Polar Opposites

In London, The Art of Travel Fall 2014, Tips by Evan Powell

While struggling to adjust to NYU my freshman year, I found myself wishing I had looked at more universities with enclosed campuses. I had many friends at small liberal arts schools befriending other students easily, interacting with faculty on the daily, and feeling a strong sense of shared community. That was not at all the experience I had, and it really took me a while to accept NYU’s idiosyncrasies. Though I debated transferring my sophomore year, I stayed because I realized how much I value the incredible opportunities NYU has to offer—be it the wide variety of classes, a strong selection of professors, and the many possibilities that come with studying at a Global Network University.

For me, NYU London is the polar opposite to NYU Washington Square—in ways that perhaps decrease some of the desires I had my freshman year. While NYU London may not have an enclosed campus in which all buildings are located on the same grounds, most of NYU London exists within the Academic Centre—6 Bedford Square. This converted Georgian House used to belong to Lord Eldon (Lord Chancellor), so as you can imagine the design is quite sophisticated. The ornate spiral staircases, gold-painted chandeliers, grand draped windows, tall mirrors, and intricately framed artworks dispersed throughout the building add character in ways that truly create a wonderful academic experience. Located in the heart of Bloomsbury, this characteristic is a reminder of the many famous literary figures who have written in this neighborhood.

As the home to most NYU London courses, the Academic Centre provides a consistency that makes it extremely easy to befriend other students as you often run into each other in the lounges, halls, computer labs, and other study facilities. But perhaps my favorite aspect of the Academic Centre is the way in which the faculty is so approachable. Most of NYU London’s faculty members and academic staff have offices within the building, so should you ever have a question, problem, or complaint, the solutions can most likely be provided on the premises.

As mentioned in a previous post of mine, I was housed in the outsourced dorm about 30 minutes from the Academic Centre. Nido King’s Cross is an international student housing dorm open to anyone attending university in London—with the 2nd and 3rd floors reserved for NYU London students. Though I hated my tiny studio room (way too small for two people to share) and the long walk to campus proved to be a nuisance at times, I have to admit, the student lounge at Nido is awesome. This lounge made Nido quite the social dorm. Because one can freely drink in the lounge, people from other dorms would often come over on weekends to share a pint—or two. Not to mention, the location at King’s Cross is a perfect seeing as there is always a bus or Tube line that will get you to your destination—and even the Eurostar should you want to go to Paris! I have to say, Nido is not for everyone. Not that it’s exclusive, but rather many people hate the accommodations so much that it entirely affects their experience. Should you desire an apartment style dorm with quiet study facilities, a quiet location, and a shorter walk to campus, I would say Byron is the way to go.

I was actually amazed at all of the opportunities offered by NYU London. At the beginning of the semester, the student life team allotts each student 100 credits to use towards cultural outings, day trips, and other festivities. I would say, even if you don’t know whether or not you can make these opportunities, make sure to use all of your credits once the appointments open up. These events fill up fast! Once scheduled, there are always waitlists should you need to cancel for any reason. And often times, you might need to cancel, because when the appointments open up, most students don’t know whether or not they will be going on weekend trips. On that note, I would say, wait to plan any weekend trips until the end of the first month. I find that students at NYU London tend arrive with intentions of travelling every weekend. This is not realistic! For one, travelling that much is exhausting. Two, save your money as you will need it to last the semester. The exchange rate is particularly unfavorable to Americans. Third, just because you’re studying abroad, doesn’t mean you’re on vacation. I found the classes at NYU London to be equally is a challenging, if not more. Make sure you look through your syllabi and plan ahead as much as possible.

Lastly, I would highly recommend getting involved with the societies at UCLU or ULU. These are the student unions of the universities nearby. The highlight of my semester came when I first befriended British students. My abroad experiences truly became broader and have since developed some wonderful relationships that I plan to continue upon returning to the States. I found that NYU London began to feel like an American bubble abroad, and it was not until I broke out of that bubble, that I truly felt as though I had immersed myself in British life.

In general, make the most of your opportunities and don’t waste any time.

Image source

  • St. Pancras International: Evan Powell