My Chevening month: October in London

08 Nov 2017
Melissa Guadalupe Social Media Ambassador

The first full month of #MyCheveningJourney in London was one for the books!

It’s been such a pleasure to start classes surrounded by the beautiful autumn colors and seasonal events in this vibrant city. Thanks to my Chevening Scholarship, I’m studying the MA Education, Gender and International Development at UCL’s Institute of Education, which has been ranked number one in the world for education for the past four years in a row, a true honour!

For those of us studying at the IOE this is clearly reflected by the quality of the professors (leading the research in their field), the relevance of the modules’ contents (connecting theories with current world issues), and the emphasis on students’ independent research.

One of my favorite parts of the academic week is meeting with my reading group before class to discuss the texts assigned by our professors; this gives us a chance to compare our perspectives, analyse research methodologies, and connect the lessons to our own countries’ realities. The latter makes for particularly rich discussions given that UCL hosts an incredible amount of international students from all parts of the world – just in my reading group there are students from the UK, Macedonia, Turkey, and Korea.

It is also this close contact with other cultures from all over the world which is one of the reasons why I love my Chevening community. It is so amazingly diverse! On October 21 the 1,700 Chevening Scholars were welcomed in London and enjoyed an exciting day learning more about upcoming opportunities and events in the UK, connecting through field-specific networking sessions, and getting inspired by speeches from Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick and Joanna Roper.

Being a Chevening Scholar means that you’re supported by a network of brilliant professionals from every corner of the world experiencing the same excitement, challenges, opportunities, and motivations as you. It means taking a break from an intense week of studying by getting together for a picnic in a beautiful park.

It means meeting up at a pub and giving each other encouraging words after a particularly challenging lecture. It means sharing tips and tricks on how to stretch our pounds in London. It means discovering together a never-heard-of-before café full of old neon signs in the north side of London. I can honestly say that my life here in London is made 1,000 times more beautiful through sharing it with my fellow Cheveners around the city.

Speaking of London, there isn’t a single accurate word to describe it so I’ll try with a few: dynamic, astounding, diverse, unpredictable, memorable, and enormous!

There’s something new to discover every single day in this city. You can walk around a neighbourhood you’re already familiar with but then maybe take a different turn and bam! You find a hidden passage that leads you to a quaint and colorful spot called Neal’s Yard.

Or you can head out to Carnaby Street for the third time in the month and discover that it’s been completely transformed to suit the Halloween festivities! While it is true that London is an expensive city, it is also true that there are always fun events and things you can do for free.

One of them – and also a must when you find yourself in London – is going to a free comedy show on Friday at The Bill Murray pub in Angel. You get to enjoy the work of quality stand-up comedians for zero pounds. But of course I have to confess that my top three ‘I-Love-London’ reasons will always come down to live music, free entry to museums, and Harry Potter!

If this first month in London is a reflection of my year ahead then I’m in for a magnificent ride.