Studying Across the Pond and Amid the City

January 20 2017
Category: Academics

In this week’s #SoaringToSuccess we travel across the pond with alumni, Liam Burtt ’16. Liam is now a graduate student studying intelligence and information security at King’s College in London. While his time at Elmira prepared him for graduate school, Liam’s experiences in this international city are like none other.

London Liam Burtt Library 

Let’s learn more from Liam… 

I loved my time at Elmira College. It was tight knit community that fostered academic excellence and nurtured personal development. Whether it was in the classroom or at the rink, I was always provided with every opportunity and resource needed to flourish. There is no doubt in my mind that I owe many of my successes to the several professors and coaches that helped me develop my potential while there. However, realizing that life after hockey and EC was inevitable, I set out at the end of my senior year in search of something completely different.

This is one of the primary reasons why I chose to pursue a Master of Arts in intelligence and international security at King’s College London (KCL), England. In addition to studying at one of the top universities in the world, being able to live in one of the largest cities in Europe has provided me with a unique opportunity. Combined with its architectural beauty and rich history, London is an awe-inspiring backdrop. When walking down the cobble stoned streets of central London or through one of the city’s bustling markets, a rich variety of cultures, languages, and religions are always on vibrant display. It’s difficult to find a North American city to compare it to.

This type of multiculturalism is also reflected in KCL’s student body, especially within the war studies department. I’ve had the opportunity to engage in debates and exchange ideas with people from all over the world - each of whom have their own unique interpretation of international events. In the process, I have developed a far better understanding of why different states and/or cultures act in the ways they do. For me, these aspects have made my time here invaluable.

Furthermore, from a more professional standpoint, the city of London also grants you access to an abundance of opportunities. Despite Brexit, London is still the financial capital of the European Union and thus attracts the biggest commercial and non-commercial organizations in the world. A number of these organizations actively recruit graduate students for both internship and full-time positions.

This is not to say I haven’t had to make adjustments. The UK graduate-education system is somewhat more ‘self-directed’ than in the U.S. or Canada, meaning you have far less contact hours with professors. In other words, where you may have fifteen to twenty hours of class or seminars at Elmira College, in the UK you will likely only have half that amount (this is all dependent on what you are studying). What this simply amounts to is this - you have to take complete ownership of your degree. The professors are there to teach not babysit, so its entirely up to you to meet a significantly higher set of expectations. There is no such thing as an extended deadline or late submission at the graduate level.

Thankfully I, like most EC students, benefited from similar expectations while studying at Elmira. In particular, my time spent with Dr. Imai and Dr. Twombly in the political science department has tremendously aided me in my transition to KCL. Under their critical yet constructive watch, I was able to elevate my quality of writing, thought process, and time management skills significantly. Had it not been for their guidance, especially when writing my senior seminar paper, my leap to the graduate level would have been far more difficult. For that matter, I may not have even made it into the program.

In the end, I strongly recommend anyone thinking about graduate school to seriously consider doing so abroad. Not only will you receive an outstanding education, but will also gain an incredible life experience

Interested in studying abroad in London? Click here to learn more about a new partnership between Elmira College and Regent’s University London.