By FEDERICA BRIZZI
From the very early stages of our academic career, we, John Cabot University students, are encouraged to live the fullest international experience that our institution offers. One of the most popular ways to do so is by spending a semester abroad. This year, I decided to live my international experience at King’s College London in July.
Faced with the need to attend a summer session, I resolved six months earlier to combine my duty with pleasure and embark on an adventure abroad. Needless to say, my choice was to go straight to my favourite place on earth and have a taste of the academic excellence of London. Thrilled by the prospect of my summer adventure, I departed for my little trip with the best intentions, determined to embrace everything that the experience had to offer.
London is such an amazing place to live. There is always something new going on and a million ways to keep up with the latest events happening in the city. TimeOut magazine, for instance, is a perfect example. Aesthetically speaking, the charm of the city resides in its perfect balance between history and modernity, between urban and green spaces. So you could, in one day, walk from the splendour of St. Paul’s Cathedral, to the cutting-edge modern sophistication of the Shard, or, from the densely populated neighbourhood of Notting Hill to the colourful quietness of the gardens at Holland Park.
London is moreover a place where culture can be freely witnessed both as a spectator of an ancient past and as a spectator of an ongoing process. The majority of London’s museums are free, meaning you could very easily spend an entire week staring at a Renoir in the National Gallery without having your wallet suffering the consequences (on this matter, let me advise you to visit the Wallace Collection as well, an unsung hidden gem I have just discovered this summer north of Oxford Street).
Or, you can look out for exhibitions by upcoming artists or concerts by emerging bands, which are happening pretty much in every corner of the city.
Studying at King’s College was also an immense pleasure. From the history of the institution, with its prominent alumni such as John Keats, Virginia Woolf and Peter Higgs, to the beauty of its historical buildings such as the Strand Campus or the Maughan Library, the university offers an incredibly stimulating environment to work in.
The break from John Cabot wasn’t particularly abrupt, as King’s College also offers a vast multi-cultural environment and strong academics, and had more to do with the bigger dimensions of everything, rather than an adaptation to new ways of living the university experience.
In the end, I am proud to say that I did live up to my initial intentions to take full advantage of my summer adventure. I never spent a day locked inside my apartment. I did everything my intensive academic schedule required me to do. I savoured and cherished every new notion I learned. I never denied a smile to anyone. I took full advantage of everything the city had to offer. I embraced and admired the local culture.
But most importantly, something of that culture has stayed with me, not to mention the wonderful, lifelong, friendships that have equally enriched me as a person.
Words are a poor way to describe the wealth that such experiences can bring to our lives, as many of my fellow JCU students coming from abroad will surely know all too well. You just need to follow one simple rule: be open to the new and the other.