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THE UK: Before you leave - Must read

Studying in the heart of London


I study international relations at an institution located in central London, specifically in Notting Hill. If you immediately thought of the Notting Hill film starring Hugh Grant, you're exactly right, the bookstore in the movie is very close to my campus!

The programs that I take here are quite interesting; my classes cover issues surrounding politics and foreign affairs. In a week we study in campus for 15 hours, which is required by the immigration office for international students. One class goes on for 3 hours, and I normally get days off from my time table.  This term for example, I only go to college 3 days. I use the opportunity from my days off to work part-time and study.


The class atmosphere in UK is definitely different to Indonesia. Our tutors here expect students to be active in expressing opinions during classes. In a way, there is more of a 'multi-dimensional' feel in the teaching / learning process. Students are encouraged to think critically and creatively. We are also given 'reading lists' of book or journals which we are expected to read during the terms. The topics of seminars and classes are usually linked to the readings we are asked to look at. 


The marking system at our institution is course-based, where we are given 2-3 tasks for each subject. They can be either essays or presentations. Normally, for a single question we would need to give an essay of 2500-3000 words, or a presentation of not more than 20-30 minutes. This is undoubtedly the one thing that most often gives me headaches!  


It is not easy to write thousands of words using a language that isn't your mother tongue, especially if you are expected to use a formal style of writing. Fortunately, our campus provides 'support' classes to students who might need tips about essay/report writing. Our library also provides numerous guide books which can be very useful. In addition to our library, I also enjoy visiting local libraries around the campus or in the area where I live to look for further sources for my assignments' research.

The lecturers in my college are all very nice and helpful. Fortunately for us, because the sizes of our classes are small, it is very easy to interact with them. Social life on campus is also great. The most interesting aspect from it is the diversity of people I get to meet and be friends with. Because the location of the college is in the centre of London, it made it possible for me to make a big circle of international friends! 

Although our institution is considerably small, its strategic location makes it very reliable, especially when it comes to deciding what to eat for lunch! Usually I bring my own food from home to save money, but if not, the choice of (affordable) restaurants near the campus are a lot so I never get confused!

Studying in the heart of London feels very 'alive', but sometimes I do wonder what it feels like to study in a campus where the environment is less busy and quiet...? 


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