A Badger’s Guide to Navigating School in London

Studying abroad is a wonderful experience, and I would 100% recommend it to everyone as something they should do during their college career. However, after spending almost three years at Madison, adjusting to a new school and a new city has proven quite challenging.  But don’t get me wrong, stepping outside of Madison for a semester definitely has major perks. Despite only being abroad for one month so far, I’m already dreading leaving my new home.

1. This is Not a Vacation

When you only have class three days a week, it’s easy to forget that you actually are a full-time student. The lack of midterms also doesn’t help convince you to forego an afternoon of exploring instead of locking yourself in the library. You get one or two exams if you’re lucky, to prove you were actually paying attention in class and not on searching the Internet every lecture to find the best travel plans. But hey, I’ll take cramming for one exam over three or four any day. Sorry Madison, let’s cut down on exams next semester, please.2. Worship the 50 Minute Lectures

I never thought I’d say this, but after sitting through my four-hour neuroscience lecture, I must concede that Madison’s standard 50 minute lectures aren’t that bad. Sure, you can almost always find me on my phone about 25 minutes in, but they’re nothing compared to sitting in the same seat in a cold lecture hall for four straight hours pretending that you’re not already asleep. And don’t even think about snacking to keep yourself awake; the lecture halls are snack-less prisons.3. Traveling on the Tube or the 80

If you’re planning on taking the 80 on a rainy or snowy day, think again. Especially if you’re living near the freshman dorms, you’re bound to get trampled by the stampede of freshman. Now, imagine the busiest 80 you’ve every seen and multiply it by two. My first day of class in London I made the mistake of trying to get on the underground rail—the Tube—after my evening class. After waiting for two trains and then cramming myself onto the busiest train imaginable, I finally was able to start my trek home. It still gives me nightmares.4. Killing Time Between Classes

Killing time between classes no longer means wandering around Library Mall or trying to battle off the crowds at Union South to get in line at Ginger Root. Between museums, the food, the sights, and the wine in London (and, frankly, almost any European city) there’s so much to do that it’s hard to convince yourself going back to class is actually worth it. Cliché alert, but the city really is your playground.5. Weekends Aren’t for Studying

Trade your Saturday afternoons spent at College Library and Starbucks on State for long weekends in Spain, Italy, or Amsterdam. When a flight to Ireland takes almost as long as a walk to the Capitol building, why not boost your Insta game with pictures of your amazing travels? After all, in six months you’ll be back home where the most 'gram-worthy building is the ceiling of the Historical Society’s library.6. Making Friends

Let’s be real since Madison is a state school, most of the people you’ll meet are from the Wisconsin or Minnesota. I personally think it’s a big deal when I meet someone from outside of the Midwest. But in London, people are from everywhere. In my classes back at Madison, I may have a hard time finding someone from Illinois, let alone a different country. But here I’ve met people from Greece, Poland, Spain, England, Australia, America, China, and many more places in my classes.

From weekend trips to meeting tons of new friends, my first month into my study abroad experience has been great. I think anyone studying abroad can testify that the hardest part isn’t adjusting to the different time zone, but it’s convincing yourself that your time away from Madison is still technically school and not just the six-month vacation.