My Study Abroad Experience: Kristin John

Where and when did you study abroad/off-campus? 

I studied abroad during my Junior Spring in London, England on the London Internship Program, Finance & Economics Track.

What did you do for your internship and what kinds of projects were you assigned (if you had one)?

I had the wonderful opportunity to work at KPMG, one of the “Big Four” accounting firms. I was a member of KPMG International’s Global Corporate Citizenship team, which is in charge of the firm-wide corporate social responsibility initiatives. I worked on quantifying the whole company’s social impact initiatives into reportable material for analysis—I analyzed the annual impact reports for KPMG’s many global offices and consolidated these statistics. This was challenging as each office had a very different way of stating their impacts, so I worked with my team to provide guidelines going forwards on how to report measurable impact. I also worked on a project to compare and contrast different impact investment principles as my team’s client was looking to develop a new set of principles for the City of London. A final project I worked on was assessing fossil fuel clients’ progress in sustainable development to share with account managers as talking points to further develop the client-advisor partnerships.

What are two things you learned from your time abroad/off-campus that you may not have learned otherwise?

  • I studied abroad in the midst of Brexit, so becoming fully engaged in this huge historical shift is something I know I would not have had otherwise. It was interesting to see first-hand how the British people reacted to this, and I became fully aware of how Brexit would affect different populations. We also discussed Brexit in my classes, allowing me to have an analytical and factual view on the current event. The experience of observing a country go through this magnitude of change was extremely eye-opening.
  • I would not have learned how education works outside of the American system. Taking classes abroad and learning about my British colleagues’ college experiences was incredibly interesting. The British education system is one of the best in the world and is ingrained into so many countries around the world. Learning about what they prioritize in education and how they teach students by experiencing a different grading structure myself was helpful. I became a better learner by embracing the best parts of both the American and British systems. I also learned how to understand British people’s different perspectives as a root of their education systems.

What surprised you most about your time abroad/off-campus?

I was surprised with how integrated we were into the city and country. This was mainly due to the internship aspect, as I woke up and went to work like the rest of the city. We were also centrally located in South Kensington, a 5-minute walk away from world-class museums and Kensington Palace itself.


What was the hardest part of your experience?

The hardest part of my experience was coming to the realization that this experience was only temporary and that I had to make the most of it, every day. The time really flies by when you’re abroad, and I felt like I still had so much more of London and the U.K. to experience and engage in.

What was the best part of your experience?

The best part of my experience was being able to venture off into a foreign country on my own and developing this independence. I often spent time exploring the city by myself, exploring new sights and historic places. I would walk to different places, listening to music and taking in the moment. It was important for me to discover not only London but myself through this process—I think this is something every person should do in their lifetimes, especially young women. It taught me how to be happy and grateful for my surroundings every day. By the end of my semester, I fully understood the main areas of London and many unique places.

What are your best tips for those planning to study where you did?

  • Make use of the seemingly spare moments within your days! Even if you have a 10-minute break between classes or a lunch break during your internship, walk around and truly take in your surroundings. You might discover something beautiful. The BU academic building is centered in South Kensington, which is home to many famous historical sites. For example, Alfred Hitchcock’s home is a few minutes walk from the building. Also, it is helpful to check websites and Instagram accounts such as Timeout London which posts reviews of restaurants, things to do, and special events.

Are there any hidden gems that your classmates should check out?

  • I really enjoyed Kew Gardens, a botanical garden and UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can explore Victorian-style glass conservatories, a royal Japanese pagoda, and vibrant gardens.
  • Fleet Street: A historic street vital to London’s development since the Roman times. Start at the original Twinings Tea store that has been in operation for over 300 years. Across the street, you will find the Royal Courts of Justice, the magnificent heart of London’s judicial system. Keep walking down Fleet Street and you will see plenty of plaques on buildings explaining their histories. Fleet Street used to be the center of the British journalism as the main newspapers were based here, from the 1500s-1980s. Walk inside St. Bride’s Church, which is famous for several reasons. First, as you will see in the basement, there is a free museum that showcases living proof of the Roman history excavated beneath the church. Second, architect Sir Christopher Wren (of St. Paul’s Cathedral) designed the steeple of the church. It looks like a wedding cake and is said to have inspired the tiered wedding cake!
  •  London is renowned for its high quality international cuisine, from Laotian to Ethiopian. I highly recommend Masala Zone for excellent Indian food and Hopper’s for Sri Lankan food. These restaurants are top-rated and thinking about their food continues to make my mouth water!

My Study Abroad Experience: Sunayana Basa

Where and when did you study abroad/off-campus?

I studied abroad spring semester of my junior year (Spring 2017) in London, UK.

What did you do for your internship and what kinds of projects were you assigned (if you had one)?

I interned at a non-profit called Walkabout Foundation. I had a couple different jobs there – since I have had experience with social media from working as a social media intern the summer before sophomore year, I helped the foundation figure out ways to increase their social media presence by researching best social media practices. As a finance major, I was also assigned to work with the CFO of the nonprofit, Marina, to organize donations on Quickbooks for their annual report and to work on Salesforce to manage their donor information.

What are two things you learned from your time abroad/off-campus that you may not have learned otherwise?

One of the biggest things I learned studying abroad is just how much bigger and diverse the world is than expected. I feel like the faraway places you read about never seem so different on a computer screen or in a book, but when you actually visit these places, you recognize that your imagination couldn’t possibly fathom how different they actually are. Another thing I learned (or more gained) from study abroad was a greater appreciation for America.  When I visited countries surrounding London, other young people I would meet would always seem to revere America and were so in awe of the things in the US that I take for granted. They would always exclaim how it would be a “dream come true” to study in the US, especially at a school like BU. I think seeing this adoration in different countries definitely made me appreciate my parents, the faculty, and administration of BU for giving me the opportunity to travel and see a new culture.

What surprised you most about your time abroad/off-campus?

I think that, despite the similar culture of the US and the UK, there were some subtle differences between the two countries that definitely surprised me. For example, British humor is more dry and raunchy than American humor, and often times I would interpret a sarcastic joke as being genuine until someone told me otherwise. In fact, one English person I met even commented that in her experience, it was funny to joke around with Americans because we are so polite!

What was the hardest part of your experience?

The hardest part of my experience was feeling like I was missing out on what was happening in Boston while I was away. Social media always makes it so easy to see exactly what your friends are doing and where they are, and it always is a little bit bittersweet to realize that they are hanging out without you. To be fair, however, the fact that I was in a city as big and beautiful as London definitely made them feel jealous at times too.

What was the best part of your experience?

The best part of being in London was that we could travel a lot because the city is such a hub in Europe. In the US, you can fly for hours and still barely make it to another coast, let alone another country. Since London is pretty central, we were able to take a quick two-hour flight to travel to so many cool countries in weekend trips. I especially loved visiting Malta and Scotland—they were absolutely stunning!

What are your best tips for those planning to study where you did?

Use your time wisely. Everyone says this, but study abroad flies by, and it is important to make sure you are really doing what you want with your time! Especially in a city like London, there is so much to see and do, and there are so many student discounts which makes it very affordable to go to different places. Also, travel! London is a hub and you should check out what is in the city, but if you can, getting out and exploring other cities and countries is a must.

Are there any hidden gems that your classmates should check out?

All the outdoor markets are totally worth going to, if only for the food! There are so many more than just Camden Market, like Portabello Road Market and Spittlefield Market. If you are looking for a view, you can definitely go to the London Eye but also check out the Tate Modern Museum’s top floor for a cool view of London! I would also check out Little Venice and Chinatown for the food. If possible, try to get out of London (to Oxford or Cambridge)—both cities are beautiful!



Final Goodbyes – The Last Week with Thomas Swan & Co.

Our final week atimage3 Thomas Swan was a brief but intense.

We had to put together the final presentation and report since we were presenting a day earlier than the other teams. Monday through Wednesday consiste
d of condensing all of our research into our presentation slides and deciding what information to include into our formal business report. Thursday was the big day! We were scheduled to present our proposal from 2-4 pm to the senior management team. They were the ones in charge of deciding whether or not the project was to be taken forwards. Thankfully our presentation was a success and the directors were really pleased with the outcome. Harry Swan, the Managing Director of the company, gave us certificates and a farewell present.

We also had a celebratory dinner at night at The Botanist (It could not have been anywhere else!). He informed us that the project was approved which was very exciting since it made us feel like we were part of something bigger. After some cocktails, a nice dinner and lovely desserts we said goodbye since the next morning we were presenting to the GEO team and the FSB interns.

On Friday we presented a briefer version of the presentation and talked about our experience during these last three weeks. We also got the chance to watch the other teams’ presentations and have lunch with the whole GEO group, Harry and Simon. It was a bittersweet day because even though we are happy that our project was successful we will miss going to the office every morning and being greeted by friendly faces.

Tonight we are planning on having a goodbye meal in China Town, for much anticipated Dim Sum. Isabella and Andrea leave tomorrow, Michelle on Sunday and Tony will remain in Newcastle for another three weeks. We would like to thank Harry for being a great boss, the Thomas Swan team for being so welcoming and the GEO team for this great opportunity! We will miss all of you.

Thomas Swan Interns

Week 2 at Thomas Swan: Achievements and Early Goodbyes

Our second week st1arted after two days of rest and travelling. Some of us went to Edinburgh for fourteen hours and got to know as much of the city as possible. In total we walked more than 20 km! We were exhausted afterwards, but it was a very rewarding cultural experience.

Week 2 has been more productive, and more challenging as well. The team has been able to identify potential chemicals and explore them further. The first few days were stressful because we had very broad information and never ending chemical terms. However, as the week progressed we were able to narrow down our list of chemicals and our goals became more clear.

To celebrate this achievement, we went to have a nice dinner at Yo! Sushi and take advantage of “Blue Mondays”. It seems like a good deal, because they offer more “blue plates”, which are of the cheapest on the menu. It adds up though! Nevertheless, we were able to eat some nice Japanese food and desserts (our favorite was the Mango Mochi), and had a great time.

On Tuesday, we didn’t go to Thomas Swan because the GEO planned a field trip to Piramal, a pharmaceutical company about 30 minutes away by bus. After learning about the company’s history, we were given a tour of the different plants on site. We were fascinated to see how they transform raw materials into final products. Being able to see the packaging process was very interesting as well. We were then given a very interesting talk about leadership.yo sushi

Since we didn’t work from the office on Tuesday, on Friday we went to Thomas Swan for work (we normally would have worked from NUBS on a Friday). We had lunch with Harry Swan and Simon, the Technical Director. The purpose of the lunch was to say goodbye to Sachin, since he is going back home this weekend. During the lunch we were also able to discuss our progress and receive guiding feedback from Harry and Simon.
Once we arrived to Newcastle we said our goodbyes. Sachin will be missed! Next week will be challenging since we have 3 days to work on our project before our presentation on Thursday. Yet, we know we will be focused and work hard!! Wish us luck :)

GEO Thomas Swan Interns

Week 1: Thomas Swan

First arrivals: two lost IMG_0270girls from Colombia. Interestingly, these two Colombians (Andrea and Isabella), both study business at Boston University, yet only met because of this internship. We both arrived early Friday morning and headed to our accommodations right next to the Newcastle University Business School, or as we later learned, “NUBS”. Even though we were jet lagged and didn’t have UK sim cards, we set off to explore the city. However, we didn’t go far because we didn’t want to get lost without Google Maps! On Saturday, however, we activated sim cards and decided to explore Quayside and the River Tyne. By the river, we went to Catpawcino, a cute little cat café where you can spend time with five playful cats and drink some tea or have a snack. We then walked around and were amazed to see bridge after bridge, adding up to 7, along the River Tyne. We were beginning to get hungry so we tried to get into several restaurants along busy Grey Street, but to our surprise everything was booked. We then found a hidden but delicious Italian restaurant (Pani’s) and enjoyed a nice dinner. On Sunday we had brunch at Quay Ingredient. We thought this was pronounced how it is written, but we later were told it is pronounced like “key,” which makes more sense! Then, we went to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and enjoyed the expositions and the views of the river. Meanwhile, the Quayside Market was going on from early in the morning until the afternoon. There was a Venezuelan stand, along with more international cuisines, and typical English meals and snacks. We also saw lots of sweets, crafts and fresh vegetables. After walking around and buying some sweet goods, we decided to return to our new home, since we were going to have an early morning the next day.

Second arrival: another lost girl from Xiamen (Michelle). Before taking another flight to Newcastle, my friend and I, had a night stay in London. The next morning, we had a really great breakfast at the hotel restaurant where you can see planes taking off right in front of you. It was fantastic! Helen welcomed us after arriving in Newcastle. Everything was just perfect! The dorm is really big, as well as cozy, and what must be mentioned is that local people are really nice, literally. We received a lot of help everywhere we went. As new arrivals, we were truly happy and relieved. We went shopping on weekends to prepare things for work and also bring presents for our friends in China. Newcastle is a nice place for shopping. The place is beautiful. We took a lot of pictures and shared them with our friends in China.

The most difficult things to get used to were the food and the weather. Xiamen is a sunny island where the average temperature is 35 degrees celsius. We felt so cold and local food was also cold. I kept making complaints. But then I found very good raw food and I learned to cook for myself. I actually learned a lot from Andrea and Isabella about how to cook with those materials. So many things to get used to including the language, and I’m glad I have been treated patiently by my group mates. Too many places to explore and I’m really excited every day.IMG_9964

On Monday after introductions, ice breakers and tours around the University and the city, we had a dinner at the University’s restaurant, the Courtyard. Harry Swan, the managing director of Thomas Swan & Co, Ltd. joined us. We talked about the project we were going to start the next day, and got to know him.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that this is listed as an internship in Newcastle. Getting to the town of Consett (where Thomas Swan is based) requires taking a one hour tour of the surrounding villages on a rickety bus, which isn’t exactly desirable at 7 in the morning. Even then, once we were dropped off in a town as cheerful as you’d expect a former North East mining centre to be, we had to find our way to our offices for the next 3 weeks. After a brief walk, we arrived at the chemical plant, and the last thing any of us expected to see was a deer frolicking around in the fields – but there it was. This actually served as a great representation of what the company is about. Harry Swan, the Managing Director, is striving to take Thomas Swan in a sustainable direction, and Harry envisions his company to eventually be able to positively impact their local environment – not an easy task for a chemical manufacturer! But, he is succeeding, and it really feels like our project will go some way towards his final vision.

Before we started properly working on our project, we were given a health and safety brief by a friendly guy named Rory. Though the thick Geordie accent may have been a slight challenge for the girls, I think all of us now have an unparalleled insight into how fire extinguishers work. We were also given an informative tour of the plant, which felt like we were in a real life episode of How It’s Made.

Our job is to find a plant derived chemical that has proven market demand to be grown in a sustainable manner. We are five business and economic students researching technical chemical processes, so academically we are out of depths and at times it has been confusing. Despite this we have managed to uncover 15 relevant molecules and further narrowed down the list to 10 hopefuls. We developed a criteria for the chemicals to meet; availability, yield, crop cycle and market demand. Our research methods have proved strong and the team chemistry is helping.

Vicky Liao – London Internship – Management Track

Vicky at Big Ben

Vicky at Big Ben

Interned in accounting and finance at the Crowne Plaza’s London Docklands on the London Internship Program in fall 2015.

Internship:  I interned at Crowne Plaza London Docklands’ Accounts Department. Every day I posted credit, commissions and remittance invoices on Crowne Plaza’s internal server for payment processing/documentation. Additionally, I collected cash from all hotel cashiers to verify the amount matched with what was reported. I also checked daily credit card reconciliations to ensure zero variance on the balance sheet.

I Learned: From this experience, I learned both cooking and how to adapt to a country with a different culture. It was difficult in the beginning because the London campus was not as big and convenient as the BU campus. It was hard to find food and stores near to the London campus. One cultural difference I found was that most British don’t like to stock up on groceries the way that most Americans do. Instead, they prefer to buy groceries every day or every other day. Eventually, I started to get used to it and buy supplies at the grocery store in the train station every day after work.

Hardest Part: The hardest part for me was finding time to focus on studying. I had my internship, and I wanted to spend weekends travelling to other places. As a result, it was hard for me to keep my mind focused on studying because traveling and my internship used up most of my energy.

Best Part: Traveling to other cities in UK and to other European countries were the best experiences ever. It was great to see all those places and learn about their cultures.

My Tips: If you are planning to travel a lot, then plan it way ahead of time and be aware of the timing of your courses. Also, I took the course AH381. It was a London Architecture and Urbanism class. It was the best class I had in London because the class was half lecture and half field trip. In this class, I learned a lot about London’s history and got to go to many famous attractions. I would definitely recommend this class to students who are interesting in learning more about London.

Amanda Barone – London Internship – Management Track

Amanda in Kensington GardensInterned in finance on the London Internship Program in summer 2015.

Internship: I was an Analysis Intern for a company called CMD, which tracks the performance of thousands of fixed income securities and uses this information to provide money market analysis to industry insiders.

Because the company is quite small, I was given a lot of responsibility right away; by the end of my first week, I already had four articles published to an audience of about 20,000 market professionals! I primarily wrote articles about Movers & Shakers in the financial industry and weekly bond market reports for SSA, FIG, and corporate bond markets.

As someone who is studying both Business and English, this internship enabled me to learn how to analyze the bond market and gain professional writing experience. Through this internship, I was also able to gain a truly international work experience; there were only eight people in my office, but each person was from a different country!

I Learned: Between take-out, my Mom’s homemade meals, and BU’s dining halls, I don’t have much cooking experience. It was a bit of a reality check to have to prepare all of my own food, but I feel that being thrown right into it really helped me to learn how to plan dishes, grocery shop, and make delicious meals on my own.

When my English class read the works on the topic of World War One, we supplemented the reading with a field trip to the Imperial War Museum. It was so insightful to see history through the eyes of another culture, and I realized that I actually had a passion for learning about the World Wars.

What Surprised Me: What surprised me most about going abroad was how quickly you make friends with the people on your trip! Going into the experience, I did not know anyone who would be in London at the same time as me. Luckily, I met an amazing group of people. We became very close very quickly because we were all learning how to adapt to a different culture at the same time. I am very grateful to be going back to Boston with a new circle of friends that I may have never otherwise crossed paths with!

Hardest Part: I knew going into the experience that London was one of the most expensive cities in the world, but I was still surprised to see just how expensive everything was! The exchange rate was quite shocking. Although it seemed normal to buy a coffee for 3.50, I had to remind myself that I was using the British pound rather than the American dollar, which meant that my coffee was actually costing me closer to $6.00. I realized almost right away that I would need to stick to a budget if I did not want to burn right through all of my savings. Although it was really difficult to resist the temptation of all the amazing London shopping and eating, I know I spent my money on things I really cared about which made me and my wallet much happier!

My Tips: BU’s London campus is so close of the South Kensington museums (the view out my window was of the Natural History Museum), which are some of the best museums in the world. But by the end of the trip, some of my friends still hadn’t been to many of them even though they were literally across the street! Most British museums are free, so my best tip is to pop in whenever you have a free hour. Going to the Victoria & Albert museum for 45 minutes a few mornings before class really broke the museum down and made the entire experience more enjoyable!

Hidden Gems: Anyone who knows me knows that I have a serious coffee addiction. Because the Brits are so obsessed with their tea, I had to do some serious exploring for a great cup of coffee. I researched the best coffee places in each area and worked my way around the city. Some hidden gems included Monmouth Coffee, Brooklyn Coffee, Notes, and Workshop Coffee Co. It was so nice not only to have an excuse to see most of the city, but also to escape from the hectic city and relax with a cup of coffee.

Best Part: The last night of my trip coincided with one of my roommate’s birthday, so my entire friend group decided to have a huge celebration meal at Ottolenghi. The food was some of the best I’ve had in my life, but even more incredible was sitting around with a bunch of people who had been strangers just weeks ago and talking about all of the amazing adventures we had in London.

Andrea Han – London Internship Management Track

At the Golden Jubilee Bridge

At the Golden Jubilee Bridge

Interned in London in Human Resources at the Elizabeth Arden Head Office, Summer 2015. 

Internship: I was an HR intern at the Elizabeth Arden Head Office in London. During my internship, I had various projects and assignments. My main project was to look over all the CVs from applicants for new positions at the head office, conduct phone interviews with all the applicants, and then schedule in interviews with the candidates that I felt were suitable. In addition to that, I created/revised different employee contracts, helped new employees get settled into the company, covered reception, analyzed all the consultant grievances and disciplinary letters for patterns and general themes, and created posters and cards for recruitment. If there were formal events or conferences occurring during the day, then I would help set up and have all the food ordered and prepared. Of course, there was always some filing or copying that needed to be done, so I did that as well.
I Learned: I learned that I’m actually quite good at adapting to new places and am pretty resourceful.
What Surprised Me: Just how beautiful everything really is!! Even though I knew London was pretty amazing beforehand, everything was magnified a thousand times when I got there!! Seeing things about the city is extremely different online than in real life, and there wasn’t one place where I wasn’t amazed. During my time abroad, I always loved taking little walks to random places and discovering new beautiful scenery and sites!! Even getting lost was a fun experience on its own, and that’s saying a lot.
Hardest Part: Their wasn’t anything really hard in particular, but one thing I did have issues with at times was talking to the locals and understanding some of the phrases and terms. There were some things that I said that they didn’t understand, and some things that they said that I didn’t understand. Although this wasn’t something that happened to me, in particular, a couple of my friends had warned me about the word “pants” because in the UK people say “trousers” instead of “pants.” The term “pants” in the UK actually means underwear, so things could get a little awkward when a mistake of this nature was made. In general, language was something that took me awhile to get used to, but it was definitely worthwhile getting to know the language and culture a bit better.
Best Part: My entire time there!! I enjoyed every single bit of it. It was really nice to go out and explore London during classes because I had created a list of spots to visit during my time abroad. During my internship, I loved working and interacting with all my coworkers. They were all so nice!!! In addition, I learned so much about HR and am looking forward to gaining more experience in this field. If I were to pick a specific time, it would probably be my weekend in Scotland. This was the best weekend I have ever had, and it was an experience that I will never forget. Edinburgh had one of the most breathtaking sceneries with the mix of the new city and old city. The Highlands were absolutely gorgeous, and it was really a great time just to take a break from the hustle and bustle of a busy city life.
My Tips: Plan your expenses wisely!!! Everyone knows that London is a very expensive city, but actually experiencing it is something really different. In addition, it does not help that you are going to be living in a really posh (but beautiful) neighborhood. Definitely keep track of how much you are spending, and plan budgets for each week. Furthermore, definitely take advantage of all the free things to do in London. For a city that is known to be expensive, it’s amazing that almost all their major museums and parks offer free admission (and a lot offer free admission to students). Plus, all their exhibits, in my opinion, are the best I have ever seen! There were a lot of famous pieces of art in many exhibitions, and it was really wonderful to see them. In addition, they have a lot of parks all over the city! Whenever I wanted to take a nice walk outside, I would always go to Hyde Park to relax and get a delicious whippy. 🙂
Hidden Gems: All the markets – Camden, Borough, Greenwich, Portobello, etc!! I absolutely loved going to the markets because they were all so much fun. Plus, there were some really great antique shops in the markets to shop around and browse. Although it can get a bit hectic and crazy with so many people (especially on the weekends), it is something just to experience. I ended up visiting each several times just because it was that good. I especially loved all the great food that was offered in the markets because it was tasty food and super cheap!! It can’t get any better than that!!

Shannon C., London Internship – Law Track

Platform 9.75Interned in law at a small human rights firm, Spring 2015

Internship: My internship was with a very small human rights law firm with just around six full-time employees in total.  While I didn’t have one on-going project with the firm, I worked on different things such as researching different bodies of law as they applied to our clients and preparing memos on the topics; drafting letters and notices for our clients and opposition; and creating hearing bundles to be used in court.  I even got the chance to attend court on a few occasions, which was a really great opportunity to see first-hand how the British legal system works.

I Learned: I had no idea that the British work environment would be so different than the American work environment. Though there are definitely exceptions, the British work environment tends to be much more relaxed and laid-back than in the US.  It’s common for co-workers to go out for drinks at lunch and talk about their personal lives at work.  Because my office was so small, I came to know the lives of my co-workers pretty well.  The office felt very comfortable and open, but at the same time everyone was really focused on their work, and I realized that I liked the balance of those two aspects.

I also learned how to travel with other people.  This wasn’t really something I had given thought to before traveling abroad, but it ended up being one of the most crucial parts of enjoying my time abroad.  My roommate and I went on every trip together and had a great travel dynamic, which allowed us to enjoy our adventures.  We came to know who was good with directions, who was good with plans, and who was making sure we were taking enough pictures.  I learned a lot about compromise and communication and planning – the little things that can make or break a trip!

What Surprised Me: The thing that surprised me most when I was abroad was just how much there is to do in London.  It seemed that in the last few weeks of my time abroad I was trying to squeeze in every last ounce of London that I could.  The city is so large and surrounded by so many other great places to visit in England that it’s nearly impossible to fit everything in.  One thing that helped my me and my friends was making a list in the beginning of the semester of the places we wanted to see most – it helped us make sure we hit everything that we had planned on.  Definitely make sure that you spend a majority of your trip in London.  It’s great to travel around Europe, but there is also so much culture and history to explore right in London!

Hardest Part: This is going to sound really cheesy but…the hardest part of my experience was leaving.  After spending four months exploring a new city and learning all about its culture, history, and people, I had definitely developed an attachment.  Not only did I love the city, but I loved being constantly busy and always exploring something new.  I remember the last few weeks I was in London, I could hardly think about leaving the city.  But what’s nice about the BU program is that there are many BU students share that same experience with you.  Once you come back to BU, it’s like you immediately have this family of students who were abroad with you and who you can share memories and stores with.

Best Part: Markets!  Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best part, but it was definitely a highlight.  London has so many great outdoor markets in its different boroughs that are great ways to spend weekend afternoons.  Borough Market and Camden Market have excellent food, and Portobello Market has what seems like an endless amount of antique shops to explore.  Broadway market also has a mix of food vendors and hand-crafted items, and even some musicians performing on the street.

Overall though, the best part of the experience was how much of the world I got to see.  I visited a total of nine countries as well as towns around England.  It was such a great opportunity to become a better traveler, learn different cultures and histories, and see new parts of the world.  As much as I would encourage students to spend a majority of their time in London (after all, it’s such a great city with so much to do), I also encourage them to travel outside of the city or the country at least once or twice.

My Tips: Definitely utilize the social programmes! BU offers coordinated trips and events that you can purchase ahead of time for a discounted group price.  They were really helpful for trips that were difficult to get to without a car, or for finding tickets to shows that would usually be expensive. I went on planned programmes to Swan Lake, Stonehenge, Notting Hill Arts club, and a few others.

Also, be sure to budget!  London can get expensive, but it’s entirely manageable if you plan ahead.  You can find free events and things all over the city that won’t break the bank, and a quick internet search will show you affordable events all over the city.

Finally: museums are free.  This is perfect for rainy days, cold weather, or spare time.  You can explore a museum for 20 minutes and come back the next day to see more of the exhibits.  The BU buildings are also within walking distance of the Natural History Museum (which was basically my front yard for the entire semester) and the Victoria and Albert museum so there’s almost no excuse not to visit them!  There are so many museums all over London – try to visit as many as you can!

Hidden Gems: That’s a hard question – there are a ton!  During my first week in London, my roommate and I went for a walk in Hyde Park and spontaneously ended up in the Serpentine Gallery (free!).  It has really fun interactive exhibits and is fun to pop in and visit.  Another day, we ended up in Battersea park, and I wish I had known about it sooner!  It’s across the river from South Kensington (where the BU buildings are) and has fountains, open fields and sculptures.  It’s a great place for a picnic, a run, or just people-watching.

Also, if you like live music, you have to check out Ain’t Nothin But the Blues.  It’s a blues bar in SoHo that has live music every night (also free!).  I must have gone four or five times during the semester.  It’s a small little place that’s always filled with people enjoying the music and atmosphere.  It was a great activity for weeknights after school or work when my friends and I wanted to do something as a group.

And did I say markets?

Jana Amchin, London Internship Program

JanaBoroughMarketInterned in Marketing and Events at The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, Fall 2014

Internship: The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation was started by one of Britain’s most admired chefs, Jamie Oliver, to share his love of food and to educate people about the benefits of a healthy diet.  Interning at the Foundation was a wonderful experience from both a professional and a personal standpoint.  I learned so much about numerous aspects of a profession that I would love to become a part of.

The majority of the time, I was involved in the Kitchen Garden Project (KGP), where I became familiar with food education and policy for schoolchildren.  I was in charge of posting on KGP’s Twitter, as a means of communicating with our followers and promoting the important work of the Foundation.  Our objective was to attract more UK schools to the new Kitchen Garden Project website, so that they, too, could benefit from this wonderful program.  I also had the opportunity to work in other departments within the Foundation, doing various jobs such as researching and contacting young people’s centers and housing foyers across London to promote Fifteen Apprenticeship Programme’s upcoming recruitment period.  In addition, I had the chance to attend a cooking workshop and to help prepare lunch for a company meeting, as well as set up for a few of the Foundation’s fundraising supper clubs.

Interning at the Foundation only served to further my love of everything food.  From my experience here, I came to look at food from a different perspective than I had before.  I now appreciate food not only for the actual food itself, but also for what it represents- food brings people together in a way nothing else can.  I was very fortunate to have been placed at such a well-respected organization and to work with such an accomplished group of people.

I Learned: I learned not to limit myself and to step out of my comfort zone.  Living in a different country made me realize that I wanted to take advantage of all the opportunities around me- when else would I have the chance to spend four months in London?!?!  I pushed myself to explore the unknown – I went to places I didn’t think I was interested in going and did things I didn’t know I wanted to do.  Not surprisingly, I had some of the best experiences of my life!

What Surprised Me: What surprised me most was how a city that is so rich in history could be so young and modern.  London has always been considered very traditional and proper.  In reality, however, it is actually very contemporary and exciting!  It has so much to offer, including wonderful dining, shopping, and world-famous museums and theater.  Alternatively, you can choose to hang out at a local pub, walk along the Thames or explore the incredible architecture all around the city.

Hardest Part:  Fitting everything I wanted to do into my busy schedule!  Between classes and my internship, I very carefully had to pick and choose how to spend my free time.  London is a big city with many unique neighborhoods, so there were always fun and interesting things to see and do.  Of course, there are also many other amazing European cities to travel to on the weekends. There is still so much I want to do in London that I didn’t have time for.  I’ll just have to go back!

Best Part:  THE ACCENT!!  And exploring new places with my new friends!

My Tips: Definitely read Time Out London every week.  It’s filled with loads of useful information on free things happening throughout the city, good places to eat, and the best markets, bars, and shops to go to.  I enjoyed reading it on my commute to work.

Hidden Gem: It’s not really a hidden gem, but you need to go to Borough Market while you’re in London.  It’s so much fun to walk around and drool over all the delicious food at the hundreds of different stands.  It can get really crowded though, so it’s best to go during the week.  However, if you’re looking for less touristy, but equally as yummy food markets, definitely head over to Whitecross Street Market or Maltby Street Market.