My decision to do the summer school program at the London School of Economics and Political Science was one of a personal challenge. Doing a three-week intensive course on the laws and functioning of the European Union on a semester break probably wouldn’t be on most university students list of things to do and I did underestimate how much work would be actually involved. Normally, my contact hours for my double degree at UTS are around 10 hours per week however at LSE it was 4 and a half hours per day: a 1.5 hour tutorial in the morning followed by a 3 hour lecture in the afternoon, accompanied with required readings every day, 2 assignments and an exam to finish the course. Automatically I thought to myself, Sarah you are way in over your head especially since I hadn’t done a written exam since the HSC. Unlike a lot of the other programs BUiLD ran this break, I was the single representative of UTS at LSE – I have done a lot of travelling alone so I wasn’t nervous going into the course. But as the course progressed and probably not to the surprise of those who know my Swiss ‘do everything early’ work ethic it turned out to be a month of, to quote Kylie Jenner ‘realising things’.
The London School of Economics is situated in the heart of London; a five-minute walk to the theatre district, Soho and Piccadilly Circus. It was a 20 minute ride on the infamous London tube from where I was staying in West Kensington. My days began this way, learning to always get the second train as it wouldn’t be as full as the first. Followed by training every morning in the LSE student unions gym – besides the usual confused male gaze of a girl lifting heavy weights, it was my routine to prepare myself for the long day of learning.
Having only three weeks to scratch the surface of the EU was intense. My usual work ethic is that I start an assignment 4-6 weeks before its due and have it done minimum 1 week before its due date. Having only a week to do an essay worth 20% and a week to study for an exam that was worth 80% was something that made me realise how much I am actually capable of.
It wasn’t all work though, I made sure I had time to do things that had always made my time in London before so much fun. Going to see Phantom of the Opera, eating at a multitude of Vegan restaurants, spending hours at Camden markets and even training with some British powerlifters made my time even more enjoyable than I imagined.
In terms of studying, I couldn’t have chosen a more perfect time to study the EU in London because right in the middle of the course was the UK’s referendum on whether to remain in EU. Being actually in the capital city of a country divided on whether or not to stay within the EU and learning from academics involved with the EU was unparalleled to any learning experience I have had. To wake up the morning of the results in complete shock at the decision and gathering around the radio to listen to David Cameron’s resignation speech due to the leave vote was being part of history.
Within 24 hours London dramatically changed; with the people of London’s constituency voting remain, the shock of the decision was felt immediately. As the day progressed so much was happening; the multitude of resignations from the Labor party, calls for a second referendum as well as the overall concern for the future of the United Kingdom itself with calls for London itself as well as Scotland to leave the UK. There wasn’t the same rushed vibe on the tube, no one was talking or reading the papers. The city was in disbelief and our lecturer himself said that ‘academics now need to do soul searching’.
I received an overall A for my work and that is something I am so proud of. My time in London was something I won’t forget; whether it be from what I achieved in terms of education or just for my overall well-being, it was an experience that will stick with me