Sarika Asthana - 2014 Program Participant

Artwork at the Tate Modern in London, England

Enjoying artwork at the Tate Modern, one of the many museums in London

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and while I get to travel a lot as a tourist with my family, I wanted to make a deeper connection with a new place, something more meaningful than a short trip. I decided to apply for an international program because I thought it would be an amazing opportunity to explore outside of my comfort zone by fully immersing myself in a new country and culture.

Studying abroad allows you to learn so much in such a short amount of time, and it is truly an eye-opening experience. I fell in love with London, and by the end of my time there, I definitely felt like a Londoner, not a tourist!

What made you choose to study at the London School of Economics (LSE)?

I chose to study at LSE because I was able to take economics courses there that would count for my major at UC Berkeley. There also would not be a language barrier since English is my first language. Also, the program was shorter in comparison to others (six weeks long for two courses), so I had some time during the summer to spend at home with my family as well. Lastly, I thought London would be a very cool and exciting place to visit, and LSE is in the heart of the city!

What were your housing arrangements like in London?

I stayed at an LSE dorm called High Holborn! I had a room to myself, but I shared a flat with four other people. We all shared a common bathroom and kitchen area. In my room, I was provided with a bed, desk, sink, and closet. Also, the dorm had a cool basement hangout area with a pool table, couches, and a TV; it was the perfect socializing area. There also was a small dining area where we were served breakfast in the morning.

Students at the London School of Economics

Sarika’s first day of MG106: Strategic Management class with a friend

Describe a day in the life of a LSE student.

In the morning, I woke up around 7:30 a.m. and had breakfast provided by my dorm, High Holborn. I walked five minutes away to the LSE campus for my three hour morning lecture. Then, I had an hour break for lunch. I got lunch at quick take-out places on campus, and I ate it with my friends at Lincoln Inn Fields, which was always a popular lunchtime spot. After, I had an hour long discussion section for my class. I spent the remaining afternoon and evening time walking around London and seeing different tourist sites, such as Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, or Piccadilly Circus. At night, I would go out for dinner with my friends and hang out at a local pub near our dorms.

Of the 70 courses taught during LSE’s Summer School, what attracted you to MG106: Strategic Management and EC240: Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development? 

MG106: Strategic Management was a good introductory level course to a potential career path I was interested in! I knew I liked business and wanted to learn more about management, so it was the perfect class for me to get a better understanding of what strategic management entails.

EC240: Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development was also a good class for me because it was a more intermediate level course that gave me economics credit for my major at UC Berkeley. The EC240 class was more challenging than MG106, but I learned a lot from both of them.

What was your biggest takeaway from each course?

MG106 showed me that strategic management is something I find very interesting, and the course inspired my interest in management consulting as a career. Also, before taking EC240 I was not aware of environmental economics as a field. Since climate change and environmental awareness is on the rise for my generation, it was fascinating to take a class about it at LSE from an economics perspective. Both courses opened my eyes to fields that I was not as familiar with before.

What makes London such a great place to study economics and management?

London is a great place to study economics and management because it has a deep history with both! As a prime European city, lots of big companies were headquartered in London. In addition, famous economists often came from Britain, such as Keynes or Alfred Marshall. Their works were often influenced by the type of business being conducted in London.

What was the most memorable part of your study abroad experience in London?

My most memorable part of my summer school experience was spending three hours walking around the city with a good friend. We walked along the River Thames and all around the city as the sunset, and it made me realize I had fallen madly in love with London!

River Thames in London at night

Captured during a night stroll across the River Thames - Photo Courtesy of Sarika Asthana

What was your favorite activity outside the normal day-to-day schedule of your program? 

Outside of the normal day-to-day schedule of my program, I really enjoyed spending time exploring the city with new friends! LSE is in a very popular area of central London, and it was a blast walking around and seeing different tourist sites.

What was the biggest challenge you faced in London?

My biggest challenge abroad was probably sticking to my budget! London is an expensive city and it took some time to get used to the prices and exchange rate. I had an idea of how much money I wanted to spend beforehand and I budgeted out my money over my time in the city.

How did the local staff support you throughout your program? 

The local staff were very helpful in putting on fun socials and helping out with any needs students may have! LSE’s Summer School is an international program, so they are aware that students are coming from all over the place. They did a good job of making everyone feel comfortable in the new city.

View of the London Eye

Sarika checking out the local tourist sites with a new friend

What advice would you give to others interested in studying abroad during the summer at the London School of Economics?

Make sure to balance your work and social life! School can be rigorous at times, and exams make up most, if not all, of your grade. Therefore, it is important to take it seriously and work hard. During free time, feel free to explore the city and make new friends! The best way I was able to balance studying and socializing was forming study groups and meeting other students in my classes so we could all work together to study for exams!

How has your experience studying abroad at LSE impacted your life?

My university is less than an hour away from my parents and home. Thus, studying abroad at LSE showed me that I could take care of myself, and I can handle being away from home! I was able to go to a new city and make friends while doing well in classes.

It gave me confidence, and it has inspired me to travel more in the future.

Would you recommend LSE’s Summer School to other students?

I would 110 percent recommend the London School of Economics Summer School program to others! While the tuition may be a little higher than some other programs, it is definitely worth it! Studying abroad at LSE was one of the best decisions I have made for myself, and I would do it all over again if I could. I made new friends from around the world, I learned from world-renowned faculty, and I fell in love with the gorgeous city of London. LSE was a fun and rewarding program, and I definitely recommend it.