Kelley Gardner's England Experience

Kelley Gardner's England Experience

By Kelley Gardner ' 19

Junior Kelley Gardner of the women's rowing team spent her fall semester in England.  Here is her experience from her time across the pond.

This past semester I studied abroad in London, England with the Hansard Society Scholars Program. I always knew I wanted to study abroad and being a Political Science major, many professors in the department recommend Hansard because of the unique experience it offers for their students. Instead of choosing your own classes like most universities do for study abroad, the Hansard Program curriculum consists of two specific classes at the London School of Economics and Political Science, an independent research project and an internship placement.

Our internship placements didn't start until the first week of October, so the first few weeks our program schedule consisted of guest lectures by politicians and experts in the field, and classes in public policy and politics every Thursday. There were also trips that the Hansard Program arranged for us to Wales and Scotland in the first month, where we toured the Wales General Assembly and the Scottish Parliament, met with politicians and lecturers, toured the cities and visited the Cardiff Castle and Edinburgh Castle. 

Coming from WAC, the British education system took some getting used to. We only had two classes for two hours each on Thursdays and only 2-3 assignments made up our final grades. Because of this, we spent a lot of time outside of the classroom and working every week as interns around London. My favorite part of the Hansard curriculum was my internship placement, where we worked Mondays to Wednesdays in Westminster. It was kind of difficult balancing work, classes, traveling and exploring London, but I definitely always had something to do!

Besides the internship, I choose the Hansard Program primarily because of its location in central London. Hansard students live in Notre Dame student housing right by Waterloo station - within walking distance of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye, and only few steps away from the Underground. The dorms were right near the South Bank of London, which is along the Thames River and has theaters, restaurants, shops, and starting in November, a great Christmas market.

There was always a ton of stuff to do around London in our free time. We spent a lot of time going to different neighborhoods, walking around street markets and visiting tourist spots like Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge and Westminster Abbey. Most museums are free or reduced for students, so we kept ourselves busy when we weren't in class or at work. Also, as it got closer to the Holidays, there were Christmas markets, Christmas lights and ice skating everywhere - it was a great time to be in London!

Living in a big metropolitan city also made it very easy to travel on weekends, which was one of my favorite things about studying abroad. My friends from the program and I traveled a good amount around the UK (United Kingdom) and Europe, and I was able to visit friends from WAC who were studying abroad nearby as well. For traveling outside of the UK, there are a ton of train stations in London and four international airports nearby that were easily accessible. While we had no academic breaks in our schedule allowing time for travel, we had every Friday off from class and work, so I was able to fit in a good amount of weekend trips. Throughout the semester I traveled to the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, Germany, Austria and France, as well as some day trips from London to Stonehenge, Windsor, Bath and Oxford.

I had a great time traveling, living and working in London for study abroad. I met great new friends and learned so much, but I'm so excited to be back in the US and get back to WAC next semester!