Hannah Lavine - 2015 Program Participant

Red telephone booth in London, England

London, England

What attracted you to study abroad?

I always knew I wanted to study abroad. It's a once in a lifetime experience of living in a different culture and traveling all over the world.

Why did you choose IES Abroad’s program in London?

I always wanted to study abroad in London. The IES Abroad London program was perfect for me because I was able to live in my favorite city in the world and get credit for required classes I needed to take in order to graduate.

What was your favorite part about London?

London is a major European city with so much history, so there was always something to do and see. Plus, traveling to other European countries was very easy.

What made your program unique?

The IES Abroad London program offers so many options to students. You can direct enroll in British universities, intern at various places (I had a friend that worked for Wimbledon!), volunteer or work at a service project, or learn about London and take one class at a British university. I did the last one, and though the classes were demanding I learned a lot about various aspects of British culture.

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany

How did the local staff support you throughout your program?

The IES Abroad staff was so awesome throughout the program. They're so friendly and make sure to get to know each student on the program.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

Probably stayed on top of my schoolwork a bit more. There are some programs you can slack off in, but IES Abroad London is not one of them. The British school system is much harder than the U.S., so they expect a lot more from the students. Even though it was hard at times, it's still very possible to get good grades.

What was a normal day like for you in London?

A normal day would be to wake up around 8:30 a.m., get dressed for school, and start walking to school around 9:15 a.m. It's possible to take the bus or the tube, but my friends and I always walked because it was a 20 minute walk and we needed some exercise. Usually, we'd grab a cup of coffee around school, in Bloomsbury, and be in classes from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and then 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Usually, we would head back to the dorm, workout or go grocery shopping, make dinner, do some homework, and just hang out. Depending on the day, we would go out to a pub or club at night.

What was your favorite thing to do outside of your coursework?

I loved traveling to different countries. I was very lucky to only have classes from Monday through Wednesday, so I traveled Thursday to Sunday. I was able to see so many different countries and cultures.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I lived in a dorm, which really worked out for the city I was in. My whole program lived in this dorm, so we were constantly together and saw each other. A lot of programs have students living in apartments all over the city, but because we all lived in one dorm we became really close and always hung out.

Skyline in Prague, Czech Republic

The skyline of Prague, Czech Republic

What was the hardest part about studying abroad in London?

It’s true that studying abroad isn’t all that glamorous. I loved traveling around Europe and living in London, but it gets tough. I didn’t study abroad with any of my best friends. Out of my friend group, only three people studied abroad and we were all in different locations. It was hard seeing my friends back at school together all the time; but I just stayed in touch with everyone and talked to them almost every other day. Not being with friends is hard, but studying abroad is about new experiences and meeting new people.

What surprised you most about London?

Honestly, I didn’t know how fashion forward it was! I grew up right outside of New York City, so I didn’t think any city (besides Paris) could top it. Boy, was I wrong! Everyone is so trendy all the time, no matter freezing cold or rain.

What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in England?

I wish I knew more information about what restaurants and which clubs or pubs to go to. I still had fun, but there's so much to do in London you're bound to miss out on some things when you're only there for four months. 

What do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?

There is so many benefits of studying abroad, but the big two for me is that I got to experience a different way of life and different cultures. Second, I got to travel all over Europe. I saw 10 cities and seven countries in four months. It’s an experience I’ll never forget. 

Do you have any packing tips for students headed to London?

Bring an umbrella and always keep it with you. BUT, don’t bring big, bulky rain or snow boots. It barely snows, and packing your Hunters will only take up space and pounds in your suitcase.

Do you think studying abroad has impacted your life at home?

Definitely. I'm a more independent person that wants to continue traveling the world someday.

Row of houses in Notting Hill, England

Searching for a house with a blue door in Notting Hill, England

Would you recommend IES Abroad to other students?

Absolutely. There’s no program that’s perfect, but the IES Abroad staff is great. They made sure to meet each and every student on the program and make them feel at home. The classes are a little harder than you would expect, but the teachers really know what they’re doing. I know so much more about British culture through various courses on youth culture, movies, and politics.

If you could study abroad again, where would you go?

I would 100 percent go back to London. But, if that weren’t an option, I would study in Tel Aviv or Australia.