A Challenging and Rewarding Year Abroad
Sal Failla '09 was an IR/ ECON double major and was able to take courses in both disciplines at LSE. He enrolled in International Organizations; Sovereignty, Rights, and Justice - Issues in IPT; Introduction to Econometrics; and International Economics. He says that while he enjoyed all of his courses, his favorites were International Economics and Sovereignty, Rights and Justice. He describes the International Economics course as "challenging, because it covered such a wide range of topics", and particularly liked how it provided a historical perspective for exchange rate theories, though he was surprised that it required such a significant amount of calculus and algebra. His Sovereignty, Rights and Justice course covered broad topics in international political theory, and included a number of case studies on topics such as Somalia, Kosovo, Rwanda, and Vietnam.
While Sal felt that he was academically prepared for LSE, he also admits that it was a challenge. Although his courses had fewer contact hours than at USC, he estimates that he spent 50% - 100% more time outside of class on research and assignments. "Students are given a great deal of freedom to explore their interests" Sal explained, "but they are also expected to gain a certain level of expertise." He felt that discussion sessions were more 'interactive' than at USC, with teaching assistants doing almost no lecturing; instead students were expected to have read the required materials and make a meaningful contribution to discussion. Final exams were challenging as well, as they lasted three hours and covered material from the entire year. Sal worked hard at LSE, but also took full advantage of his free time, going to art galleries (his favorites were the National Picture Gallery and the Tate Modern) and traveling to Italy, Holland and Romania.
Now that he is back in the US, Sal says that he feels like a "world citizen" who is "open to people from other cultures" and "more understanding of international students at USC".
In the future, Sal plans to return to LSE to pursue a Masters in Environmental Policy.