During my first three years of college, I was hesitant to study abroad because I can only speak English, and I would hate to miss an internship opportunity if I studied abroad for a full semester. Fortunately, the London Scholars Program provided a study abroad opportunity that I could not pass up.
The program caught my attention after several of my friends and classmates ventured to London in the summer of 2012. After drooling over pictures and fun stories they shared, I knew that I was missing out on the perfect study abroad experience.
The program is a three-credit hour course, including a three-week residency in London. To earn credit, the class met weekly throughout the 2013 spring semester for academic preparation prior to the trip.
We had a class of 12 students in a variety of grades and majors. During our class time on-campus, our professor, Robin Visel, adjunct faculty member, gave an overview of London’s history, society and culture. She also provided travel information and assisted in the planning of our research projects.
Conducting an individual research project was a requirement to the course. The project could be in the form of a traditional research paper, blog or video. We were able to choose our own research topics as long as the bulk of the work could only be completed in London.
During on-campus class time, we made trip itineraries and planned out places to visit in order to get the most out of London once we arrived there.
In London, we had a majority of the three weeks to explore on our own. We also met for class three half-days per week to report the progress of our research projects, re-group and discuss activities we could do as a class.
My research project changed its focus several times throughout the trip. I wanted to incorporate my photography and display the photos through a photo blog, but I needed to create a more specific topic. With the help of Visel and classmates, I decided to create a photo blog for tourists that included my photos with a bit of information about various tours I participated in and areas of London where I explored.
This research topic was perfect for me as a first-time London traveler because almost anything I came across while exploring could be included into my project. As a musician and a music fan of all genres, I won’t forget coming across a band named The King’s Parade.
I happened to be walking through Camden Town while I was completing a self-guided walking tour of Regent’s Canal when I heard The King’s Parade performing. It was a perfect photo opportunity to capture the culture and street performances scattered throughout London. It also exposed me to a band that I really enjoy and continue to listen to now.
We had the opportunity to learn about new things through our classmate’s research projects by listening to them report in class or joining others to gather research. Other research topics included London’s legal system, security at sporting events and haunted locations.
During the three-week stay, Visel also planned several activities in order for us to gain a well-rounded experience in London. We ate Indian cuisine, saw a play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and ventured through the Tower of London.
Several of us took a few days to travel outside of London to Ireland, Paris and other places on our own. I felt that we had a perfect balance between class and free time so that we experienced a lot on our own, but still had plenty of guidance.
The course added much to our London experience, especially to those of us who were traveling abroad for the first time. It made my first time studying abroad much easier and helped me feel comfortable on my own in a different country.
I’m very glad I took part in the London Scholars Program. I would recommend it to anyone considering studying abroad.
Click here to view Sarah’s photo blog.
Written by: Sarah Foltz