More people apply to the London Centre than any other Kennedy Center study abroad, and up to 164 students go on this program every year.
The London Centre study abroad, established in 1977, is the longest-running program offered through International Study Programs. The Jerusalem Center is not a Kennedy Center program, but it is the oldest running study abroad offered at BYU.
BYU international study programs director Lynn Elliott said the London Centre was under construction from mid-2013 to May 2014 for remodeling. It formally reopened in June 2014.
“The intent of the renovation was to keep the spirit and look of the building, but to update it,” Elliott said.
Remodeled areas included heating and mechanical elements, student living spaces and faculty apartments. The center also added an outside garden patio.
The London Centre, two adjoining three-story Victorian townhouses, is located on a quiet street in an exclusive neighborhood. It’s just north of Kensington Palace, and it’s also close to Hyde Park, Portobello Road and three Tube stops.
Mortensen, a senior studying English, attended the Summer 2016 London Centre program.
“As an English major, I studied so many of the texts and always wanted to see all the things I read about in person,” Mortensen said. “You learn about historical events and then your homework is to go see the things we learned in person.”
During the Summer 2016 term, the program offered courses on national identity, British literature and British history. These courses don’t require prerequisites and fulfill general education requirements for most students.
“They’re really good about trying to get general classes, not just for English majors,” Mortensen said. “The diversity is great in the classes.”
Mortensen said the London Centre is popular not only because it appeals to all majors but also because of what the city has to offer.
“By going to London you’ve traveled the world,” Mortensen said. “You see statues from the Parthenon, art museums with Picassos and Van Gogh — there’s just so much culture in one city.”
Public relations sophomore Regan Crandall also attended the London Centre in summer 2016. She studied there for seven weeks with about 40 other students.
Along with taking classes and studying, they traveled to various locations throughout England.
“We took a one-week trip up to the north of England,” Crandall said. “We traveled to the Lake District, went to Oxford and traveled all around England. It was probably one of the highlights of the program.”
International relations senior Jacob Nielsen is currently studying abroad at the London Centre.
“I think that the London Centre offers both diversity and familiarity for students at the same time,” Nielsen said in an email. “They get to experience life in a fast-paced, extremely modern and diverse city that also doubles as a very historical city.”
Nielsen also said people choose to come to London because it’s safe, English-speaking and more familiar than other parts of the world.
Elliott shared what makes BYU’s study abroad programs stand out among other programs.
“We try hard to make sure that BYU’s international programs meet the learning objective and mission statement of BYU,” Elliott said. “Students who go on BYU programs are going to have a BYU experience abroad.”