Marialyse Martiney - 2015 Program Participant
The ruins of Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, England
What inspired you to study abroad?
Being a film studies major, I have been exposed to film culture mainly in Los Angeles, California; however, there are other equally important film industries around the world that I've always wanted to learn about.
Why did you choose IES Abroad’s program in London?
I was looking for new film classes that would teach me about production and culture in a thriving environment. The IES Abroad London program offered film courses that teach film history and technology from a British perspective, rather than just teaching production. In addition to their film courses, I was able to learn about theater and Shakespeare through courses that actually take you into the city to explore and experience the culture first hand. Lastly, I knew language was not a strength of mine; being in London allowed me to communicate fully with the people around me but also be exposed to different cultures.
What were your favorite things about London?
My two favorite things about London were: 1. the Tube and 2. the tradition. Being able to go where ever I wanted, whenever I wanted was exciting and adventurous. The tradition that London prides itself on leaves you with an endless list of things to learn and explore.
What surprised you most about London?
Coming from America, the most surprising aspect about London was that all the stereotypes I'd heard about the city were 100 percent wrong. It doesn't rain all day, there are a few rainy moments, but it doesn't pour all day like in the U.S. It's not cold, in fact the terrible winter back home made me feel so much better that I was in London. The food is delicious, and I'm a picky eater. The list goes on and on.
What made your program experience unique?
One of the most refreshing aspects of the program was that the classes took place in a victorian house. It did not feel like we were trapped in a classroom on a college campus, but instead a very comforting learning environment.
Trafalgar Square in Westminster, England
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
The IES Abroad staff were fantastic in every way possible. They made sure we were in good health and told us what to do if we felt ill. They constantly encouraged us to be a part of the community and suggested events to go to. But most importantly, they always made you feel comfortable to talk to them about anything.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
If I could do one thing differently, I wish I would have explored the nightlife more often. I enjoyed exploring London during the day, but did not take the time to explore the clubs and nightlife.
Describe a day in your life in London.
On a school day, I would get up, try not to wake my roommate while getting ready for class, and walk down the street to the the cafe for a delicious pastry and hot chocolate. As I walked to the bus stop I would always admire the morning light on King's Cross. A 30-minute drive to the IES Abroad center on the double decker bus is great for people watching and seeing the city come to life. Getting off the bus, looking right and not left to cross the street, and the center blends into the surroundings on Bloomsbury. You buzz into the center and Simon and Vanessza welcome you with bright smiles every time. As you walk up the stairs, Albus Dumbledore gives you some education tips.
The classrooms are small but cozy, and make the two and a half hour classes not as painful. The teachers, not professors but teachers, insist you call them by their first name and constantly engage you throughout the lesson with their humor and fascinating experiences in the topics.
The day is like a throwback to high school when you're in class all day, but you want to be there and you want to learn.
What was your favorite activity outside the normal day-to-day schedule of your program?
One of my favorite activities outside the day-to-day schedule of my program was going to the cinema. Going to the cinema (or the movies) is not the same as in America; even a small activity such as going to the cinema is different in different cultures.
What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?
I stayed at a housing building called Nido (pronounced like Neat-o). Although it is strictly for students, you feel like an adult because of the apartment layout. The security was very tight, allowing everyone to feel safe with a guard at the desk at all times. One of the best location perks was that it's a two minute walk to King's Cross Station.
On the film set of The Great Hall of Hogwarts at the Warner Bros. studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire
What was the hardest part about studying abroad?
One of the hardest parts about studying abroad was the anticipation. At first you're really excited to be accepted, and you fill out all the paperwork and start really reading up on what is going to be your new home; but then as it starts getting closer and closer to the time you start freaking out.
My freak out started two weeks before I was about to leave. Very simple things started to seem really intimidating and scary; for example, packing, figuring out transportation, the food, having a roommate! I let all these things build up so much that I almost didn't want to go anymore. However, as soon as my plane touched down and I got my luggage everything fell into place, even having an awesome roommate!
Do you have any packing tips for students headed to London?
Leave room in your suitcase for things to bring back! You will be bringing back A LOT of stuff. Don't feel like you need to bring extra amount of makeup or toiletries. There are American brand stores, such as Body Shop, and you can always try using their equivalents of certain brands you like.
Trust that you know how you prefer to dress and don't feel like you have to bring certain things (ex. I never wear rain jackets and I didn't need one for London even though my family kept insisting on it). If you blow dry your hair or straighten it, just buy one in London so you don't fry any wires or damage yours. Don't feel like you have to sacrifice bringing something you know you really want (unless it's something ridiculous like bringing your favorite poster, that will get destroyed on the plane).
What is one thing you wish you would have known before studying abroad in the United Kingdom?
This probably sound really simple, but one of the the things I wished I had known before studying abroad in the United Kingdom was knowing about the royal family, really, really knowing about the royal family. Yes, they do tell you about some of the history throughout your trip, but it's very easy to miss important historical references when you don't truly know about them. For example, the birth of the royal baby!
If you could study abroad again, where would you go and why?
If I could study abroad again, I would go to London again. If I wasn't allowed to choose London again, I would go to Italy; pizza and gelato, but also the appreciation of the arts, such as theater and dance.
As a study abroad alum, what do you feel the biggest benefit of studying abroad is?
The biggest benefit of studying abroad was seeing a whole new version of my major and career, film studies. Hollywood really dominates the definition of film, and as a result I've subconsciously blocked out the possibility that other countries have an important impact on film as it develops.
Studying abroad in London showed me how a difficult culture treats film as a medium to reflect on how they tell their history and stories. I now find myself heavily leaning toward the idea of having a film career in London.
How has studying abroad in London impacted your life?
My study abroad experience in London has greatly impacted my life. I plan on looking for work in London after graduation and returning during winter break to reconnect with some local friends I made.
Would you recommend IES Abroad to other students?
Yes! It's great because they work with your home school in terms of financial aid and grades, but also because it's not for profit and they genuinely care about your experience.