June 22, 2016
My study abroad program was entitled Theatre in Britain, and was made up of two classes; Theatre in Britain, a Theatre course, and Stage to Page, and English course, both Honors Colloquium credits. My course work consisted of participation in class events and excursions, one scene analysis that was completed during pre-departure classes in Fayetteville, and daily blogs that I completed while abroad. To see all of my blog posts, visit my website, Defector, and to see blog posts from all of the participants on the trip, visit Theatre in Britain.
There were 10 students and 3 faculty members, and we all studied abroad in London for 28 wonderful days. These people became like family to me, and I am glad that I have made some forever friends while learning and immersing myself in a foreign culture. During the trip, I saw 23 theatrical productions, only 13 of which were required for class. I got to see a very broad range of theatre, from musicals, to Shakespeare, to modern dystopian pieces. My top three favorite shows that I saw on this trip were all musicals, but they were each unique and warranted the hype in their own rights. Mrs. Henderson Presents was a joyful musical about keeping spirits up during WWII. Titanic was a small but extremely effective retelling of the legendary tale of the ship that could not be sunk. Book of Mormon was a hilarious satirical musical about people of all different ethnicities and religions, and it was made even better because I won cheap front row tickets to the show! Along with all of the shows, we saw many historically significant sites and monuments. But I learned so much more than just theatre on this trip!
Being in a foreign country for so long broadens your horizons. You quickly learn to be fearless in travel. The first day we arrived in London, I was hesitant to go out exploring on my own. Learning the Underground system seemed like a daunting task at first, but I quickly adapted, and soon, I was off and adventuring by myself. As long as you know your final destination, the tube is very easy to navigate and user-friendly. Access to such a great resource allowed me to fulfill many of my traveling dreams. I really wish that more places in America had a mass transit system as effective as the Underground, but I fear that it is too late to start such a massive project.
Some of the highlights from this trip included visiting the Tower of London, watching the Trouping of the Colours at Buckingham Palace, absorbing modern art at the Tate Modern Art Museum, seeing Shakespeare performed at The Globe theatre, and visiting the Warner Brothers Studios and touring many of the sets from the Harry Potter series. We took several excursions; Stratford-upon-Avon: the birthplace of Shakespeare, Kenilworth Castle, and Paris for a long weekend. Paris was quite a crazy adventure. I feel like I would have liked in more if I had gotten to stay longer than just three days, but the city left me disappointed.
I definitely fell in love with London on this trip. Many of the people who I met were very kind, all of the food I had was outstanding, and there was no language barrier to tackle. One of my favorite day-to-day places to eat was Pret a Manger, a healthy fast food place that was surprisingly cheap! The food was delicious and allowed my money to go a long way! I finished this trip under my budget, and was able to spend a little extra on souvenirs for myself and my family.
The number one thing that I learned on this trip was appreciation. I learned to appreciate theatre, and learned how to judge whether a piece is good or bad. I also learned that there is a difference between liking a show and knowing that it is powerful. I saw many very powerful performances that I did not necessarily love. I learned to appreciate forms of government other than democracy. The UK has a very different political system than we do here in America, but it works just as well. While in London, I was able to witness many socialist programs that work for everyone’s good. Finally, I learned to appreciate some of the simple pleasures that we enjoy in America, such as air conditioning, not having to live out of a suitcase, restrictions on public smoking and drinking, and salty food.
I am so glad to be home with my family and friends! The 9 hour flight back was long but worth it. I am slowly catching up on my sleep. I spent my first full day back unpacking, organizing my room, and using an Amope to smooth out the calluses that my feet developed from wearing Chacos almost every day while abroad.
I am so blessed that I was able to have this amazing experience, and I owe a lot of that to the 50% grant that I got from the Honors College. I will never forget this amazing trip, and I am already itching to go out and travel some more!