An interview with Summer School 2022 student, Josh Paez

As we launch our applications for the Queen Mary Summer School 2023, we take a look back at Josh’s experiences and perceptions from their time studying abroad with us during our Summer School 2022…

Hi! My name is Josh Paez and I’m currently a theater major with a minor in Chicanx and Latinx studies at the University of California – San Diego. My hometown is Calexico, which is located in Southern California. This past summer, I spent my time studying abroad at Queen Mary University of London where I was able to get the opportunity to learn from inside and out of the classroom setting. I was able to meet great people from different countries and learn about their experiences, which was amazing. I was also able to explore a variety of landmarks and museums including the British Museum and Buckingham Palace which were a few of my highlights along with several more. It was definitely one of the best things I’ve done and I’m thankful to the summer team at Queen Mary for making me feel comfortable throughout my six weeks there.

Q: Which classes have you taken and what have you learned from them?
A: “I took ‘Creative Writing Now’ and the ‘Global Shakespeare’ course. Both professors were very knowledgeable about the subject and you could tell they really enjoyed what they were doing. Both courses allowed me the liberty to explore new avenues of the subject that I had no prior knowledge about. The most memorable field trip I took with the creative writing course was the trip to the V&A museum. I cannot believe that museum is free! It was so interesting combining all the art, history and fashion and turning it into a creative writing piece. It really pushed me to look for more meaning in every art piece. I definitely viewed the museum differently than I would have if I just came as a tourist.”

Educational cultures
Q: Have you noticed any differences between the classroom culture in the UK versus the US?
A: “All my classmates are from different types of places which is something I have really enjoyed and did not think of much before coming here. I have never been in a classroom setting before that had people from all different countries, compared to my classrooms in California. By having people from all over the world in my classes, I am able to learn so much more than just from the professor. I am able to gain insights into so many different perspectives, which has made the discussion portion of the class that much more interesting. I would definitely say that is the biggest difference I’ve noticed, and also enjoyed the most.”

Life in London versus life in Cali
Q: How is London different from your hometown in California?
A: “The biggest thing that has stood out to me is the food. It is very different from home, considering the food quality is so much better here. I am able to eat the same amount of food as I did from home but I feel much healthier here. I enjoy trying different cuisines, especially in East London as there are lots of authentic options. In addition to the food, London brings in people from
everywhere and so many different backgrounds; not only have I picked up on how the British live and work but also so many other different cultures’ lifestyles. One thing that I noticed that is different in a bad way is the customer service…I find it not as helpful as in the US since a lot of people tend to be laid back and since the tip is included at meals, there is not much incentive to work harder and be nicer for a tip.”

East London and the campus
Q: What is your favorite thing about East London?
A: “As students we get to experience people in their everyday life, far from where most tourists go. I feel as a student here I get to see how real London residents live. I definitely think by being situated here, I am getting a much more authentic and genuine experience of London.”

Q: Would you have come to East London if not for Queen Mary?
A: “Absolutely not. If I came here as a tourist I definitely would have gone only to the likes of London Bridge and the London Eye. But I am so thankful we are situated away from the touristy things because it feels like our little escape from busy city life. It is definitely more relaxed and chill here and there is a sense of peace I really enjoy. I love going to all the parks around here; it really makes me feel like I am experiencing REAL London.”

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about the location?
A: “For London I know that this campus is considered big, but it is definitely smaller than the ones at my university. My campus back home is much bigger and I do like the feel of the smaller campus here. The architecture on the campus is so cool! Everything feels much older but in a good way, like ancient architecture.”

Q: What are some things you have enjoyed regarding our campus?
A: “The residences reception area being open 24 hours is definitely extremely helpful in terms of needing assistance. I also really enjoyed the cleaning service every week, since they make our bed and change out our towels.”


Q: Have you ever traveled out of the country before?
A: “This is my first time out of the country, therefore definitely my first time in London! I have learned so much by doing this on my own. I feel much more independent now and definitely want to travel more places after this.”

Q: How did it feel traveling ‘post-Covid’?
A: “ I was excited about how there are no restrictions really left here in London, so it feels like pre-Covid times. I wasn’t as scared about traveling as some of my peers because during the pandemic I still had to commute places and go out and get groceries so I was not locked in like others. I tried not to let Covid take a lot away from me, and I’ve been making the most out of
being in London, in terms of seeing things.”


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