Looking Back

Well, it’s the night of August 13,2011, and I’m sitting in Heathrow airport wondering where all of that time went.  It feels like just yesterday that I had landed on the tarmac at this same airport, eagerly anticipating the events that would unfold over the next two months.  I can truly and sincerely say that London did not disappoint.  As many of you read in my first post, I spent a few of my first days here, travelling Paris.  The buildings, the architecture, the history, and the shear majesty of being in Paris was amazing.  London was no different. In fact…London may have even TOPPED Paris.  Between my first few days in Europe, and the first few days once classes started, I had many an opportunity to travel the wonders of the London area. 

The first stop on this epic journey was…perhaps head-scratchingly for some, Southall.  Many of you have probably never heard of this small West London suburb.  To understand why I went to Southall, it is first important to know a little bit about myself.  Well really…just the fact that I’m an Indian American.  As many (probably all) people around me will tell you, I’m very proud of my heritage and culture, and embrace the fact that I live in the best of both worlds – by being an American, and also being able to attach myself to the rich history and culture of India.  Southall is known as Little India.  It is the largest concentration of emigrants form the Indian subcontinent, in the world.  I travelled to Southall, to be able to witness this subculture with my own eyes..and EXPERIENCE it! That’s what studying abroad is all about! It’s important to experience EVERYTHING around you.  It was truly awe-inspiring.  To walk into a place, really a town, within London, England, and completely feel like I stepped foot back into India was an entirely different experience.  It’s something that I, as an Indian American from little old Louisville, KY, doesn’t usually witness.  That was certainly not the LAST time I visited Southall during my two months in London..far from it in fact.  In fact, I was even able to go there for a Punjabi music concert, meeting a couple of the biggest Indian music artists in the world.  To keep going with the Indian experiences, I even got to see the national cricket team play England’s national team, live at Lord’s Cricket stadium.  These were experiences that I never could have dreamed of back in The US – but a study abroad program made them reality for me.  I encourage all of you thinking about studying abroad, to not only experience the touristy stuff in your locations, but dig deeper for experiences off the beaten path, that wouldn’t normally jump out at another person.  Really tailor your experience to YOU.  Especially those of you who may be second or third generation Americans, only recently removed from your ethnic country, take advantage of the sub culture that may be right under your nose.  Experience your heritage from a whole different perspective. 

At the end of the day, there was still of course the plethora of things that I “had to do” while in London.  Windsor Palace was one of many castles that I toured during this trip; one can’t help but be overwhelmed by the history and grandeur of such a landmark.

At the end of the day, however, the main purpose of this trip was really to study and learn at such an institution as The London School of Economics.  Surrounding myself with such capable professors, TAs, and professors was an amazing experience.  While I gained a lot through classes, I can honestly say I gained just as much through the diversity of the people around me.  There were people from pretty much every nook and cranny of the world – including the staff and professors working at the university.  It truly was a gathering place for intellects from around the globe.  That, I came to realize, is what makes LSE such a great place to learn.  My professors were able to use examples from their home countries to better explain the concepts being taught in class. Out of my four “teachers,” I had a TA from New Zealand, a TA from Greece, a professor from Italy, and a professor from Germany.  In addition, in class, the level and depth of analysis that teachers delved into, was astonishing. 

At the end of the day, I would CERTAINLY recommend the LSE summer program for ANY student who is interested in a diverse, challenging, well-respected, and well-organized experience.  The only qualm that I have, is the price, which one must consider before travelling abroad in general.  London does tend to be an expensive city, but provides students with experiences that are well worth the cost. 

I Made It!

It’s finally here! The time I’ve been waiting for all semester, came just over a week ago, when I landed at London Heathrow airport, for an experience I hope to never forget.  For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Deep Aggarwal, and I’m a senior here at The University of Louisville.  This summer, I’m studying at The London School of Economics for six weeks, taking International Trade and Monetary Policy, and The Economics of European Integration.  Last week, I travelled through some of the sights in London, and took a little detour to Paris as well.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  It was an interesting experience, however, getting through Paris without knowing very much French.  Coincidentally, however, most of the street vendors, selling water bottles and trinkets happened to be Indian, so we found our way around by talking to them in Punjabi…the key to international travel is being resourceful. You have to take advantage of what you DO know, instead of harping on what you DON’T.  This week was my first week of classes, and it’s been great. While I’ve only had two days of class so far, I can tell already why LSE is so well respected.  My professors know what they’re talking about, and are able to explain complex material in an understandable fashion.  With class, however, means plenty of homework and studying..so I’ll be back on here to tell you more in the days to come!