Q. What apprehensions did you face when you decided to move away from home and to a different country? What should an Indian student keep in mind before deciding to undertake a course abroad?
I have lived in Delhi all my life with my parents, I went to school and college here and I have never lived alone. The first thing that stung my parents more than me was ‘how will she manage?’ more so as I am the younger child. The offer was from LSE, so there was no question of not going. First thing that came to mind was that what if I don’t make any friends here and I don’t fit in. Education in India is quite different from UK, after all.
I didn’t have any preconceived notions as such about UK, I did know that I will be living in Central London for a year and that itself was enough to make me happy.
So the most important thing before taking a course abroad is to ask yourself “how do I see myself 5-10 years down the line?” and then think about how will the course help you in achieving that. Studying abroad is expensive and it is really important to be sure of what you want out of that 1-2 year/s that you will be spending there. Everything else can be managed
Q. How is the education system in UK different from that in India? What changes must India begin inculcating immediately?
I wouldn’t say that education system in India is bad per se as it prepares us to work under pressure and to work hard. What it doesn’t prepare us for is to work consistently, which is extremely important when you are studying abroad. There’s hardly any written examination for my course but every week is important. One has to be consistent in the coursework. Research agendas are taken very seriously here, something that is a little loose in an undergrad in India.
The changes that India should begin with are promoting knowledge-based exams and not one that’s based on how much one can cram in a fortnight. Scoring in India is comparatively easier because of this very reason. Also, incorporating a dissertation/research project in all degrees so that students can have a basic understanding of what it is to conduct a research independently. In my undergrad degree we had this and it has been helping me in my master’s program.
Q. How would you say your degree at LSE compares to similar degrees in other institutes in terms of syllabus/ subject content and future prospects?
I received offers from other universities but the Gender Institute at LSE is the largest research and teaching unit of its kind in Europe, plus LSE is a bigger brand. So it was only logical to go with LSE over other options that I had. Other universities do not share LSE’s love for gender except SOAS, which is perhaps, can be considered. LSE provides us with a wide range of courses to choose from and has the best teaching faculty who make sure that every student is comfortable with what they are doing.
Q. One often hears about how international and diverse LSE is, is it true? If settling in and feeling at home is the easy part at LSE, what is the hardest?
It is absolutely true. LSE is extremely diverse and multicultural. One can here all languages spoken on campus. Like London, it is a mixing pot of cultures. It was a culture shock in reverse for me. There are so many Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and a few Nepalis too that you will never feel like you are away from home at least as long as you are on campus. Settling in is easy.
The harder part is keeping track of all the events that are going on, you would want to go to all, you will miss the notice of some that you wanted to attend as there are so many things going on all the time. Also keeping pace with the coursework and the required readings for the course. LSE keeps you busy with all of these things.
Q. What is a typical day at campus like? What do students do when not attending classes? Are extracurriculars and sports an active part of the lifestyle of an LSE student?
A typical day at LSE would be running to the campus for a 9AM, grabbing a coffee from the LSE café on the way, attending the classes for the day, then maybe take a short breather with friends either in the café or the bar. Mostly there are many workshops to attend that LSE Careers or the Student well being Centre organizes. Sports, not so much but extra-curriculars are definitely a part of a student’s life at LSE. Music in particular, is taken seriously here.
Q.Being a college student living in one of the most popular destinations in the world, how do you manage your finances apart from college tuition? What do you find yourself spending the most on?
I cook at home, so for me I think I spend the most on travel, which cannot be avoided. Everybody has to spend on travel as it is quite expensive and is something, which is absolutely crucial. You can cut that down by going for a student oyster and a railcard. People who don’t cook are also spending a good amount of money on food. It is always helpful to keep an eye for various discounts, buying an NUS (National Union of Students) card, etc.
Q. What has been your most profound memory at LSE so far?
The parties that our departments organize for us in the beginning and at the end of term are always the best and memorable. The friends that I have made here are the ones that I am positive will be for life. Spending time with them, even if in the library, studying is the most profound memory that I have. We are just half way through our course; I hope that we make many more.