I believe everyone should entertain the possibility of studying outside their country of origin – if feasible of course- even if it is for a single semester. The more practical reasons would include the possible higher quality of education but from my own experiences, it really is the best way to experience independence and to build individuality. I was born in the UK and I moved to India at the age of 7. Pretty much ever since then, I had my heart set on returning to the UK and studying there made the most sense as I got older. Once I discovered my passion for Patisserie, studying at a Le Cordon Bleu school was a no-brainer. I had my heart set on their Patisserie diploma for a while, but my parents insisted that I complete my undergraduate degree in India and then do any further degrees outside the country. So, I left for the UK after graduating from IHM Mumbai.
The application process and travel were pretty simple for me, being a British Citizen. I had to write a Personal Statement and my IELTS score and arrived in London in July 2019. Le Cordon Bleu London is located quite centrally, and I thus chose to live in Central London for the 6 months of the diploma. To be completely honest, that entire period was one of the best experiences of my life! I used to live right in the heart of London and areas such as Soho, Covent Garden and Piccadilly Circus were all a mere 10-minute walk away from my accommodation. It also meant that shopping was incredibly easy for me, and I had an absolute blast! I would recommend staying in designated student accommodation to anyone planning to study in London. They’re a great way to meet fellow students and are not as expensive as shared apartments while remaining quite pleasant overall. I lived in a shared room and had 3 different roommates throughout my stay. I found the place merely by doing an extensive google search on student housing. Multiple websites act as portals to enquire about various styles of accommodation. Airbnb’s are a good option as well.
Travel is also very easy and accessible in London and throughout the UK in general. London, however, is on the more expensive side, but depending on the duration of the course, and thus, the visa acquired, part-time and weekend jobs are easily available. Since the school is not part of a university and does not really have a “campus” I did not get to experience a lot of “traditional” college activities. However, I immediately made a group of amazing friends and together, we would all explore the city and honestly, go out to eat a lot. The choices and diversity of food available in London are incredible!
I graduated from LCB in December 2019 and came back home for the holidays. I then went back to London to start my Masters’ degree in Hospitality. While I was studying at IHM, Sommet education visited my college multiple times for seminars and such. It was from them that I heard of GIHE (Glion Institute of Higher Education). I did some further research and discovered that Glion was based in Switzerland and London and was ranked very highly among Swiss Hospitality Schools (GIHE is now ranked 2nd worldwide!). I was in contact with Sommet Education representatives in Mumbai, and thus after I applied directly to the college website, I was asked to complete the application process through the office in Mumbai. During this process, I also happened to meet a Swiss representative of the school as he was visiting India at the time. I had to write a Letter of Motivation and submit a Reference Letter along with my transcripts. Indian students would have to give an English aptitude exam (IELTS OR TOEFL). I would highly recommend contacting such college portals and agents as they make the entire application process a lot smoother along with providing advice from start to finish.
GIHE London is located in Zone 3 of London, in the University of Roehampton campus. After living on Oxford Street for six months, I was actually really looking forward to living in a peaceful neighbourhood. I live on campus and the flat I live in is exclusively for Glion students. I should mention that majority of the student housing facilities do not include any form of food and thus, anyone interested in studying in the UK should start learning how to cook! The accommodation facilities also do not usually involve cleaning and/or laundry and thus, one must perform all their own chores and quite literally, look after themselves! I have actually found looking after myself to be genuinely enjoyable and extremely therapeutic. Sadly, the lockdown was initiated a month after my semester started in February 2020 and thus I did not really get to participate in any campus events as they were all cancelled.
As far as recreational activities go, London has an ample number of tourist spots and loads of parks and “picnic” areas. However, the weather is not always great. The Summer has actually been surprisingly pleasant and warm for the last two years but for the most part, the weather is rainy, and it can get quite cold in the Winter, but it isn’t anything extreme. I currently have another semester left before I graduate and will then have to start working. My college has been very helpful with job hunting and placements and has its own career portal which is a great help. As of now, I have had the best year of my life and I do plan on continuing to live in the UK for the foreseeable future.
In terms of adversities faced, the one major issue to note is that to obtain a SIM card, you need to have an English bank account. So, for people planning to study in the UK, I would suggest you prepare yourselves with a long roaming plan for up to 2-3 weeks. Similarly, to work in the UK, everyone needs a national insurance number and it took me around 3 months to receive mine, starting from the time I applied to the time I received it.
To sum up my experiences, I have found London to be an extremely welcoming city and almost all the people I have met have been nothing but helpful and warm and generally lovely. Student support and facilities in the city are fantastic with discounts and assistance everywhere! Food is not a problem at all and as a Chef, one of my favourite things about the UK is the groceries available everywhere! Travel is a breeze and the country itself is rather small, which makes day trips to other cities very accessible. London universities also attract a lot of Indians, so I’m sure everyone would feel right at home!