me (sort of) but they offer so many I am not sure what to pick.

Katherine Ciesla

9:14 PM  
Anonymous John Cosby said...

Hi Anna!

I was wondering if you are only taking classes that count for specific major/minor requirments while you are abroad.
I am studying abroad in Madrid this summer, and there is a class that will only count as an elective, but looks really interesting to me...what are your thoughts?

I hope you are having a great time! And thanks for all the great tips!

9:37 PM  

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