Letters from London: Inside the classroom

Marcos Briggiler is a sophomore at the McKelvey School of Engineering studying abroad this summer as part of the Summer in London program offered through Washington University in St. Louis and CIEE. In this blog series, he'll share his experiences in and out of the classroom. Here, Briggiler discusses the academic benefits and challenges of the program.

A group of students pose for a photo before taking a day trip to Norway. Submitted photo

While in London, I'm taking "Differential Equations" and "The British Industrial Revolution" – two drastically different courses with drastically different experiences.

Diff eq has been going well so far. I really like our professor, a brilliant man who's young and is very understanding. There is no graded homework. Instead, the focus is on us to understand the material as best we can. Granted, the quizzes and exams count for a lot more than the ideal, but the lack of homework gives us much more time to study.

That said, this is not an easy course. I wouldn't want anyone to sign up for this thinking they'll be breezing through the material and going out every night. Each day of class is essentially the equivalent of a week's worth of WashU lectures. However, it's doable, and one has to be willing to stick through it and give it their best.

"The British Industrial Revolution" has been interesting to say the least. An author and politician, our professor is a living encyclopedia and he may be the biggest fanatic of history out there. I am quite the opposite and three hours a day of history has been difficult for me.

My saving grace has been the excursions. This is where being in London has been so important to this experience. This city is filled with historical sites and stories that very few other metropolitan areas can compete with. For our history class alone, we've gone to six different locations throughout London. It's been cool to be able to learn about things on-site and not just out of a dry textbook.

Additionally, London has enhanced our academic experience in an indirect way: It has helped us de-stress. We are in two three-hour lectures daily and that — added to studying — can be a lot. The ability to just go out and explore the city has been amazing and, in my opinion, beneficial to our studies.

I want to again emphasize that this has not been a walk in the park. It's not too bad, but it certainly is not easy. These are WashU courses and it requires us to be focused. This is a study-abroad program, not a vacation.

Overall, the small nature of our classes, combined with the hyper-focused lecture style have been really beneficial to my learning.

Be on the lookout Briggiler's next post, Letters from London: Exploring the city, and learn more about his adventures touring London. To learn more about the Summer in London study-abroad program, contact Melanie Osborn, senior assistant dean for Engineering Study Abroad, at osborn@wustl.edu.