When I first began my application process to study abroad in London, I had no idea which schools to apply to. One of my good friends (who also studied abroad) mentioned UCL, which had only recently become an option offered by my home university in California. Almost immediately I knew it was the right fit for me though- from the academic renown to the location in the city, so I was delighted when I received my acceptance.
My biggest fear moving forward was navigating a completely foreign academic system. These, and a few others were immediately soothed by the tremendous support I received from my host department- BASc. Owain (an advisor) and the other faculty were not only willing to help me, but reached out several times during the preparation process to make sure I was on the right track. I had a few issues with picking and getting into my classes, and Owain personally reached out to other advisors and departments, researched courses for me to take, and enrolled me in them himself just to take it off my plate.
Speaking of courses, I was also pleased with the classes I took. As a BASc affiliate, two of them had to be within the department, so I chose to take two research courses on interdisciplinary and quantitative research methods. The courses were insightful, thought-provoking and allowed me to engage and get to know the other BASc students much more. What I love about this department is that it feels like a tight-knit student community- everyone seems to know each other, and during any day of the week you can find many of them congregated into the common room hanging out. There are also several social/academic events put on by BASc during the term, and they even bring in free (quality) donuts every Thursday evening. The professors were also great- my personal favorite was Hannah Fry, the quantitative research methods instructor who is bubbly and brainy individual with a passion for research. Additionally, I took a human behavioral ecology course as well as a psychology course on individual differences- both of which I enjoyed.
I’ve aggregated so many good memories during my 6-month tenure that it’s hard to choose any one to talk about. Probably my best decision while studying abroad though was to really integrate myself into the student community. A lot of study abroad students try to just see and travel as much as they can, without really getting to know their host institution/city and its inhabitants. However, one of the first things I did after coming over was join the swim team, which instantly provided me a group of people to meet and hang out with, while also partaking in my favorite sport. I ended up joining the competitive team, and got to swim at the olympic pool once a week.
The biggest highlight of the swim season was when I competed in the 50 backstroke at the big ‘London League’ competition with our rival school (Kings College) and placed second only to another UCL swimmer, causing us to sweep the race. We ended up winning the meet, which was really exciting. To anyone considering applying to the Arts and Sciences program for affiliate study, I would 100% say do it. This department provides such strategic advantages that I only found out about after coming over. The department is small and tight-knit, and the students are welcoming, intelligent and passionate. You can easily find a group of friends in the bunch. Also, don’t underestimate having a common room to study or relax in pretty much any time during the week. Additionally, like I said, when coming into BASc you are provided with the best academic counseling that I personally have ever seen. UCL overall truly is 'London’s Global University’, in the sense that I have never met so many people from around the world, together in one institution (and I attend a very large University in the States).
London is such an incredible city, and UCL is smack-dab in the center of it all. You cannot go wrong with this institution, and I wish everyone had this incredible opportunity. Good luck, and just enjoy yourself!