When I chose to go abroad, I was told I couldn’t be an RA. Now, I wasn’t not disappointed that I wouldn’t be living among 18-year-olds, but as I live on-campus abroad, I find myself, once again, living among 18-year-olds.
The 23 Tufts students studying abroad at Queen Mary filed into Pooley House, living two to a flat. Our 4–6 flatmates are all first-year students, arriving at college bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and still “trying to find their limit.” But instead of dorm parties and nights out on Tisch Roof, they have a campus pub, Drapers, and access to London’s pub, club and bar scene. And as a 20-year-old who never purchased a fake, this is my first time with access to these things too.
As a member of the class of 2024, the class that began college with a virtual orientation, living through Queen Mary’s Welcome Week has served as some sort of catharsis. At the time, I thought Tufts’ virtual orientation was fine. The two weeks of isolation definitely took a toll on my mental health, but I was so grateful to be having a freshman year on campus. I honestly didn’t think of what I had missed out on, mostly because I didn’t know what I was missing.
My study abroad experience has given me a second orientation week, but it’s so much better. I don’t have the pressure of meeting my lifelong friends like first-years do. I have a built-in group of friends through the Tufts-in-London cohort (underclassmen don’t know the meaning of that word). I can go up to anyone with an American accent and start a conversation, and if it all goes wrong, I’m only here for three months before I return to Medford, Mass.
So my first week, and the subsequent syllabus week, we had opportunity after opportunity to explore the city and its nightlife: from meeting the cat at a cozy local pub to attending the “house party” themed night at Drapers to exploring central London’s club scene and finding our way back home on a series of buses at dawn.
But sometimes, we chose to return to the familiar. In our case, McDonalds. Picture a Saturday night, we had already “pre-ed” and stopped at one bar before heading over to a club, the same club we had visited Thursday night with no queue and no issues. But Saturday night was a different story. With a queue spanning multiple blocks, we knew when to call it quits. Opting for an evening of fries and McFlurries, we walked over the McDonalds, finding a queue and security managing the whole operation.
Fries: 6/10, less salty than I wanted (or needed) but welcomed.
Mozzarella Sticks: 9/10, crunchy exterior AND a cheese pull? Perfect. One point off for the dipping sauce (a barbecue salsa?).
Ranch: 0/10 for being non-existent and breaking this Midwesterner’s heart.