Free-Falling on LSE

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When I received the admissions letter in 2005, Harvard was already a familiar place. Even before I applied, I had visited the university, checked out the campus party scene, attended information sessions, met my admissions officer, and gotten involved in the Cuban student group events. I thus began my undergraduate career with a fairly accurate sense of what awaited me in the next four years.


Arriving at LSE

My introduction to LSE was contrastingly abrupt. Before I knew it, classes arrived and I saw myself in Houghton Street absorbing everything for the first time. Of course, I was unprepared for the rushed course selection process, and the unavailability of professor and course evaluations as a public guide for students did not make the task easier. I was surprised to find that there were virtually no British people in my classes, as the majority of my classmates came from other European countries and North America. The school calendar shocked me; my unthinkable number of holidays included two months to study for finals!

A less pleasant find was the requirement to pay high fees to join student organizations. And I really can’t define how I felt when I learned that a 70-something was in fact an excellent grade, despite the existence of the traditional 100-point grading scale. Slowly yet inevitably, I got used to reading lists based mostly on British scholarship and to the impractical nature of International Relations as a discipline.

In retrospect, I regret not doing my homework. Moving to a different country and enrolling in a new institution can be difficult enough already, and my transition to the British academic system would have benefited tremendously from a little more research.


Maria is a guest blogger for Foreign Students. She posts regular updates of her experiences as a postgraduate student at LSE in London. Click here to see her older posts.

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