By Anastasia Kharitonova | Photo by Daniel de Koning
The London School of Economics has a famous study abroad program — The General Course — that allows students from overseas universities to spend a full academic year at the institution. This experience allowed me to fully feel like a part of LSE, find friends both among exchange and full-time students, and participate in clubs and activities.
The General Course is definitely not a conventional study abroad program that involves traveling every other weekend — you really have to keep up with your studies. The academic program is demanding and different from CC. You have to manage your time effectively as there are almost no deadlines throughout the year and grades are mostly determined by final exams at the end of the year.
LSE is a great intellectual hub that hosts a variety of renowned academics, politicians, economists, sociologists, and artists. For example, during my time there, Angelina Jolie, Joseph Stiglitz, and Thomas Piketty gave talks on campus. Also, one thing I really liked about students at LSE is how involved they are in extracurricular activities. I tried a variety of fun things myself: being a manager for the Russian Business Week, attending a Women in Business conference, and taking a couple of pole-dancing classes.
The one thing that I was not expecting at the beginning was the level of competition for some of the clubs. In order to get in, you have to apply and successfully pass an interview. As for London, its only drawback for me was the weather. Despite that, I enjoyed the fact that it is a cultural hub — you can meet people from all over the world, visit a lot of museums, travel quite easily, and walk around the city (I really do struggle in the U.S. with this). Moreover, living in the UK during Brexit was eye-opening. I am glad I had the opportunity to understand this issue from within.
While I am really grateful for my experience at LSE, I have learned to appreciate my time at CC more. I realized that what we have at Colorado College — small classes, professors who care about your progress, effective support systems, even free printing and gym — is definitely not a worldwide norm. While attending LSE was an incredible experience, nothing can compare to the things that make CC feel like home.