Annual Fund Study Abroad travel bursaries: expanding horizons

Annual Fund-supported exchange bursaries have enabled undergraduate students to study abroad during their degree.

LSE has exchange schemes with Sciences Po, a leading social science university in France; the University of California, Berkeley; and the University of Melbourne, offering students the chance to gain experience that helps them develop into engaged global citizens.

Bursaries provided by the Annual Fund open up access to join the scheme, with 22 students benefiting in 2016/17, and a further 17 set to study abroad this academic year. Students typically take part in the scheme after completing two years in London, returning to LSE for their final year of study.

Fiona Conlan, Acting Head of Academic Partnerships, said: “We believe that a year abroad exchange enhances students’ LSE experiences by instilling increased confidence, and providing a different academic perspective and better understanding of another culture. In short, it makes students more productive and engaged citizens at home and abroad.”

Andrea

Andrea Sze (BSc Anthropology 2018) – University of Melbourne

 “What makes social anthropology different to other disciplines is conducting research based ethnography, in which you are thrown out there into your field and expected to figure it out for yourself. Melbourne shaped my experience, enabling me to see and understand the way in which anthropology affects the lives of Australians through the relationship between aboriginal communities and the national government.

Through ‘Aboriginalities’, a foundation subject offered by the incredible Australian Indigenous Studies department at the University of Melbourne, I learnt all about the origins of Melbourne as a settler culture, which saw colonisers declare that the ground was ‘terra nullius’ – belonging to no one and with no inhabitants who had cultivated any kind of civilisation. This had a devastating effect on Melbourne in its establishment as a modern cosmopolitan society, and heavily impacted interactions between aboriginal and settler communities. 

I’m now very excited to begin my third year, having had this experience in which I was able to do so much for myself, rather than having it spoon fed to me. In all honesty I was feeling defeated and burnt out at the end of second year, but now I feel reinvigorated with a renewed focus for my final year – one of my biggest interests is in the cross-cultural identities of Asian diaspora, and I discovered that Australia, with its large Asian Australian population, is something of a hotpot for that.

This experience taught me to embrace new opportunities, no matter how big or small, and not to get wound up by little details along the way. The Annual Fund bursary helped enormously in this regard – we would have struggled hugely to meet substantial accommodation and travel costs without it.

When weighing up whether to take this opportunity, the only thing on the side of ‘no’ was the money issue, so it’s fair to say that without the generosity of Annual Fund donors I may well have missed out on a life-changing experience. Once I had that financial bedrock, I had no reason not to go and I was able to afford to concentrate fully on the various other practical challenges of my trip – getting around day to day, applying for bank accounts – while the psychological and moral boost provided by this gift motivated me to really immerse myself  academically.”

Michael

Michael Broad (BSc Social Policy 2018) – University of California, Berkeley

“It has always been dream of mine to live in America and this experience did not disappoint. Living in another country challenges you in a ways that you might not normally experience back at home. For example,  I was able to volunteer in an elementary school teaching English in a very poor district. It was eye opening to get an understanding of what poverty looks like in the US. But I was also able to enjoy some much more traditional American things – such as having a Thanksgiving dinner with an American family, and taking a road trip across the country. 

Academically I was able to expand my subject breadth through programmes that aren’t available at LSE, such as LGBT studies, a specialism of Berkeley. I also developed a much greater understanding of poverty and inequality in other countries. The American system enables you to choose a wide variety of subjects – you’re not tied down to any one – and I think that really expanded my mind. I was also enamoured with the extremely vibrant environment of the Berkeley campus, a very special place as the centre of the Free Speech Movement in the 1960s.

The impact on me academically and personally has been huge. It has sparked my interest in the topic of rebuilding nations after civil war, which I have now decided will be a focus for my dissertation. I also think it will make me a better LSE student – at Berkeley you are continually assessed throughout the year, which I think made me more focused and on top of my work. But outside of my studies I’ve opened myself up to so many more possibilities – I immediately began applying for other internship programmes abroad, and spent two months in India after the exchange, so I have become much more adventurous. And while living abroad is an incredible experience, it does also make you appreciate what you have back at home, and I have a renewed appreciation for LSE’s unique amazing environment.

I’m the first generation of my working class family to attend university and it would have been impossible for me to even think about applying for this programme without the prospect of the Annual Fund’s support, with the cost of living in California even higher than London. Thank you to all Annual Fund donors – you enabled me to achieve my dreams of living in America. As someone who has benefited so greatly, I think in the future it is incumbent on me to support others in a similar way.” 

 

NiaNia Clark (BSc International Relations 2018) - Sciences Po

“I wanted to do this not just because Sciences Po is a very prestigious university that enabled me to expand my academic profile, but also because it gave me the opportunity to experience a different culture, learn a new language, and be inside another institution. The amazing location of my campus in Menton on the Riviera meant I could in theory visit three countries in one day, such was its proximity to Monaco and the Italian border.

This campus specialises in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean studies, providing me with the opportunity to develop my understanding of the history of the Middle East and international law. It was valuable to get my head around the French learning system, while I also had the chance to develop my French and to learn Arabic, something that isn’t available as part of my LSE programme. I appreciated some of the differences when contrasted with LSE, such as the fact that my campus was so small – a lecture may only have 17 people, meaning that everyone is able to interact with one another. Furthermore, with it being such a specialised campus, everybody there was fully focused and interested in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions.

Getting a job in a very small town on the Riviera outside of the peak tourist season would have been difficult, and so the Annual Fund bursary relieved me of so much pressure, enabling me to take all the practical measures around accommodation. As both an LSE student and someone who has worked on the Annual Fund calling programme, I’ve seen the benefits of donors’ generosity first hand, whether through enabling students from less privileged backgrounds to attend the School or supporting student life on campus – all students are touched by it, whether they are aware of it or not. A £5 a month direct debit may not seem all that noticeable on a month by month basis, but after 30 years of giving that will have a huge effect.

My Sciences Po experience has opened so many doors for me going forward. For example afterwards I continued developing my Arabic through spending a summer in Cairo, an opportunity that never would have presented itself otherwise. Meanwhile it has had a big impact academically – I’m now set to write my dissertation on Turkish foreign policy having been inspired by a one week intensive course I did at Sciences Po’s winter school; and I will be able draw upon the many insights of my professors there. I’m also much clearer about areas I wish to specialise in at a master’s level. This year I feel everything is coming together and I am more prepared than ever before.”