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University College London: a red brick building

This week I interviewed my friend who is doing an exchange program in University College London, a popular study abroad program though the economics department at Dartmouth.

How did you decide to apply to this program?

First, I wanted to be able to take advantage of Darmouth's resources. I know there won't be many opportunities for me to live in London for this cheap ever again because Dartmouth subsidized us for food and board as well as paying for our tuition since I am on financial aid. Second, I was interested in UCL's economy program because they emphasize radical thinking. I have only taken core economics classes so far at Dartmouth, so I appreciate the flexibility of the economics department here. For example, I was able to do a research project documenting the relationship between wages and changes in copper prices in Mongolia, my home country. Third, I also wanted to be involved with the debate here because the debate is the oldest society in UCL and the UK is active in competitive debating. They regularly go to finals in world championships. They are also very open and accessible, with no try-outs, at least for UCL. 

What classes are you taking?

I am taking four classes this term. One is called History of Economic Thought. One of my favorite classes is called Economics of the Public Sector, for which I was able to write my essay arguing why direct cash transfers are the best way to reduce income inequality. I appreciated the freedom they gave us to structure our arguments. I also took Developmental Geography because economics classes usually shy away from discussing the complicated, social, and moral sides of economic policies, such as "Is it fair to tax people?" I had three different lecturers for this class, and they were all amazing and inspiring. They studied cool stuff like how public radio affected development in West Africa. It made me want to explore more geography classes at Dartmouth. I also took International Trade, for which I wrote a research paper about Mongolia.

What is your living situation like?

I live in UCL dorms. I have a single room, which is convenient. The dorms also have catered food that tastes great! The staff who workes ere is also really nice!

What is your favorite thing about your study abroad experience so far?

I enjoy living in a city. At Dartmouth, we are somewhat constrained in terms of social activity. It was cool to go museum hopping and see different parks and galleries in London. I was lucky enough to have friends who were also doing study abroad programs in London!

What are the challenges of the program?

I think the challenges I faced apply to any other study abroad program. We are in a completely different country in a different university with a different system. We are also here for a term, so we need to adapt quickly. Basic stuff like navigating the city, the food, and the social scene can be difficult. Balancing academics and social life is challenging.

What are you looking forward to in your study abroad?

Though the program is ending, I am excited for winter in London. I bought tickets to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland to go with my girlfriend when she visits. I also want to see the Kew Botanical Gardens and Richmond Park. There is so much to do in London!

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