Hello from London! Let me introduce myself—my name is Zack (that’s me above, at the Prime Meridian), and I’m a junior at BU. I’ll be posting here every so often, so keep checking back for more! I’ve had a ton of great experiences at BU so far: sailing on the Charles, Kilachand Honors College classes, my time on the Mock Trial team, and the summer I spent living and working in Boston are just a few. But right now I’m in London on one of BU’s awesome internship study abroad programs, so I figured I’d start off by telling you a little about that.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect out of a study abroad program. I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, and have traveled around the country quite a bit, but my international experiences were limited to Vancouver, BC, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Those trips were vacations, so this is the first time I’ve ever really lived and worked in a foreign country.
England might not seem like a very exotic destination, but at the same time it’s much different than the US, and in so many ways. Take the Tube (the London subway system), for instance. If you don’t know your way around its extensive underground network, and if you don’t know to stand on the right side of the escalator and walk on the left, then you best get out of the way or risk getting run over; much different than in Boston, where the T (our subway system) is more relaxed. Another difference: on the Tube, everyone reads newspapers and doesn’t say a word to each other. On the T, there’s always a conversation to be had.
That said, when you introduce yourself, work, or spend some time with a Londoner, they’ll talk to you like you’ve known each other forever! It’s interesting how, generally with strangers, most people in the city keep to themselves, but once you start to establish a relationship they’ll want to go out for drinks or check out an event in the city almost every weekend. Having the opportunity to work in a law firm through the program has really allowed me to see what it’s like to live and work like a Londoner, and has given me so much more of a unique view of the people and life here than any other visit would have afforded.
I’ve always known I wanted to study abroad, and my experience so far has only reaffirmed how important I think it is to a college education. It’s much more difficult to be successful in today’s international economy without having experienced at least one other culture. While I may not have the chance to work and live in every country, the more exposure I have to people all over the world, the more it will enrich my own education. My time here has not only made me see what a great decision it was to go abroad, but now has me seriously considering programs like the Peace Corps or other opportunities after graduation that will let me see more cultures and get to know more people from all over the planet.
Of course, there’s more to my study abroad experience in London than the internship and the subway system. I’ve toured Buckingham Palace, visited Windsor Castle, ran in a half-marathon around the city, and went to a Guy Fawkes Day carnival that culminated in a fireworks display over the city. Oh, and a few weeks ago, the world premiere of the new James Bond movie was held a block and a half from the BU dorm building here at the Royal Albert Hall. The premier was attended by Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, and Prince Charles and his wife, among other celebrities and musicians. Just an average day in London!
Not many prospective students think about it, but look into the study abroad programs of the schools you are thinking of applying to. Make sure they have an option to study abroad for at least one or two programs you might be interested in. If you want to check out all of BU’s programs, go to www.bu.edu/abroad. Fair warning, you might be a bit overwhelmed with all the options!