From abroad: What’s cooking in London

Queen Victoria statue facing away from Buckingham Palace. [Photo by Adesewa Egunsola’16]

Queen Victoria statue facing away from Buckingham Palace. [Photo by Adesewa Egunsola’16]

By Adesewa Egunsola

I was the person who once burnt an egg while trying to boil it. I wasn’t completely clear on how long you were supposed to keep it on the stove and ended up boiling it for close to 30 minutes—most recipes recommend a third of that. At Lafayette, I’ve had the luxury of avoiding such catastrophes, because the college gives students the ability to enroll in a meal plan for all four years. Unfortunately or, as it turns out, fortunately, my study abroad program in London doesn’t offer any meal programs.

I’m completely in charge of what I eat. Pride won’t let me cop out by eating out for every meal or making frozen dinners. So I’ve had to force myself to begin cooking. Thankfully, I haven’t burnt down the kitchen or caused any fires yet. Nor have I given myself food poisoning, at least to my knowledge. But I have learnt the importance of spices and that sometimes it’s possible for food to taste as bad as it looks.

I always thought being in college was one of the final levels of becoming a fully independent adult until I came to London. It’s been seven weeks since I’ve started my program and already I’ve achieved a personal growth, that for me, I could have only obtained from traveling abroad.

The kitchen and the classroom are the same in this regard. Another glaring difference between studying abroad, especially in London is the structure of the course. While professors are far from holding our hands at Lafayette, they still provide a significant amount of guidance. They often give multiple tests, papers, and assignments so that both the student and the professor have a way of gaging how well the class is learning the material and to make sure students don’t fall too far behind.

That’s just not the case here; you have to learn mostly independently, so whether you learn or not is up to you. In one of my classes I was given suggested readings and the only things I was being graded on were one paper and the final exam. There was no homework, test, or quizzes to help me understand how well I had soaked up the material. I believe this is the case, because here students are less concerned than American students with what the actual grade is. A “C” is a good grade here, and “A’s” are practically unheard of. I feel as though I need to be proactive with my learning, but I don’t feel the need to be as competitive.

Overall, being abroad has caused me to be reflective about everything happening in my life. I appreciate everything my experiences have taught me so far, but I also appreciate so much more now all the little things I took for granted at Lafayette. I’m excited to continue on my journey, no matter what obstacles might be waiting for me ahead.