The following article is the second of a four-part series contributed by SJMC graduate student, Joshua Morrison. Stay tuned each day his week for more about the European trip or scroll down to check out yesterday’s post if you missed it!
What makes the study abroad format so unique is that the learning is decidedly not limited to the classroom or any formal setting. The unique appeal of the study abroad format is that so much of the learning comes from firsthand, unique cultural experiences.
While this year’s London/Europe study abroad team certainly enjoyed fascinating conversations with industry leaders in London, just see our last post, their experience was made complete by what the city of London itself had to offer.
Some students, like junior Lauren Frank, were most interested in London’s status as a cosmopolitan cultural hub. She said the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel on the River Thames, gave her a breathtaking view that really drove this home.
“Watching all the massive castles and skyscrapers become smaller and smaller was humbling,” she said. “I found myself in awe of how vast and multi-cultural London really was.”
Others, like junior Lucero Ibarra, were particularly interested in the outlying, more rural areas. She used her free day to get away from the city and explore Rochester, a village with a slower pace of living.
“Surrounded by woods and lakes, I got to experience what my English friend called ‘the real England,’” she said. “Seeing the lush countryside showed me that it was worth going outside of the city to find adventure.”
The easy access to richly historical sites provided ample opportunity for cultural exploration as well. All of the students took a tour of the Tower of London and had the opportunity to see The Crown Jewels. For some, this experience was the highlight of the trip.
“The experience I had at the Tower of London was all my historical fantasies come to life,” said senior Margaret-Katherinne Fast. “A step into a time of intrigue, mystery, and royal betrayal.”
Just being in London provided students with a glimpse into a different cultural climate and way of life. Perhaps one of the most interesting things students had the opportunity to do was simply talk to people, to hear them describe their way of life. That activity certainly resonated with senior Ashley Fajardo.
“I got to sit down and talk with people from the city and see how they lived,” she said. “They made me realize that it’s okay to slow down and take the scenes in, that’s what life is all about.”
Whatever their favorite part of their time in London, students are likely to return to the states with a tiny piece of British culture. Junior Victoria Chacon, for example, fell in love with tea time.
“I hope to incorporate that in my everyday life,” she said.