Gearing Up for London

Jonathan Dweck Queen Mary University of London, England


December 16, 2014

Today marks 29 days until I takeoff for London and I wish I did not have to wait that long. I’ll be studying at the Queen Mary University of London and taking courses in both computer science and neuroscience while I’m there. I have yet to finalize my course schedule, but as of right now it looks like I’m taking introductory engineering, web technology development/ graphical user interfaces, digital audio creation and analysis, hoping to get into a London museum course, and neuromuscular biomechanics. After reading all of that you must be thinking a couple of things: how do I plan on managing that course load, will I have any time to travel, and do I have a life outside of academics. Well, I am happy to say that I do in fact have a life outside of all of this, I plan on traveling quite often (I think I have a list of 40 some-odd places), and to be quite honest I have no idea about how I’m going to manage. From what I’ve read the academic structure in London is a bit different, grades are largely dependent upon a final test, all of the professors’ names are either William or Mary, and the final exam for introduction to becoming a London taxi driver may take you a few minutes.

I chose to study abroad in London but I’d say the top two reasons are: the academic environment and the urban setting. Throughout my 20 years of life I have traveled all over the world, from Croatia to Japan to California, but I have not yet had the chance to make it to the United Kingdom. So, in hopes of adopting the British accent I decided to apply to Queen Mary and cannot wait to get there. I wouldn’t say that I am nervous, but there are a number of things that have to get done, but are currently on hold until my finals week runs it course.

From my travel experience I have a few tips that I think could be pretty helpful:

  1. Always bring a camera, whether it’s an iPhone or a disposable camera, make sure to put that at the top of your packing list whenever you plan on traveling around. There are always going to be those moments that you are going to want to capture and personally photography allows for me to experience a place in a unique way.
  2. Pack light, but pack right. I plan on exploring around, but I don’t want to be lugging around 30 pounds. Try and just pack the essentials and not everything from your dorm room. I don’t think you’ll need bed risers or a lamp when you go on a weekend trip.
  3. Explore and find those spots that nobody has ever heard about! I’m from Manhattan, NY and I am still discovering new places to go each day. There are always hidden gems and the challenge associated with finding them is underrated and extremely fun.
  4. Do your food research! My father is the absolute expert of finding the best restaurants, not just the suit and tie kind of places, but the hole in the wall types are his specialty.
  5. Wear comfortable shoes! I think this speaks for itself, but as a member of flat footers anonymous I cannot stress this enough.
  6. This may only apply to me, but for the last couple months I have been bringing my penny board (miniature skateboard) almost everywhere. I zoom through airports, cruise my way to class, and can now explore a place in a whole different way.
  7. Travel with people you can tolerate sleeping next to for a couple of days. Personally, I like traveling with a small number of people or even sometimes by myself, but it depends on what you enjoy.
  8. Don’t forget to explore the country that you are studying abroad in. You’ll be there for a few months and you want to make yourself comfortable.


England Pre-Departure