Southeastern Louisiana University’s London study abroad students arrived safely back home late Saturday night with many stories to tell about their experiences in the United Kingdom as well as some wise advice for future students considering study abroad trips.
“Be prepared to walk a lot. Try to pack light, take it from someone who knows. Be prepared for rain as well as hot and cold weather because you never quite know what you’re going to get there,” said theatre student Kaci Davis.
“I second packing light, but at the same time there are some things you can bring with you so you don’t have to buy it there and have it cost more: small bottles of shampoo/conditioner, shaving gel, razors, etc—of course these should go in your check-in luggage, not carry-on,” suggested sociology major Bonnie May.
One of the major difficulties students had while abroad was communicating back home. Access to wireless internet is not readily available in London. This proved to be quite a hassle when students needed to upload homework assignments or communicate with family back home. Students also found out that most of their cell phone providers did not cover international calls therefore rendering their cell phones useless.
“Be prepared to cut back a lot on communication if you don’t already have an international phone. We had trouble getting online and I had trouble finding a phone that would work in London to temporarily replace my Blackberry,” advised recent Southeastern graduate Kathleen Kelly.
Some students remedied this problem by buying pay-as-you-go phones in London. These pre-paid phones offered cheap minutes to call anywhere in the world and could be easily topped off at any convenience store when minutes started to run low.
“If there are some things that you won’t absolutely need, leave it at home. Especially if it is to entertain yourself because you will barely spend time at the dorms and when you do, you are mostly sleeping or getting ready to leave again,” said communication student Tiffany Baptiste.
Theatre graduate Will Stacey also advised, “Bring a lot of extra money! There are a lot of cool things to do in London but it’s very expensive.”
Sophomore, Jessica LeBlanc, also recommended to bring at least one nice outfit because you never know when you may need it. She also warned to bring comfortable shoes since you will be walking most places.
Some of the highlights of the trip included the following places:
-Victoria and Albert Museum
-the Globe theatre
-the Leprechaun Museum in Dublin, Ireland
-the Imperial War Museum
-the West End theatre tour
-the Tower of London
While in London, the study abroad students got to see a variety of plays and shows such as Wicked, We Will Rock You, Henry VIII, the Tempest, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Chicago, Avenue Q, and more.
When asked what students would like to see done differently next year, many agreed they would have liked to stay in London and Ireland longer.
“It’d be nice to have a longer time in Ireland to really be able to get out and see stuff without having to worry about catching the flight on time,” said Davis referring to the students’ mad-dash through the airport to try to catch their flight after being held up through airport security over the security worker’s suspicion of the group’s umbrellas.
“I’d like to stay in London a few more days because there is so much that we did not get to do,” Kelly added.
May suggested that it would be nice to have made use of the kitchen more or had a meal plan of some sort to keep the cost of food down, but added “We were just so busy.”
“I would like to stay in a place that had free internet in the building,” LeBlanc commented.
“It would help if we had access to wireless internet in the dorms,” Baptiste agreed, “It would cut down on the time it takes to post stories for class so we can have more free time and let us communicate back home more. My parents gave me grief about that.”
But even with the communication difficulties, all the students raved about the great time they had on the trip and many said they would love to go again next year.