How I Spent My Summer Travelling In London
Anirudh Pisharam from the Class of 2019 talks about his time in London, from the streets
Major at Ashoka: Economics and Finance
Course at LSE: Options, Futures, and Other Derivatives
One of my objectives for an ideal summer program abroad was to explore something I wouldn’t be able to at Ashoka. The Finance department at Ashoka did not offer a dedicated course in Options, Futures and Other financial Derivatives. Hence, an opportunity to take the course at a renowned institution like LSE was simply one I couldn’t miss.
One thing that surprised me during the course was how integral finance is in our daily lives. We often get the impression that finance involves people sitting in offices making money while contributing nothing substantial to society. However, I learnt how this is not necessarily the case. Even when we learnt advanced concepts like exotic options and swaps, I realized how understated their importance is.
This was only my second course in Finance after the introductory course, and I did not have much prior knowledge in the field. But the instructors ensured that this didn’t hamper my experience. Throughout the 3 weeks, while I learnt some new things that did build-up on my introductory course, most of our course materials were stand-alone and helped me explore areas of the financial world previously unknown to me.
The professors always tried to make sure the course was accessible to all sorts of students, even though the topics we covered often encountered limited accessibility, especially to those that were uncomfortable with math. The course required a beginner-to-intermediate level of integral calculus and an understanding of Taylor series. A big chunk of the course deals with Ito Calculus, which is a separate branch of calculus but was be taught during the course. Ultimately, what I found most important to the course was a hunger to learn and an ability to learn and absorb quickly, considering that it lasted for only 3 weeks! This meant that those looking to enjoy and explore London struggled to keep up.
One of the major changes for me during the summer school was the experience of living in a hostel outside the campus and travelling to class every day. Unlike in Ashoka, where everything is so close by, I found this sort of independence both limiting, as well as liberating.
While travelling ate up a good chunk of my time, living in central London also gave me opportunities to go around and explore. The vibrancy and diversity of life in the city, and especially in one like London, is absolutely mind-boggling.
Some tips for those going to London:
1. The first thing I did was to save the Google Maps for the Greater London area offline. I found this to be immeasurably helpful. One of my favourite things to do was to walk around the city in the evenings, often without anything particular in mind, just absorbing the life and energy of the place. Maps gave the freedom to walk, travel and explore London without fear of getting lost.
2. Carrying your student ID card is a great way to save money. A lot of places in London, including museums, restaurants and pubs offer student discounts from anywhere between 10 to 25%! Another useful thing (this is something I wish I’d done but didn’t) is to take advantage of roaming services provided by telecom companies like Vodafone and Airtel, instead of depending on other services like Matrix. The plans of the former were substantially cheaper and worked better than that of the latter.
My time in London coincided with the World Cup, and one of my best experiences was catching the England games in the local pubs. The Three Lions performed admirably, and it was brilliant to see the usually negative supporters rallying behind their national side. The experience was exhilarating, and it was hard to not feel the passion and energy and join in with the rest. An especially memorable game was the last-16 match versus Colombia. The roller-coaster of emotions in a historic penalty shootout which England eventually won was unforgettable. After “52 years of hurt”, the supporters began to believe that Football was really coming home.
London is a historic city and is the subject of a lot of quotes. One that really struck me was by the author Samuel Johnson. He once wrote that “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Now, this is obviously a little superfluous, but I would agree with the general sentiment behind those words. London offers a lot as one of the most diverse cities in the world, and one can see the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in this city. It caters to everyone’s taste and palate and ensures that everyone has something to take away from the city.
The Edict would like to thank Ms. Anuja Kelkar from the Office of International Programs for her support in making this series possible. Ms. Kelkar is the one-woman army at the office who helps Ashokans with the arduous process of applying for and attending summer school. If you wish to attend summer school during your time at Ashoka, it might be best to approach Ms. Kelkar as the first step.