An (Honest) Richmond: The American International University in London Review

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Hey future Richmond students! If you’re considering coming to London, check out my updated eBook on everything you need to know about studying abroad in London. Feel free to e-mail me as well at girlgonelondon@gmail.com

Richmond: The American International University in London was the third university I studied abroad with, and I ended my senior year with them.

Hey, sidenote! If you’re traveling to the UK or live in the UK, whether for a short period of time or as an expat, why don’t you join my Facebook group where you can ask questions, get advice or just look at pretty pictures of this part of the world! Just click here to request to join and I’ll add you!

Before I jump into this Richmond: The American International University in London review, make sure to check out some of my other resources on life in the UK, including how to move from America to London, my UCL review, my University of Westminster review, and why you shouldn’t be nervous to study abroad in London.

And, finally, all students studying abroad in London should take the time to read my ultimate guide to studying abroad in London for 23 tips that can make or break your experience in the UK.

If you have visitors coming to London while you’re there, make sure they purchase the London Pass to get into attractions for a discounted price!

Richmond: The American International University in London Location

As a study abroad student, I lived on Richmond’s Kensington campus.

Richmond also has its undergraduate campus in an area called Richmond (imagine that), but I only experienced Richmond’s Kensington campus, as it houses the majority of study abroad students, as well as Richmond’s upperclassman.

 

Queens Gate terrace

Queens Gate Terrace, London

Kensington is considered a ‘royal’ borough in London, famous for its museums and royal history and upper class residents.

I lived in one of Richmond’s residence halls, Ambassador House, which was less than a 10 minute walk to the main building and dining hall and one of the most beautiful places I have ever called home.

I mean, my road was called “Queen’s Gate Terrace” and at the corner is an Italian restaurant that was frequented by Princess Diana. Does it get better than that?

Plot twist: yes, it does!

Quite literally down the road from the campus is Hyde Park, London’s biggest park and home to Kensington Palace (Diana’s residence and Will and Kate’s current home).

On more than on occasion, my friends and I basically ate lunch on Will and Kate’s front lawn, which I think is what people really mean when they refer to the “American dream.”

Hydepark

Hyde Park, London

Kensington High Street, a popular street with almost every shop you can think of, is also close by and provided the perfect excuse to spend a few minutes hours shopping after class.

They have almost every restaurant and UK shopping option you can think of, including a TKMaxx for when you realize that there is no Ross in the UK.

Richmond: The American International University in London Dorms and Facilities

Richmond’s main building in Kensington, Atlantic House, houses the largest amount of students and also contains a dining room, large common room, computer lab, library, and student advisor offices.

You can read more about the differences between Atlantic House and Ambassador House, as they are pretty different and come with pros and cons.

richmonduniversitydininghall

Part of the Richmond: The American International University in London dining room, lower level

The dining room at Richmond’s Atlantic House was the perfect size for the amount of students that attended, and there is an upstairs seating area that was usually a bit more quiet.

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The food was similar to what I have experienced in other dining halls, but many Fridays at Richmond were what we affectionately referred to as “Pizza and cookies” night.

I’ll be honest, it was not uncommon to completely rearrange our Friday plans to make sure we were there.

I’m not sure if that spoke to how poor we were as students and how much we relied on pizza night for sustenance or if it just means we really loved pizza. Probably a bit of both.

The common room and computer labs were also larger than I expected and it’s a lifesaver to have a place to print travel tickets or final class papers.

This is where it would have come in handy to live in Atlantic House, as Ambassador House didn’t have a computer lab or dining room, and only had one lounge area in the front of the building, but ultimately I was happy to have ended up in Ambassador House.

Overall, the Richmond University London dorms were cozy and comfortable and I would recommend them!

Richmond: The American International University in London Staff

Compared to other universities I’ve studied abroad with, Richmond’s advisors and staff were some of the most involved and helpful.

They’re really trained to handle it all and knew each of us by name even when we first arrived.

Luckily I didn’t need to use their expertise for any major issues, but I felt completely safe knowing that they were there if I did.

I even did an internship with Richmond through AIFS, and the Internship staff were some of my favorite people I met in my entire study abroad journey.

Once I had decided that I was going to move back to London from America, my internship co-coordinator helped me with resources on how to find a flat in London and what areas of London to live in.

As mentioned, their offices are in Atlantic House right before the dining hall, so they were never far and always popped in to meals to say hi and see how everyone was doing.

Richmond residence life staff also work really hard to put on programs and excursions for students, and there was rarely a night without an event on for whoever was interested.

Richmond: The American International University in London Overall

To be honest, Richmond’s Kensington campus is in such an amazing location that they could probably rest on that laurel if they wanted to. But the great part about Richmond is they don’t.

They’ve worked hard to make their campus welcoming and active, which goes a long way to make their international and study abroad students feel comfortable participating in activities.

I would definitely recommend Richmond to anyone, and if you do decide to go, please let me in for pizza night.

For any questions about my experience with Richmond, email me at girlgonelondon@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to answer!

You should also check out my list for what to pack when studying abroad in London so you don’t forget anything. My specific guide for Richmond is below. 

What to Bring when You Study Abroad at Richmond: The American International University in London

When you study abroad at Richmond, you’ll be living in dorms, most of them without kitchens in them, so you’ll want to prep for a dorm situation instead of an apartment-style one.

Things that are provided are furniture (desk, cupboards, a bit of storage) and your bedding, so no need to worry about that! You can also check out my thoughts on more general things to bring when studying abroad in the link above. In addition, you should think about bringing or buying…

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Shower Caddy

The showers at Richmond are usually shared between multiple people. They can be dorm-style, where you have a couple bathrooms for the hallway and 10+ people share them, or you can have a private one, like I did inside of a triple room at Ambassador House.

Whatever your bathroom situation, having a shower caddy like this one to keep all of your toiletries in is a lifesaver when trying to stay organized. Go for one like this that’s mesh or one like this that’s hard plastic. 

Good headphones

While at Richmond, I shared a room with two other girls, who I loved, but it still meant that to study or to sleep, it was sometimes necessary to wear headphones with music to drown out the noise of people showering or coming in and out of the room. 

Good headphones like these ones will also come in handy when you’re on the tube traveling to various parts of London. If you’re smushed up against all of humanity, you might as well do it while listening to some of your favorite tunes!

Makeup from home

There’s no Target in the UK, no Sephora in the UK, and no Ulta in the UK, so often students find it easier to just bring their favorite makeup from home rather than getting it in the UK. Bring enough for your semester and you’ll be good to go. Or, branch out and try some new brands that they sell at British drugstores like Boots. 

Adaptors and converters

To make your electronics work in your dorm room, you’ll need a plug adapter like this one that makes your American plug fit into a UK plug socket. You physically will not be able to charge anything without them, so buy yourself a multi-pack like these so you can still lose one and not worry. 

Laundry bag

You have to do your own laundry at Richmond, just like in many colleges, but you’re not going to want to haul a big laundry basket around (though I would like to see the look on the gate agent’s face when you try to bring your laundry basket on your flight).

Instead, bring a mesh laundry bag like this one so you can keep your laundry in its own little pile and easily haul it to the machines without letting it exploded all over your room. 

Comfortable walking shoes

For study abroad students at the Kensington Campus, Richmond is very much a city campus with a few buildings on one street and then another building or two on surrounding streets. In and amongst their building are other residences and buildings.

You’re going to be walking a lot, whether it’s to and from class or just throughout London (on the first night of my study abroad experience, I walked for like an hour and a half round trip with my roommate to get to Westminster!)

Grab yourself a pair of comfortable shoes like these cute ones to take London by storm. 

Backpack or day bag

Don’t forget that you’re going to need to be, you know, a student, while at Richmond – not just a London explorer. Bring a backpack like this one that will keep all of your school needs handled, or opt for more of a day bag or big purse like this one that is both comfortable to wear and also big enough to hold all of your binders and pens.

Carrying a backpack around London is a very normal thing to do, as many commuters choose this as a way of carrying their things around, so you won’t look out of place and actually may blend in even more!

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Girl, Independent

4 years ago

This is a really good idea for a series! I guess I took for granted being at to visit my UK universities before making a decision. Good plan!

kaylageigerman

4 years ago

I MISS THIS SO MUCH. THE CAMPUS, PIZZA AND COOKIE NIGHT, HIGH STREET, EVEN THAT STUPID FAN CULTURE CLASS THAT SEEMED TO LAST 5 HOURS EVERY THURSDAY. Ughhhh. We need a time machine.

Alexis L Voisard

1 week ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this blog post! I’ve been searching everywhere across the internet to find more student-based content for Richmond, and your information has exceeded my expectations! I’m going to be studying abroad at Richmond this upcoming fall semester, and I’m so excited! Your article has helped give me a clear vision of what my experience will be like living on campus!

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