Voices from Abroad
Studying Abroad at NYU London
Undergraduate students Rachel Levine-Ramirez, Jared Schulman and Luke Shearin blog about their experiences studying abroad at NYU London.
December 9, 2013: Rachel Levine-Ramirez
Every week seems to be busier and busier leading up to the end of this month. Brussels feels like a lifetime away, even though we only went last month. Our trip to Belgium seemed to be just the beginning of our wanderlust.
The end of October was football (ahem, soccer) season, and I went to go see Arsenal vs. Borussia Dortmund. It was a Champions League match, so the stakes were high. Arsenal ended up losing the game, but the energy of the crowd was fantastic. It was a great experience for my first football match.
The next week, my friends Sidney, Katherine, Alison and I departed on our very own Euro Trip. First stop: Paris!
After going to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, we ate lunch at a café and headed to the Eiffel Tower. Compared to New York City, Europe lacks tall buildings and structures, so seeing the Eiffel Tower rising high into the black night was a welcome reminder of the Concrete Jungle. Riding up to the very top in a rickety elevator was a bit unnerving, but our courage was rewarded with a beautiful view of the City of Lights.
It rained the next day, but that didn’t stop us from going to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Louvre. Ever since I saw the movie “The Da Vinci Code,” I’ve dreamed of going to visit the Louvre and to all the places Robert Langdon (aka Tom Hanks) goes to in the movie. Although we didn’t get to go inside this time, it’s definitely on my itinerary for the next trip to Paris (which I’m determined to make).
For our final day in Paris, we visited the Arc de Triomphe and walked down the Champs-Elysées. It was rather exhausting, but thankfully we were blessed with the most perfect, sunny day.
After walking around all day, we headed to the Gare de Lyon to catch a train to Zurich, where we spent the night. The next morning, we drove through the Alps and into Italy, with our final destination being Tuscany.
Spending the majority of our break in Tuscany meant we were disconnected from the outside world. No WiFi, no cell phone service, and no television. I spent a lot of time reading while enjoying the breathtaking view.
While we were in Italy, the girls and I took a day trip to Rome. The three hour car ride began very early in the morning, and the sun was shining in our faces the whole time. I loved the time we spent driving around because I got to experience all of Italy’s beauty firsthand.
We visited all the classic touristy spots in Rome, including the Coliseum and Piazza Navona (another location visited by Robert Langdon in “Angels and Demons,” the sequel to “The Da Vinci Code”). Again, the weather was perfect. There was not a cloud in the sky as we walked all throughout Rome.
Of course, our vacation couldn’t last forever. Before we knew it, we were back on a plane to London Heathrow. Having a stress-free Fall Break was much needed, and my first time traveling through Europe went off without a hitch.
November 20, 2013: Luke Shearin
It’s been quite a while since my last post, and thus, there is plenty to talk about. London has continued to meet and exceed my expectations. While I wish I could touch on each and every day, I’ll focus on a few of the highlights!
One of my favorite spots that I have visited so far is the British Museum of Natural History. Reminiscent of the one in New York, it comes complete with sections on archaeology, animals of all types and plenty of dinosaur fossils. It even has a rather interesting lobby greeter…
Through NYU, I was also able to attend a number of cultural events. First up was a World Cup qualifying match between England and Montenegro. The atmosphere was amazing, especially considering the fact that England won. Had the end result been different, I have a feeling the crowd would have acted a bit differently.
The same programming took me on a tour of Cambridge on an absolutely gorgeous day. I was blown away by the buildings and the fact that inside most of them were students, just like myself. It ended up being a really wonderful tour, and I definitely would like to go back for a longer visit if the opportunity presents itself.
We also recently had our fall break, which lasted for the entirety of the first week of November. For my break, I went with two friends (One of whom was Jared Schulman, another writer for the Stern study abroad blogs) and hiked Hadrian’s Wall, which runs the width of North England. In total, we walked 85 miles over the course of seven days, enduring hailstorms and muddy hills. On one morning, we woke up to a frost-covered ground and fog that kept us from seeing more than 100 feet in front of our faces.
Luckily for us, the weather on the most scenic days was amazing, and the views that we saw made all the sore legs and early morning starts worth it.
The day after we returned from our hike, I was off again, this time as a part of a program which NYU participates in called HOST UK. The program matches those who are interested with a family willing to host them for a weekend, and is supposed to allow students to experience British culture in a way that they might not be able to in other circumstances. I spent a wonderful weekend with a couple who lived in a village just outside of Basingstoke. We visited Blenheim Castle, birthplace of Winston Churchhill, which was even more grand and gorgeous than I could have expected, and I got to see some fireworks at a Guy Fawkes Day celebration. To top things off, they even had two alpacas, which was sort of the icing on the cake for an amazing weekend.
All in all, I’ve had a fantastic time. The programs offered by NYU definitely go a long way towards keeping one busy. I also was able to go to Brussels along with the rest of the BPE program as a part of a group trip to learn about the EU. Both Jared and Rachel were on that trip, so I figured I would allow them to speak about that a little bit, as I had so much else to discuss!
Hopefully this entry was informative – if it’s a matter of whether or not you would like to study abroad in London, I cannot recommend it enough. Never in my wildest dreams could I picture myself hiking across a country – and yet, that is just one of the many things that I did in just the past two months. It’s allowed me to take photos of palaces like the ones earlier, and then turn around and take a photo like this…just a casual cow companion.
October 23, 2013: Rachel Levine-Ramirez
It’s been a pretty busy month here in London, and, with Fall Break approaching, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to get any calmer. At least midterms are over!
A few weeks ago, NYU London took us on a trip to Stonehenge. I definitely hyped up the big rocks in my mind, so I was a bit underwhelmed when I actually saw them. It’s definitely an impressive formation, but it was fenced off so I couldn’t touch it or stand inside of it. A little disappointing, but I’m really glad I got to see it.
We also went to nearby Salisbury and saw the Cathedral where a copy of the Magna Carta is housed. Our tour guide told us that the cathedral was built in such a short amount of time (50 years!) which resulted in a consistent architecture style. The Gothic cathedral was beautiful inside and out, and the sun shining was a very nice touch.
The very next day, we took a trip to Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, the royal family was out (no run-ins with Prince Harry, maybe next time…), but we got to walk around and see all the state rooms. The ceilings probably impressed me the most; the intricate detailing of everything in the palace was breathtaking. I may or may not have started alternating between “God Save The Queen” and “Hail To The Chief” in my head.
Continuing along with the touristy themed month, NYU London also provided us with tickets to ride the London Eye. Seeing London during the day is great, but seeing London at night is spectacular. From the ground, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament seem massive, but seeing them from the London Eye definitely gives you a different perspective. It was a clear night, so we were lucky because we were able to see so far out.
With an impending International Economics midterm, I decided to take a study break at Her Majesty’s Theatre and see The Phantom of the Opera. NYU London provided us with (free!) tickets, and I couldn’t pass up the offer. I didn’t even know the plot line of Phantom, so it was really interesting seeing it for the first time in London. The enchanting music served as a good motivator for future studying, and I had Phantom songs going through my head the next morning while I spouted the theories of Ricardo and Krugman on my exam.
A week after Phantom and right before midterm season started to pick up again, my friends and I took of tour of the BBC House in London. I’m absolutely in love with anything that reminds me of the television show Newsroom, and the BBC definitely had elements of it. Walking around and overseeing the newsroom action made my heart flutter with desires of becoming a journalist at the BBC. However, when I walked outside and became drenched in rain, my desires were deterred.
The new BBC building is mostly all glass, which reminded me of Tisch Hall and made me miss it. Thankfully, a little piece of New York came to London when Dean Witt and Jessica Rosenzweig met us at St. Pancras International Station to chaperone our BPE trip to Brussels.
Our BPE trip to Brussels was unbelievably incredible. The weather was fantastic, and it was nice to get out of London for the weekend. We had a lecture at the European Commission, which is also almost entirely made out of glass. In the afternoon, we learned more about the EU at the European Parliament building.
After the talks, NYU Stern took us out to dinner at Belga Queen. After not eating real meals the whole weekend (too many French fries, chocolate, and waffles), the dinner was much needed. It was a nice reminder that even though we’re in London, Stern is still providing us with free food.
Now that midterms are over, the next few weeks are going to be relaxing, especially with Fall Break coming up. There’s still so much more for me to do in Europe, but I’m so glad I’ve been able to do so much here in so little time.
October 4, 2013: Luke ShearinAs of my writing this, I have only been in London for a few weeks, although it feels like much longer. Coming to a new country is a whirlwind of new experiences – adjusting to a new culture carries with it it’s own learning curve. Although I would love to be able to talk about every single one of those experiences, that would be impossible, and probably pretty boring to read. So instead, I will focus on a few major points.
An especially memorable moment for me came on my first weekend in London. I am staying in Byron Court, which is located very near to Coram’s Fields, a park specifically designed for children. It just so happened that, on the weekend we arrived, Coram’s Fields was hosting Pop Up Screens UK, a group that shows movies on inflatable movie screens in different parks. My suite and I decided that this was an opportunity we couldn’t miss, so we made the three-minute walk over to the park and enjoyed a wonderful night watching V For Vendetta under the stars.
Another high point for me was a visit I took to the White Cliffs of Dover with some other students in the BPE program. The trip started with a visit to Dover Castle, which was amazing in it’s own right. I’m a big Game of Thrones fan, and walking through the gates to see a high-stoned tower made me think of the show.
From the top of the castle we could see the surrounding countryside and down into the town itself.
The cliffs themselves, however, were the true highlight of the trip. It’s a landmark that completely lives up to its reputation. The cliffs themselves are gorgeous, and the view of the water is amazing as well.
All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend a day. There was a decent amount of walking to get to the castle, and then from the castle to the cliffs, but it wasn’t anything too difficult.
Daily life in London is also extremely different from that in the US. The lack of a dining hall means that cooking has become a much larger role in my life than ever before. It helps that my roommate, Jared Schulman, worked as a chef in high school and has plenty of experience. Needless to say, we end up eating pretty well, having dishes like the pulled pork carnitas that are pictured here.
I’ll end my first post with just some London trivia that I found particularly interesting. Obviously, in London they use pounds as currency, and getting used to the different coins took some time. However, I soon noticed something interesting. All of their coins and bills feature Queen Elizabeth II, which was strange to me as I was used to money featuring the faces of long deceased historical figures, not current leaders. After some research, I found that when a new ruler comes into power, they simple re-mint all the money with the image of the new monarch. So, if Prince Charles were to ascend to the throne, one would soon see his face on all of the coins and bills.
This first picture is of the “tail side” of the various coins. The top row shows 1p, 2p, 5p, and 10p. On the bottom row is 20p, 50p, 1 pound and 2 pounds.
This second picture shows the reverse side of those coins, each one displaying the Queen’s face. If you look closely, you can see that the design of the face on the 20p piece is a little different, a little younger looking. This is because, as she has been the Queen for such a long time, the coins have been re-minted several times with new face designs. That particular coin is a little older, so it is from an older batch.
Thank you for reading the first entry of my blog. I’m sure that next time I will have plenty more where all that came from!
September 26, 2013: Rachel Levine-Ramirez
My name is Rachel Levine-Ramirez and I’m a sophomore in NYU Stern’s Business and Political Economy program. One of the perks of being in BPE is that I get to spend my entire second year abroad in London. I’ve been here less than a month, but I’ve already done so much here in London.
Sometime last week, a fellow BPE-er and I went to check out Harrods, the mega-department store in London. It’s absolutely huge and luckily I snapped a great picture once we were outside. The sun made an appearance that day, and this is proof that it’s not always raining in London.
Last week, a group of us decided to get out of London and go see the famous White Cliffs of Dover. It was an incredible journey, minus the two and a half hour bus ride and the four-mile hike. However, it was all worth it once we got to the top.
Again, the sun made another quick appearance, even though it was overcast for most of the day. The rain held off the entire time we were hiking, which we were all very grateful for.
NYU does a great job of getting you to explore the city that you’re in. In New York, Stern has the Cohen Arts & Culture Experience (CACE), which gives away low-cost tickets to Broadway shows. Here in London, NYU London gives them away for free (if you’re quick to sign up for them). I signed up for tickets for Wicked, and last night I headed down to the Apollo Victoria Theatre to go see the musical.
The theatre was absolutely beautiful. I had never seen Wicked before, so I enjoyed every moment of the show. It was absolutely fantastic. I’m so glad that NYU London gave me the opportunity to see Wicked (for free!), and that Stern has given me the opportunity to see the world.
September 20, 2013: Jared Schulman
Welcome to London, England – home of the free, the proud, and the definitively British. If there’s one thing I’ve learned so far during my stay here across the pond, it’s that Americans and Brits are indeed two countries and cultures separated by a common language. If the reversed roadways and double-deckers don’t clue you into that quickly, you’re in desperate need of some heavy-duty culture shock.
Speaking of which, check out this amazing snapshot (which in hindsight I don’t think I was allowed to take) from the British Museum, which happens to be just around the corner from Byron Court, one of our beloved residence halls. This hallowed ground is home to treasures like the Rosetta Stone, the world’s first ever chess set (coined the Lewis Chessmen), and the Vindolanda Tablets, which are fabled to have contained the key to entry into the ancient Roman empire of Londinium (present day London).
“The Lewis Chessmen” – Grandfather set to one of the oldest games in history:
“The Rosetta Stone” - The key to modern language and communication; many scholars believe that the fragments of the Stone that were destroyed by years of war and raiding (obviously not pictured here) could hold yet more secrets to a language that we think we have mastered.
After leaving the museum that day we caught the Tube’s Piccadilly Line down to the Thames River for some obligatory shots of Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey, which happens to be the burial site of both Newton and Darwin, not to mention nearly every departed monarch to have ever graced the Throne.
Parliament and Big Ben with the iconic London Eye framed in center:
A beautiful shot of Westminster Abbey’s 940-year-old gothic face framed by sun-spackled 100-year-old oaks:
“Old Meets New”: A trailer for “Insidious 2” falls in sharp contrast with Parliament’s regal East Wing.
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and our day of adventures around London was called to a sudden halt as we raced back to campus for a 2:00 PM International Economics lecture. I must admit though, having class in NYU London’s academic center is a bit like travelling back in time to the 18th century, which makes learning there pretty amazing. Here’s why:
The white building in the center, 6 Bedford Square, is the heart of the academic center and stands alongside seven and eight (to the left and right). Each building is five stories and is equipped with countless Mac desktops, printers, cozy study spaces, and even a kitchen for days when you just don’t want to pop out to get lunch. Erected in 1751, this architectural beauty was originally constructed as the estate of the Right and “Honourable” Lord Eldon of Britain, who served as Lord Chancellor of Great Britain from 1801 to 1806….so yeah, this place is kind of ritzy.
Here’s what my view was like that day from a third story classroom. I’ll be honest though, having this view makes for quite a lovely distraction during lecture:
And a shot upstairs from the base of one of three of NYU London’s grand staircases:
And as if Bloomsbury (NYU London’s hip literary neighborhood) weren’t already hip enough, the people here also do this regularly:
For those of you who can’t tell, that’s a 50-foot inflatable movie screen in the middle of Coram’s Field Park in central Bloomsbury. On it you’ll see that the movie playing that night was “V for Vendetta,” which was originally a comic about a parallel timeline in which the Axis powers win World War II. The movie follows the masked man on the screen, “V,” through his plot to catalyze a democratic uprising in a very different London ruled by an iron-fisted autocrat. The mask that V wears is meant to resemble the face of Guy Fawkes, a rebel against the crown who on November 5, 1605, conspired to destroy Parliament. To this day, Brits celebrate the failed “Gunpowder Plot” each year on the fifth of November with fireworks, plenty of ale, and abundant merriment.
So that’s that – blog post one. I’ve been here almost a month already and I can’t imagine possibly fitting all of the fun and exciting adventures I’ve had into a couple of pictures and a few words. If you really want to experience this country, you’ll just have to get on a plane and come for yourself! Stay tuned for more!