When I was applying to colleges, I was confident that I wanted a small college experience. I didn't even consider colleges with more than a few thousand students, and I ended up at a school (that I love) of 1,600 students. Fast forward almost exactly three years, and here I am, one of 25,000 students at Queen Mary, University of London. Now that I'm here, I've seen the value in both the small college and large university experience.
Queen Mary is the only university in London with a residential campus, so there are lots of societies (the British term for clubs) and on-campus events, no matter the day or time. After spending last semester abroad unaffiliated with a university, it's been wonderful to have campus groups like the Queen Mary Orchestra to join, fulfilling my creative side and satiating my eagerness to hang out with real live Brits!
The dorm life here is a bit different from typical dorm life in America. In London, it's unheard of to share a room with a roommate. I spoke to some Brits about my positive experiences with roommates, and they couldn't believe that sharing a room could possibly be enjoyable. Anyway, at Queen Mary, all students have single rooms with private bathrooms! That's a first for me. My five flatmates (basically hallmates) share our kitchen at the end of the hallway, which makes for a nice space for conversation. Queen Mary's diversity is quite apparent within my flat: we have a student from Italy, a student from China, two British students and one American "associate student" aka study abroad student.
Overall, life in my flat feels quite private and peaceful. It's quite a contrast to the chaos and constant conversation I'm used to in residential spaces back home. I'm excited to get back to communal living for senior year of college, but I'm enjoying the quiet while it lasts.
When I envisioned classes at a large research university, I imagined massive lecture halls with hundreds of half-awake students. Instead, I'm happy to report that class sizes are still small and participation is common, even though there isn't a participation grade here. It's impressed me how willing people are to share, just because they have some insight to share and not because they're rewarded for speaking. I think this improves the quality of people's contributions because they are coming from a place of interest, rather than pressure.
Hopefully, this fills in some of the details about life at Queen Mary, and more broadly, about life at a British university. Because of my choice to study abroad, I have begun to understand a different part of the world, and I've experienced the university lifestyle that I never thought I'd get to participate in.
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<p>I'm a big fan of tea (matcha, rooibos, black...I love them all) so I'm looking forward to drinking my weight in tea while in London! I'll also be on the lookout for the best vegan spots in London; I've heard there are quite a few to choose from!</p>