I’ve always been trying to trust my gut feeling. London was calling me more than once in my life and combining it with media and music studies seemed to be the most obvious approach. Some hurdles had to be cleared. To organize it by myself, as a freemover, meant an additional hassle next to the normal work load at uni. And financially it wasn’t lucrative either, as I couldn’t find any foundation to pay for the high British student fees. But somehow it worked out and now you might wonder if the decision was worth it. Let’s find out.
Welcome to London
Today was the day of days. I’ve had a fight with my luggage in terms of trying to fit everything I needed in one big suitcase, for half a year abroad. The conclusion was to cut out lots of clothes to be able to take all my beloved video and audio gear with me. “You’ve got to set the right priorities”, my mother always told me. The flight wasn’t spectacular, and I soon arrived, who would have guessed, in a red bus at the desired destination. My student accommodation was organized by the university. When arriving I was a little bit shocked. Everything looked like on the pictures, but just a lot dirtier. My first task was to clean my room from top to bottom and to buy nice sheets. This feels a lot better. The flat consists of six rooms, a common kitchen, two toilets and two showers. Having no living room is quite unfamiliar to me. But soon I would come to appreciate the weekly cleaning of the common area in our flat.
The day before Uni
I’ve already spent one week in London, and I’m still overwhelmed by everything. I’ve found some friends to discover the city. It has more inhabitants than Switzerland and offers 1001 possibilities. Apart of organizational things, like finding our go-to-supermarket (M&S) and getting a UK number (giffgaff), we’ve been to parks, concerts, museums, restaurants, bars and clubs etc. I think even after two years you wouldn’t get bored here. Quite special was that the government declared our first day at Uni as a one-time national holiday, because the queen died and was buried on this exact day. It was interesting to see how it affected the local people. For some of them it seemed to be a huge loss.
The London Metropolitan University
I’m already one month in. The free sports offer is as huge as it is at the FH Graubünden. At Londonmet things are very well organized. They even have an app where you find everything from your timetables, emails, modules, information etc. The campus at Holloway Road offers a big canteen where you’ll get a proper lunch for a small budget. The “Department of Digital Media” lies also at this campus. I could choose from many different modules which was great. One of the main differences is that you only have four modules, but each of them more profound. There are also no block-weeks, so you’ll have the same module, week by week, for the whole teaching period. My lecturers are very competent, and the facilities include awesome tv and audio studios. You also don’t necessarily need to own a notebook because they provide well working MAC computers with all the programs installed.
Two months in
Time flies here in London. Money also. I have to say that living here is expensive if you have an active lifestyle. I’m starting to say no to events now. The pressure at uni has also raised a little bit. Every module includes two assessments and some of the first assessments are already in the past. Except of the noice of the city and the extremely crowded underground at peak times, there is nothing I could complain about. I often go to parks for a run. They are huge and really calm. The best thing about my time so far are definitely the people I met and the things I learned. There are people from all over the world basically. To be able to exchange with different people of the industry is always helpful for your own journey.
London was just great so far. It really offers a lot in terms of events and culture. I’d recommend a semester abroad to everyone who wants to dive more into his passions. I could choose what interests me the most, so I am willing to put in as much time and effort as I can, to the get the most out of it. And after two months I can already say, that for me personally, it was worth any money. To focus on less modules really helped me to reach a more profound knowledge in topics I’m highly interested in. Even though I still have some time left. If you already know in which direction you want to go, it’s perfect for you. This way you can dive deeper and finally be prepared better for your working future I believe. I really liked the big variety of topics, the FH Graubünden provides in the first year. It was great to find out which direction to go in. But now I hope that we get enough space to focus on our majors in the next semesters. In my opinion students who want to, should be able to specialize even more. Because getting really good at one thing, rather than knowing from everything a little, could bring you further, in this complex world. On the other hand, I see the point of having a broad spectrum of knowledge as well. This can be the right way for many students. It probably depends on the individual.
I’m also very happy that I took the student accommodation. I’m sure you would find cheaper flats but being in walking distance to the university is worth a lot in this city. There is also a lot more going on because you have the network of the many students living here.
Xavier Steffen is studying Multimedia Production at the University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons. He completed a semester abroad at London Metropolitan University in England.