This Monday, January 28th, over 20 MC students will be flying nearly halfway across the world to spend over 3 months studying abroad in London…
…One year ago, this was me.
It’s so hard to believe that only one year ago, I was arriving at Gatwick Airport in England to encounter and experience the greatest adventure of my entire life. From reading Underground, double decker, and city maps, booking trips to other countries during down time, learning the transit systems, completely immersing in a new culture, and having the freedom to be completely independent while budgeting constantly between pounds and U.S. dollars, it was incredible the amount of knowledge, wisdom, experience, excitement, and adventure I gained from studying abroad in London, England.
It’s impossible to even begin to talk about everything, because it would literally take pages and pages and pages of blogs. So rather, here’s a list of some of my favorite experiences while studying abroad and some things I learned:
1. We had the opportunity to take classes with actual London professors. We got to take Theatre with Ian Herbert, who is a theatre critique for the National Theatre along with assistant editor to one of London’s famous fine arts magazines. Part of the class? Attending world-renowned productions, plays, and musicals in the heart of Shakespeare and theatre itself. Another class we took was London History & Culture, which we took with the Rumbelows who are a husband/wife “Blue Badge” team. Mr. Rumbelow has been featured on the History Channel multiple times, and also has written an accredited book on the history behind Jack the Ripper. We also took European Art History with Dr. Bracken, who has served as a curator or art historian expert for museums such as the British Museum and the famous V&A. ALL of these classes took place mostly outside of the classroom, going everywhere from Hyde Park to Buckingham Palace to the National Gallery… we literally went all over London.
2. No matter where I went, there was so much enrichment of history and culture, along with modern trends, major politics, and city life. It wasn’t unusual to walk into a pub established in 1529, or run into a celebrity after getting out of West End production. (Yes, I met Zach Braff and The Band Perry RANDOMLY, y’all.) There is just so much color and flavor to this city.
3. For 5 weeks, I got to live with a British homestay family. I had the absolute honor and pleasure of living with Roger and Liz Boustread. Homestay was where I really got to immerse myself in British culture. From British roast on Sundays to BBC every night on the tele before bed, from breakfast tea at dinner to tobaggoning on snowy days, it was the absolute best experience I could have asked for. Mallory (my homestay roommate) and I even got to play music in my homestay Mum and Dad’s home church in the outskirts of London!
4. I literally had the opportunity to travel all over, because going to different countries in Europe is like going from state-to-state in the U.S. Some of the places I went (some of MANY, MANY, MANY!) include:
-In England: Bath, York, Liverpool, Stonehenge, Oxford, Canterbury, Cambridge, Dover, and Brighton. In Scotland: Edinburgh, Coventry, The Highlands, and Lochness. Wales; Paris, France; Copenhagen, Denmark; Malmo, Sweden… Yea, just lots of places
5. Theatre was one of my all-time favorite parts of living in London. Many of us would run to any West End ticket box office before class and get “morning-of” student discount tickets for any given theatre production that night. Wicked, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, Guys & Dolls, Legally Blonde the Musical, Ghost, The Woman in Black, Richard III, Anne Frank, and The House of Bernarda Alba are some of over 40 plays, musicals, or productions that we got to see while we were living in England.
6. St. Paul’s Cathedral for morning worship. Wow… I remember before one particular service even began, I read that they had been there to provide worship since 604 AD. It blew me away. For over 1,000 years people have been worshipping there, and it was OVER ONE THOUSAND YEARS later before we were even thought of as a country. The service was beautiful. The all-boys choir was just amazing and sang in Latin and Greek at different points. We got to take Communion, and it was so interesting to sit through a Church of England service.
7. My favorite memory was the last night we spent in London. We rode the London Eye.. and were able to point out almost everything in London. From St. Paul’s to Buckingham to Olympic Park to Covent Gardens and beyond, it was testament to how “a part” of London we had become. Overlooking the River Thames while the sun was setting behind Big Ben is forever glued into my memory and heart.
I literally could go on and on and on and on about everything we did in London. From visiting Windsor Castle, to the experience of our first Tube ride while reading the latest edition of the London Evening Standard, experiencing literally every museum in London (the Imperial War Museum being my favorite), the late nights in tea shops working on assignments, the random picnics in Bloomsbury Park, iceskating at Somerset House, visiting Shakespeare’s Globe, touring the Tower of London, Chinese New Year in Trafalgar Square, high tea at the Orangery… the list of experiences, sights, and sporadic adventures could literally make a novel.
However… the best part of the entire trip was how close all of us became who studied abroad together from MC. I barely knew the other 20+ students who boarded the plane to London with me on January 16th, but by mid-April when we came home, we had become a tight-knit, unique, and crazy close family. The inside jokes from long trips on the Coach with Paul, our Irish Coach driver, or the many laughs from embarrassing moments of being a foreigner at times… I became best friends with other MC students who had shared the same desire for adventure and something completely out of their element. For us, that was living for an entire semester in what I now consider to be the most beautiful city in the entire world.
If you’re a student interested in studying abroad, Mississippi College offers study abroad programs in countries ranging from Austria to England, Costa Rica to France, and from Germany to Spain. (You can follow along with this year’s London crew here as they post weekly photo updates!)We also offer tons of opportunities for mission work and summer study abroad opportunities, as well!
How do I even wrap up my experience studying abroad in England? Well.. as Oliver Wendall Holmes once said, “Our life, once stretched, never regains its original dimensions.”