Life on the General Course: a student view

Katherine Wzorek, George Washington University, D.C.

I can still remember getting off the plane at Heathrow Airport in late September. I was definitely a bit jet-lagged and nervous because I had no idea what to expect. I had never been so far away from home for so long. Even further, London was so different – so big, confusing, and overwhelming. I have grown up in Philadelphia and I go to school in DC, but London was in no way comparable to the “grid-system cities” I was used to in the US. Throughout the first weeks, I found myself constantly getting lost, Google mapping every location I needed to go, constantly searching the tube map for the correct stop, and feeling incompetent when unassuming tourists asked me for directions.

But this initial shock of London eventually wore off. After these past six months, London does not seem so scary anymore. By no means am I suggesting that I have conquered London, but the city has become comfortable. I have embraced London in all its crowded, chaotic glory – I no longer feel like a foreigner in London; instead, I feel at home. Moreover, LSE has become a home away from home as well. The classes I have taken have been intellectually stimulating and have challenged my previous ideas and conceptions. LSE is an intellectually curious place, where students are encouraged to think for themselves, to critique previous thoughts, and to be innovative. My classmates and co-workers’ ability and passion to discuss various issues constantly amazes me – I have no doubt many people in my classes will go on to change the world.

Besides just learning in the classroom, I have also had the opportunity to travel to various places throughout Europe. I have seen the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Gamla Stan in Stockholm, and during the break, the headquarters of the ICC in the Hague, and the glaciers of Iceland. I am so appreciative of having the opportunity to go to these fascinating and incredibly different places with great friends.

While the travelling part has been amazing, I think the greatest part of my time abroad has been the amazing people that I have met, both General Course students and LSE students alike. I have gotten the chance to meet people around the world, hear their perspectives and opinions, and thus understand the world just a little bit better. The people at LSE are so open and willing to listen, eager to hear my stories and happy to share their own. Everyone at LSE is so driven to succeed, to be the best that they can be, and create change in the world.

In sum, this year has been eye opening and humbling. If I had to summarize my entire year studying at LSE in the General Course, I would have to use the word incredible. This year has allowed me the opportunity to meet people from around the world, to travel and, of course, to study exciting and interesting subjects. This year has really shaped me and challenged me, both in and out of the classroom. LSE is a place where you can dive right in, even if you are just studying abroad here for the year. I do not feel like I am an outsider; instead, I really feel that LSE, and London, has become a place in which I can always return.

General Course Class of 2012

Article appeared in 'The Beaver' newspaper on 13 March 2012 

Katherine Wzorek