Olya Voronetskaya ’17 always wanted to go to London. As a junior, the Integrated Business and Engineering (IBE) student got her chance when she decided to study abroad at the renowned London School of Economics for a year.
In fact, Voronetskaya was the first IBE student to study abroad for a full year, and she had a lot of assistance through the planning process and course selection. She said it was a fuller experience and that she "really wanted to soak everything up."
Having completed much of the math-heavy coursework for her IBE degree in her first two years at Lehigh, she was able to enjoy courses in London that offered her a broad perspective, such as international relations and an advanced economics course. Another course in international political theory, in particular she said, taught her to think differently and see connections among stories in the news.
As for the advanced economics courses, she felt quite prepared, saying the mathematical core and introductory courses at Lehigh “gave me a very solid foundation" for the economic elective courses she took there.
“If anything, I was better prepared having had more actual economic theory and history,” she added.
Voronetskaya says studying in London “opened my eyes on other perspectives, approaches, and ways of teaching and learning,” citing, “a completely different exam format,” “practically independent studies” with reading-based assignments and essay-based exams.
Overall, she said, the London School of Economis required an independent approach to her studies, "which I think is critical for a transition between university and the workforce.”
Voronetskaya said one of the highlights of her time in London was helping to organize the two-day Alternative Investments Conference, which allows students to hear from world-class speakers such as David Bonderman, founding partner of TPG Capital, and David Rubenstein, co-founder of The Carlyle Group. With approximately 300 spots and 7,700 total applications to attend, Voronetskaya said the conference drew some “stellar students,” three of whom came from Lehigh.
Another activity Voronetskaya said she enjoyed was the LSE Student Union Fashion Show, where startup designers showcase their clothing. She said she’s also made some good memories travelling around England, to places such as Stonehenge, Oxford, Cambridge, Canterbury Cathedral Windsor. She also visited Scotland.
Voronetskaya said most of the 300 (mostly American) exchange students at LSE tended to group together, missing the chance to interact with other LSE students. Voronetskaya said she attempted to upend that trend and purposely tried to meet as many different people as possible.
She said she also found that students at LSE are much more well-travelled—having been to places such as Asia and Africa, in addition to Europe—and more interested in other cultures and international relations.
While Voronetskaya didn’t have to worry about obtaining an internship—she lined one up earlier—she praised LSE’s career services, noting early coffee talks and internship fairs allowed students to be proactive in their career planning.
Voronetskaya said she’s sure her study-abroad experience will give her “something to talk about in an interview.” She said she’s pleased to put her year at LSE and her help with the Alternative Investments Conference on her resume – memories she’ll likely recount for a long time to come.
Story by Elizabeth Gross