Home to iconic landmarks like Big Ben and The London Eye, as well as BBC favorites such as “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock”, London is a global city on the forefront of many major fields including healthcare, entertainment, education and finance, it is, in fact, one of the world’s leading financial centers.
With a history that dates back two millennia, while also at the leading edge of modern technological innovation, London can appeal to anyone. In fact, it is the most visited city in the world. A popular destination among many tourists, London is offered by UR as a study abroad destination for many majors and areas of study.
Junior Nicholas Falcone spent fall 2013 studying as a Financial Economics major in the “Big City”. He went abroad as part of Educational Programmes Abroad (EPA) in Europe. The University and EPA work together to sponsor semester-long study programs in Europe that offer coursework as well as eight-credit internships of the student’s choosing.
Falcone took two courses, Econometrics and International Economics, at the University of Westminster.
Econometrics involves a lot of data series modeling (like statistics), which, according to Falcone, is “useful for determining if relationships exist between different variables over time.”
International Economics is “focused mostly on gains from trade, how countries generally produce and export goods they are most efficient at producing, while they import goods they are less efficient at producing,” Falcone explained.
This class had a group final project, in which Falcone’s group members represented Russia, Denmark, India, St. Lucia, and Bulgaria.“We all worked well together and got to learn about each other’s home country and culture in the process” he said.
“This was probably my best educational memory from the UK.”
Falcone also completed an internship with Corsair Capital, a private equity firm that “invests money in private companies that operate in commercial banking, asset management and insurance,” according to the Corsair Capital website.
“The internship matching is a central part of EPA, and it’s the main reason I chose to go to London on that program,” Falcone said. His work with Corsair Capital included case study work outlining prior investments while also updating some models used to value companies.
When he wasn’t busy with coursework or interning, Falcone visited historical sites in London. He also travelled around Europe, visiting Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Paris. “The nice thing about Europe is that there are so many countries close together,” he observed. Students used Megabus to get around cheaply.
In Brussels, Falcone visited his girlfriend who was abroad in Denmark, “[We] spent a lot of time walking around Grand Place [and] tried varieties of chocolates and beer,” he said. The Grand Palace is the central square of Brussels and is the most memorable landmark of the city.
In Amsterdam, Falcone took a canal tour, visited the Anne Frank House, and stopped by the Rijksmuseum, a national art and history museum. On his last day, he stumbled on a traditional St. Nicholas Day parade, which he found interesting because of its lack of attention in the U.S.
In Copenhagen – where Falcone arrived just as the Christmas season was starting – he stayed with his girlfriend’s host family. “We walked around Amalienborg (a palace of the Danish royal family), and spent an evening in Tivoli (the famous Danish amusement park), which was lit up for Christmas,” he said. The Tivoli Gardens includes rides and performances, including theater and music, and is the second oldest amusement park in the world.
“Copenhagen has to be the cleanest city I’ve ever visited,” Falcone admitted.
His trip to Paris was to meet some relatives on his grandmother’s side who lived there. His explorations there included walking through the Luxembourg Garden and ending at the Palace. He then went on a boat ride through the Seine River. “Seeing the monuments lit up at night brought back a lot of memories from my last visit to Paris when I was 10,” Falcone said.
When he was just stationed in London with no work to complete, he said that he tried to explore London as much as possible. “I was even able to take a tour of Parliament from a friend who was interning there,” Falcone said.
“London is a very expensive city,” Falcone continued. “After converting Dollars to Pounds, things started to really add up.”
On the whole, he noted that it was a great experience. He found the director for the program to be very helpful, as she helped them “assimilate into London… while giving us enough space to explore London on [their] own.”
“The Tube (underground railway system) was easy to navigate, and we got to live in nice flats in central London,” he continued.
“I really hope I can make it back again someday.”
Kanakam is a member of the class 2017.