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    My CEMS Exchange in London

    I’ve always wanted to experience living in a truly vibrant global city. The home of Big Ben, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, fish and chips, the red double-decker buses and black cabs, and of so many other world-famous iconic attractions, indeed has proved to be a good choice. There’s so much to see and to do, you simply will never ever get bored here!

    London with its long history and more than 8 million people is truly a multicultural city. It’s very busy and exciting, and it can seem that everyone’s always in a rush. But its different festivals, events, exhibitions, wonderful musicals and lively markets (Camden and Broadway markets being my favourites) can offer a real escape from the hard-working and many times stressful days.

    However, London has become much more to me besides its charming attractions. It’s the city where I’ve met and meet fantastic and inspiring people every day, where I’ve built new and close friendships, and last but not least this is the home of my exceptional and exciting host university, LSE.

    Block Seminar

    I arrived just a few days before the start of the compulsory CEMS Block Seminar, so I had not much time to rest, but I didn’t mind. The Block Seminar’s topic was ‘Gender and Diversity Management: Towards Inclusive Organisations’. We had a diverse agenda, giving us the opportunity to deepen our knowledge of this topic through lectures, company presentations, case study discussions and group work. During the week we worked in small teams on real gender and diversity business case projects assigned by the participating companies, including P&G, Arla, NHS and Shell. On the last day, we delivered our group presentations with our proposed strategies and solutions to the managers and academic members, getting highly positive feedback.

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    Final day of the Block Seminar

    The Block Seminar was not just about studying and working though. LSE organized different social activities for us every day, which provided us perfect opportunities to get to know each other, have some fun, and experience this colourful city. We had a cooking class together, a fantastic view from the Shard (which is by the way Western’s Europe tallest building!), social drinks with MiM students, informal networking drinks with P&G representatives, bowling and karaoke party.

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    The view from the Shard

    Academic life

    Why did I choose LSE in the first place? Well, it has an outstanding reputation for academic excellence, ranked among the top universities in the world each year and not surprisingly attracts the best students from all around the world. What could have been more motivating and inspiring than studying in this kind of environment? And it really turned out to be a great decision. One of the things that I truly love here is its diverse and international environment, and all the fantastic people that you can meet.

    As LSE’s motto Rerum cognoscere causas – ‘to know the causes of things’ - also indicates, we learn many-many theories. Generally, the courses are highly theoretical, but in reality this is actually much more exciting and interesting than how it sounds. The professors are well-prepared, enthusiastic, and make the classes thought-provoking. Also, most courses are more likely to be based on individual performance, and there are only a few of them where you have to do group projects.

    One LSE course is worth 7.5 credits, so we have to take four courses in total. One of them has to be the CEMS Compulsory Global Business Principles, and you can have three electives: I chose International Marketing: A Strategic Approach, Organisational Behaviour and Gender and Media Representation. Doing four courses “only” could seem easy compared to the Hungarian practice, but the workload is quite challenging here. Hundreds of pages of readings are required for each class, for each week, so you’ll definitely not be bored ;).

    A fantastic opportunity at LSE is that you can attend the public events and lectures, which offer the chance to hear from some of the most influential and famous academics and public figures. This semester, for example, included lectures so far from Emmanuel Macron (French Minister for the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs), Angelino Alfano (Italy’s Interior Minister), Robert Shiller (Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale, 2013 Nobel Prize winner), Margot Wallström (Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden), or Nicholas Stern (author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change).

    Joining to student societies is also a great way to get more out of your time at LSE. It has more than 200(!) societies, for all the imaginable areas, topics, or countries, such as Consulting, Accounting, Business and Finance Group, Baking, Chocolate, Music, Cider Appreciation, Animal Rights, different national societies (there’s a Hungarian one as well), Trading, Investment, just to name a few. I am currently a member of the Advertising, Marketing & PR Society and the Fashion Society. Being part of these are a fun way to meet new people, who share the same interest with you and acquire further knowledge in your chosen field.

    Another thing which is great of being an LSE student is that you can have access to all the services offered by the LSE’s Career Centre, including plenty of career fairs, company presentations, workshops, skill seminars, one-to-one practice interviews, CV feedback appointments and career discussions.

    Everyday life

    Life in London is expensive and it is important to be aware of the costs involved if you choose this city for your exchange term. The highest share is made up by accommodation (∼200-300 GBP/week), but transportation is costly too. As soon as you arrive, apply for a Student Oyster Card for public transport in order to receive a 30% discount on Travelcard and Bus Pass season tickets.

    LSE is located in the city centre (Zone 1), so it can be easily reached by tube or buses. There are a lot of restaurants, pubs, and cafés nearby, not to mention Covent Garden, which is one of my favourite places. That is a charming area in the heart of London, only 10 minutes walking from the university.

    LSE is not able to offer rooms at its residences to exchange students. Therefore, you have to arrange your accommodation by yourself. First, I wanted to rent a room in an apartment, but it proved almost impossible to find anything for this short period of time. The competition for reasonably priced apartments is very high, especially in September, and landlords usually prefer at least a half-year or rather a one-year long contract. I moved in to a student accommodation in the end, which is pricey but it’s not far from the uni and it’s pretty good. I have a private room with a small kitchen and bathroom, so I have my own privacy. But at the same time, I can still hang out with some other CEMSies, who also live here.

    Social activities

    All the CEMSies from the LSE are on their exchange term abroad during this term, so our CEMS class is composed just by exchange students from universities all around the world. It also means that the social activities are mainly organized by us, but the Graduate Management Society also takes charge of several fun nights, such as providing free drinks to CEMS and MiM students during the so called “MiM Mixers” social drinks, running every fortnight at the LSE Three Tuns Bar. I think one of the best and memorable nights was the ‘Mystery Dinner’, when we met up at different places to cook some amazing meals and have some drinks together, which was followed by dancing in a nearby pub in Shoreditch.

    Travelling

    While London offers a lot of fun, it’s also worth to do some trips outside of the city as well, as there are so many beautiful towns and cities in just one or two hours distance by train, such as Portsmouth, Oxford, Cambridge, Windsor, Canterbury, Brighton, or Stratford-upon-Avon. Scotland, though a little bit further away, can be an attractive destination too, which is especially charming in autumn with its picturesque landscapes.

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    On the way to Hogwarts :)

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    Glasgow

    As a final comment, I can only highly recommend choosing the LSE, it is an outstanding university with inspiring, internationally-minded people, where you can truly learn a lot. Its public lectures, academic and career support services, and student societies provide you the opportunity to make the most of your studies and offer a colourful, exciting exchange term. Not to mention, that it’s in the heart of a truly vibrant capital city!

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    Christmas lights in Oxford Street

    Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

    Contact the author Martyin Eszter at martyineszter@gmail.com