My Summer Abroad at King’s College London – Kavya Shrikanth
A third-year undergraduate student at Ashoka University shares her summer abroad experience at King’s College London.
Studying abroad is an opportunity to see and understand the world and the vast diversity at King’s College, London provided not only a new perspective but new visions that coloured the world. The journey I envisioned for myself at King’s College was one of academic and intellectual growth but as my stay in London progressed, I found a nuanced layer of personal growth that stood as strong as my learning in the classroom.
The prospect of spending a semester abroad certainly stirs an excitement at the anticipation of adventures to come. However, once I found myself alone at my new destination, this excitement melted into feelings of dread and alarm for having embarked on a seemingly daunting venture of navigating through a new education system in a foreign country. Taking the wrong bus to class on the first day of orientation did little to soothe my nerves but the event soon became a comic starter to conversations with strangers who seemed to have stumbled into this new world along with me. Grasping an understanding of the ebb and flow of the city soon became a simple task as using London’s well-connected public transport system and visiting the local markets became part of my daily routine. One of the courses I attended at King’s College was a study of museums, which required that I visit and explore a different museum each week and thereby, was presented the opportunity to engage with these structures as both, an academic and a tourist.
Carrying forth my pursuit of a history degree I chose to study four modules spread across the departments of history and the classics. These modules not only corresponded with my current programme of study at Ashoka University but also expanded the scope of my education as I gained the opportunity to explore areas of temporal and spatial landscapes in history, such as the age of the Vikings that are not taught at my home university. Even topics I was previously familiar with, such as the History of Atlantic Slavery, took me by surprise as the blend of students and professors from different backgrounds presented a platform to engage with these historic narratives through the subtleties of each perspective. The Department of Classics that focused on Greek and Roman histories was another interesting field to explore, as the city of London stands as a physical reminder of the effects of neoclassicism and allowed for what was learnt in the classroom to flow beyond the walls and occupy the streets. Some professors held their classes outside campus in venues such as museums and galleries! Such modules extend the intellectual milieu into the city itself and thereby functioned within an environment that is in sync with the real world.
As Study Abroad plunges students into a new environment, it provides an excellent opportunity to for them to travel and explore. While I explored multiple cities, towns and castles across the UK, it was the countryside that constantly drew me out. Many weekends turned to adventures such as walking a 12 km trail from Wimbledon to Richmond, hiking through waterfalls in the Lake District and trekking the magical White Cliffs of Dover that extend across the southern coast of England. Each little trip made me more independent in managing different aspects of my life and inspired me to navigate and enjoy my semester abroad.