“I have learned about cultures and ways of living that I had never conceived of before.”

Hi! My name is Grace Lynch and this semester I have been studying abroad at Queen Mary University of London! I originally grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but chose to pursue my degree in Biochemistry at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts – where I’ve lived for the last two years.

Navigating London and my new campus throughout the past few months has been quite a journey, but one that I am eternally grateful to have gone on. Despite some fear in the beginning, I was lucky enough to have been embraced by the supportive community at Queen Mary, and have gotten to know some incredible people along the way.

If you are considering joining this institution to study in the future, I will share some of my experiences with you so that you can get a better idea of what life is really like here! First of all, the most awesome thing, in my opinion, is the incredible diversity. Never before have I been exposed to such a wide range of people, from literally every type of background that you can imagine. I’ve gotten to learn more about religious customs from firsthand recounts after only ever having read about the practices in books; I’ve gotten amazing travel advice and met people from countries all around the world; further, I have learned about cultures and ways of living that I had never conceived of before. London, and especially the East End, where Queen Mary is located, has an incredible mix of people and a plethora of new cuisines to try. While walking around the campus or in nearby neighborhoods, it is common to hear a million different languages. I have been prompted to think so much about the way that languages drive the way that we experience the world, and I have been able to compare my thought processes to those who have just recently learned my language.

Another concept that became significantly integrated into my daily life was the sheer number of people and things that constantly surrounded me. As a person who is prone to FOMO (fear of missing out), it was initially hard for me to say no to taking advantage of any opportunity that presented itself to me – leading me to feel quite worn out and tired. Luckily, I was able to adjust my mindset quickly to recognize that I needed to slow down a bit. However if you are someone who gets easily distracted from focusing on school by the endless number of events happening around you, I would recommend coming into this experience with a bit of a different mindset so that you can continue to excel in your school work. Life in London is definitely a lot busier and eventful than I had previously been used to, but, to me that is part of the charm.

When it comes to classes, or modules as they say, the pace and demand of the work was definitely different than I was used to. At Queen Mary, I found myself spending a significantly less amount of time in the classroom – as there is more emphasis on independent work that is not based on what is presented in the lecture. This required me to spend more time organizing my studies instead of having them organized for me. There are less assignments to keep you accountable and on track, which means that it is up to you to stay on top of things to be prepared for midterms or final exams when they inevitably roll around.

While there isn’t a big sports culture at this school, I found there were a wide variety of societies and school-sponsored events that I was able to join in order to meet people who shared my interests. After touring around the activities fair at the beginning of the semester, I was able to join the WhatsApp groups for a multitude of different groups, such as the book club, salsa dancing society, food society, and more.

Speaking of food, the city of London is basically a foodie’s heaven. Between all the markets, incredible restaurants, and beautiful cafes, I have indulged in some of the most delectable dishes that I have ever had the pleasure of consuming. I believe that there may be the most diversity in food options out of anywhere in the whole world (yes, New York included), and you can try new cuisines from all different cultures. My favorite new place quickly became the German Dönor Kebab shops that are on seemingly every corner, serving up mouth-watering sandwiches and wraps. There is also a really wide selection of Indian food, which I’ve heard is reportedly quite authentic (depending on the restaurant, of course).

Overall, my experience at Queen Mary has changed my life in a countless number of ways and shaped my mindset into something completely unique and different. I am so grateful for all the amazing people I have met, and the things that I don’t think I ever would have learned had I chosen somewhere else to study. While London’s East End might be a bit crowded and bustling, I was able to make a wonderful home here amidst all the happenings. I am terribly sad to be coming up on the end of the term, but I will forever appreciate the gifts that this institution and city have given me. I hope this information has been helpful, and that you take it under consideration as you choose to decide where to study abroad! This has been one of, if not the most, enriching experience of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.


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