LYON: Acclimating to school outside of New Jersey


Opinions Column: London by Knight


Studying abroad allows you to experience a life you’re not used to.

Until just a few weeks ago, I had never left the United States. Although I traveled around the country throughout my life for a variety of reasons, mostly soccer-related, in my travels I never experienced anything that deviated too far from what I was used to. Yes, I encountered the most beautiful sights in America and I’ve heard so many variations of American-English, in addition to other languages, of course. I’ve been to Hawaii, and I’ve traced up and down the entire east coast. I’ve lived my whole life in the United States until now, and I had never spent more than three weeks away from New Jersey.

I have been living in London for three weeks now and the United Kingdom has redefined accessibility for me. I know I am lucky to live within an hour’s grasp of two bustling cities in New Jersey, but here I was able to successfully travel to the Netherlands this past weekend and immerse myself in a truly awe-inspiring and educational experience. I learned about the history of the city of Amsterdam for the first time with both my ears and my eyes. It is so much more than a pretty city. Getting there, I spent less time in the air than I would spend staring out the window on a NJ Transit train from New Brunswick to New York Penn Station. Also, here I book a round-trip flight to Ireland for a fraction of the amount it would cost to trek to and from the Midwest.

I get to experience England and the many treasures this country kindly offers, both in and outside of the city. I can hop on a cheap train ride to beach-y Brighton or the English countryside, and the options within the city I get to call home for a few months are absolutely endless. There is so much to do and see here, from theatre and parks, to markets and the historic sights everyone associates with this. There is nothing quite like stepping outside of my flat onto Briset Street to a buzzing gush of pleasant wind and a camel-toned trench coat somewhere in sight (probably) to begin another journey, big or small, and experience something new.

On top of everything in England, there are so many other countries and cultures just a cheap leap away. Though my time here is devoted to my studies at the forefront, to be able to live the way I have been, studying in the week and traveling to a new place every weekend, is mind-blowing to me. A few weeks ago I could not believe I was so close to leaving for another country, and here I am now trying new things and exploring new places.

Being able to travel to other countries is only one part of this life-changing equation. Classes have just started for me in late September, and the schooling system is something I wasn’t accustomed to. Lectures only happen once a week, with some classes having separate small-group “tutorials” where the lectures are expanded upon and drilled into a student’s mind to optimize understanding of the material. All the terminology is a bit different and confusing for an American student, too. For example, classes are called modules here, and majors are called courses. Some classes that are condensed into one semester at Rutgers are to be taken throughout the entire year at City, University of London. Though there are “freshers” here (which is a term for new students), there are only first-years, second-years and third-years enrolled in an undergraduate program, that is three years of schooling as opposed to the four I am familiar with.

My school life at university here is dramatically different to my life at Rutgers.

Abigail Lyon is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in economics and theater arts. Her column, “London by Knight,” runs on alternate Thursdays. 


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Abigail Lyon

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