When people ask me where I am studying abroad, there’s a catch in my breath before I tell them London. For all of London’s glittery charm, historic and literary appeal, and world-wide renown, there’s an expectation for students my age to be going somewhere very different. Read: Africa, Middle East, Haiti.
John Oliver, one of my favorite comedians, describes the UK as “Europe’s America.” Many of the blogs I’ve read have echoed this sentiment, and I know that I will find a lot of similarities between my home country and my place of study. It won’t be hard to find a burger or catch a movie my friends are seeing at home. I don’t have to use a foreign language in my day-to-day studies. How can I make this a meaningful experience?
No matter what, traveling changes a person. Despite London’s similarities to the US in general, there will be a huge switch for me from living in a small town to living in a huge metropolis. I will have to navigate public transportation regularly, cook my own meals using groceries from local markets, and exchange currency I’ve never had to use before. Though English is used, there is a language shift between England and America. These reasons and many more will bring me out of my comfort zone, even if England isn’t the most culturally shocking study abroad experience out there.
Besides the hopes of becoming a more independent and culturally aware person, why did I choose England and London? I am currently studying English at St. Norbert College, and the prospect of being able to live in the same area as Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and so many wrote and lived is amazing. My favorite novels, dramas, and even television shows come from the United Kingdom. How mind-boggling is it that I could potentially take a Shakespeare class on a Tuesday morning, catch a ride to Stratford-Upon-Avon the afternoon, and stand in the reconstructed Globe Theatre that night. These are the things that make me giddy.
There’s also my romantic idea of London in all its history and glamour. Like many Americans, I am intrigued by the idea of a royal family, complete with palaces, armed guards, and coronations. I can’t wait to be surrounded by so much history!
And finally: with so many colleges and universities in London, why Goldsmiths? I chose Goldsmiths from a possible four colleges in London St. Norbert offers. I ended up with this one because of its strong liberal arts curriculum, small, quirky town feel, and tight campus. I will have plenty of time to spend in the actual city of London, but a home base in New Cross will be much more my pace I think, with enough open coffee shops, walking paths, and secondhand bookstores to keep me happy for a long time.
Tune in soon for packing lists, my bucket list, favorite British works, and more!
Been to England (or Europe!) before? Drop a comment and tell me where I should go!