My study abroad program, CIEE Open Campus, gives you the opportunity to study in multiple cities within one semester. Their block schedule allows for this by having their students take two classes every six weeks, for a total of six classes in 18 weeks. This means that if you want, you could study abroad in three separate cities within one semester, since CIEE Open Campus has locations all over Europe. While I loved this idea, I was intent on studying abroad in Paris for the full semester in order to become fluent.
Sadly, I ran into some issues with my visa while I was in Paris. While CIEE staff helped me try to help resolve the problem, it soon became clear that with the immigration crisis facing France today, no government official was willing to be lenient with me. As understandable as this was, I was a bit disheartened, as my stay in Paris would be cut six weeks short. However, thanks to the block system set in place, this did not mean I was going to be sent home. I had the option to study in one of their other European locations for the final block. I chose London, and while I have only been here for a week I can truthfully say I am content with the outcome of an unfortunate situation.
After getting off the train at St. Pancras station, I was dreading having to lug all of my bags to King’s Cross accommodation, only to realize it was a mere few blocks away. As I walked to the residence I realized I was basically in central London, with numerous restaurants, pubs, and people lining the streets. While the residence in Paris is a bit nicer than in London, it is in a calm suburb with scattered cafés and restaurants. So, living in an area that has so much to offer upon stepping out of your housing is a great change of scenery.
Another drastic change was receiving a roommate. In Paris I had a larger room without a roommate (and a maid!), while in London, it’s the opposite. For some this could be problematic, however I was fortunate enough to click with my roomie. It ended up working in my favor, as she has been here for the previous two blocks, and has introduced me to fellow CIEE students, taken me out to her favorite spots, and given me the general low-down.
After a couple days of exploring London, it was time for my first day of school: block three. While in Paris we took the metro to school each day, because of the relative closeness of CIEE London, we were instructed to walk. It only took about 20 minutes until I arrived at the newly constructed center. I was astonished at how chic the facilities were; equipped with modern art, a garden, and comfy couches. The staff, just like CIEE Paris, was incredibly helpful and eager to get me acclimated to London life. While I have only had two classes, they are both structured similarly to the other classes I have taken, with the exception of a few additional homework assignments.
The last aspect of CIEE London with a significant difference to that of Paris is, of course, the city itself. London is noticeably bigger than Paris, and therefore more spread out. It is also much more similar to a city you may have visited in the states, with many familiar brands, restaurants, and, obviously, the same language. With that being said, there are still countless amounts of intriguing culture differences from both Paris and Chicago that I have yet to uncover. Hopefully, by next post, I will be able to rattle off a few British expressions and eccentricities.
Lucy Teruel is a junior majoring in communications and minoring in political science. Born and raised on the North Side of Chicago, Lucy loves music, French, shopping, going to the gym and traveling. She’s also an avid sports fan with a particular penchant for the Chicago Cubs. She hopes to one day become a sportscaster, so don’t be surprised if you catch her on the nightly news a few years from now.