Studying in a truly international environment at Richmond, The American International University in London: Sky Harsch
“Two thirds of the student body here at Richmond are non-UK residents, so the school is used to international students and are incredibly helpful with any challenges we might face.”
Richmond is a private, non-profit American liberal arts and business studies university situated in the bustling city of London. With over 1,500 students from over 100 different countries, the university prides itself on creating a welcoming and global environment for students from all around the world.
We are a global community, with staff and students from over 120 different nations. We live by our motto ‘Unity in Diversity’ and aim to create confident, knowledgeable and international focussed graduates.
- Felicity Lloyd, Senior Recruitment Officer, Richmond
SchoolApply interviewed Sky Harsch, a freshman from the United States, to learn about her social and academic experiences as an international student at Richmond.
RICHMOND, THE AMERICAN INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY IN LONDON
Location: London, England (UK)
Student Name: Sky Harsch
From: Michigan, United States
Graduation: Spring 2021
Favorite class: My favorite class has to be Comparative Political Systems. I loved the environment because my teacher was very personable and helpful and I could really follow his teaching methods. We often had group discussions where the class would sit in a circle to discuss our views on what we were learning and own political experiences from our home countries.
Favorite school event: My favorite school event so far has been our start of term boat party. All first-years in their first week of orientation are invited to a party on a tour boat while it floats down the River Thames. It was a really great place to meet people and, of course, dance and have a lot of fun too!
Four words to describe ESCP Europe: Close-knit, Inclusive, Diverse, Student-oriented
Tell us a little about yourself. Where have you lived and studied?
I was born and raised in a small lake town in west Michigan in the United States. I lived and studied in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for one year while in high school and I now study at Richmond.
I started my academic career in my home town of Whitehall, Michigan, where I went to public school from kindergarten to my second year of high school. I participated in many extracurricular activities including sports teams, music and theater groups. For my third year of high school, I participated in the Rotary Youth Ambassadorial Exchange where I went to live and study in Brazil for a year to promote cultural acceptance, learn about other cultures and become fluent in Portuguese. I then returned to my hometown for my fourth year of high school to graduate in the US. I worked hard in my K-12 academic life to maintain good grades and always kept busy with activities.
How did you hear about Richmond and what made you decide to study in England?
I was looking for something extremely international where I could meet lots of people and make connections and especially “be in the middle of it all.” I got an email from Richmond while I was applying for universities, and after some research and a visit to their booth at a nearby college fair, I was absolutely in love with everything about the university and knew it was the best fit for me. It met all of my criteria for the perfect university.
Did you have any problems adjusting to life in a new country and university?
London is a huge and diverse city, so it did take some time to get used to all the hustle and bustle. However, Richmond’s two campus locations make the transition as smooth as possible for all students. Students spend the first two years in a slightly more removed, family environment in the Richmond Hill Campus and then complete their final two years in the center of London in the Kensington Campus.
What degree are you pursuing and why?
I am currently studying for my BA in International Relations. I chose this specific course because I have a passion for politics and have always wanted to be active in political change. My experience as a student ambassador highlighted my love of public speaking and cultural communication, so I felt International Relations was the best fit for me.
Do your current studies support your interest and talent? If so, how?
Yes, my current studies support my interest in politics and world events with many international relations and politics-based classes to choose from. The program also supports my interests in communication, anthropology and languages by providing electives in higher level language learning and political science.
What has your academic and social experience been like as an international student at Richmond?
Two thirds of the student body here at Richmond are non-UK residents, so the school is used to international students and is incredibly helpful with any challenges we might face. There are always school events being held so students can meet new people and be social. We have everything from Chinese New Year celebrations and NFL Superbowl parties to winter balls, Halloween parties, international talent nights and much more.
The area of Richmond itself has a lot to offer in terms of things to do. There is Richmond Park which is beautiful to take walks with your friends and have picnics on sunny days. There’s also the river walk and downtown Richmond, which have lots of cafes, bars, outside restaurants and clothing stores to keep you busy any time of the day.
In the main city of London, there are obviously endless opportunities for fun things to do during the day and also amazing nightlife. My friends and I often visit exhibits at the free art galleries and museums, as well as go out often to enjoy all of the clubs on the weekends. Being in London also gives you amazing access to travel opportunities and both school and student organized trips to close by countries are very common (and cheap too!). Groups will often organize weekend trips and also go country hopping around western Europe during longer breaks.
What were your first impressions of Richmond?
I was completely in awe when I saw the campus for the first time. Richmond’s main building (the building where we live and also have some classes) is literally a castle and it is incredibly beautiful. I love how close all of the students are here, how open everyone is and how quickly everyone became friends. I definitely felt safe and accepted from the very beginning of my time here. With the small school size and so many opportunities to interact and socialize with other students, I already knew at least one person in each of my courses by the time classes started and I didn’t feel nervous on my first day.
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What do you like the most about the new culture you are experiencing?
I think the thing I love most about the English culture so far is their sense of humor. My roommate, who is from the South Hampton area of England, is incredibly witty and often has me tearing up from laughter after a few of her one-liners. More broadly, I love the people here. The relationships I have with my roommate and other school friends are very special and I will be grateful for them throughout the rest of my life.
Do you take part in any extracurricular activities at Richmond?
I participate in the Rotary Club of Kew Gardens where I volunteer to help with their bigger fundraising events and I hope to join an Interact/Roteract club in the Richmond district. Service projects are very much encouraged at Richmond and the school often organizes fairs full of volunteer opportunities.
Do you have a job while studying?
I work for the school as a student ambassador, running open days and applicant days, speaking with prospective students and parents of students, and helping to make Richmond a great place for incoming first years. It is very easy to hold a job while studying because students are allowed to create their own timetables and schedule school and work in such a way as to not be overwhelmed.
What are your plans after you graduate?
I plan to temporarily move back to the US to work and be with my family until I earn enough money to go to graduate school. I hope to eventually get a job overseas, with my dream job being either an international public official or an ambassador of sorts.
How has Richmond prepared you for life after college?
Richmond’s accepting and understanding environment has taught me so much about other people and the world around me already that I believe by the time I graduate, I will have the educational, social and cultural experience I need to thrive in my career and in this incredibly international city.
How has studying abroad changed you?
Studying abroad has made me more self-reliant, accepting, outgoing, goal-oriented and better at solving problems. It has allowed me to dream bigger and reach higher than I ever would have before this experience. Living and studying abroad has strengthened every part of who I am and has helped me on my path towards becoming the best version of myself.
What would you say to international students who are considering studying at Richmond?
If you are a student who is looking to live globally, excel educationally and socially, meet incredible people from all around the world, learn and grow more than you thought was possible, and have A LOT of fun along the way – then Richmond is definitely for you.
If you are interested in applying to Richmond, click here to get more information and submit your application.