Monday, May 26, 2014

Study Abroad England - First Days

For ten years now, The Citadel English Department has run a summer in London program where cadets can earn core-class and upper-level credit while living in London for the summer.  Working with the non-profit Foundation for International Education, The Citadel’s Summer in London Program offers an opportunity to learn literature and history in the place where much of that subject matter occurred.  Students this semester are enrolled in either English 201, a required survey of English literature from the middle ages to the early eighteenth century, or the 400-level Literary Monsters class, which examines the continued fascination with such monsters as Dracula, Frankenstein’s creature, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Shakespeare’s Caliban. All students are also taking a course entitled Understanding Civilizations: Islam and the West, which can count as an upper-level History or Political Science course. Below are some of the students’ initial impressions of their first few days in London.

What I have really come to admire is the architecture, which fascinates me. I look down the street and see an amazing blend of old and new architecture from several centuries. It amazes me that somehow it works seeing Victorian-era buildings blend into modern 21st-century glass skyscrapers downtown. This serves to point out the age of Britain and highlight the youth of the US as seen through architecture; where the US starts at 1700, Britain has that easily beaten by hundreds of years. Another aspect of London that I have enjoyed is the vast green space across the city. Compared to US cities such as Philadelphia or New York that have 1 or 2 large parks, London has several large and many small ones that add an endearing charm to the city in a Mary Poppins-esque kind of way. Finally, the last part of my first impression of London is how huge and how diverse it is. I didn’t realize this until I looked at a map and saw that 6 major airports support the city, which is comprised of 32 boroughs with close to 300 languages spoken in it daily! 
-Lauren Seedor, Sophomore, Political Science major, Lima Company 

When I arrived here last week, I had a general idea what I was in for but I had no idea how much culture I would experience and how many sights I would see. Before I even got to London, I spoke with a Jewish woman on my flight who enlightened me about her Hebrew bible and about Jewish culture as well as Judaism in general. I was fascinated by this because I learned about Judaism in my World Religions course I took my senior year of high school and that course was one of the most interesting courses I’ve ever taken. After I arrived, I experienced how polite the citizens of central London are when I was trying to navigate my way around and had to ask them where the location was. While out one night, I met a really nice girl named Kayla from Camden. She was really interesting to talk to because she had the same interests as I do, and she explained her area and her experiences in London. She and I both play the alto saxophone, and her favorite genre of music is jazz, which is also one of my favorites. I also had fun talking to four Canadian girls in a pub, because they live near Nova Scotia which is where the Regimental Band and Pipes of The Citadel play in the Royal Military Tattoo every three or four years, and I was interested in asking them questions about what the area is like and how it will be when we go there my senior year. Meeting so many different people so far has been the most memorable part of my experience.
-Zach Gorman, Sophomore, Biology major, Band Company

Upon arriving in London, I felt very uneasy. Almost out of place. Being in an entirely different place was just so weird. I could barely even understand what people were saying despite speaking the same language. But one thing I find practical about London is the transportation. It’s very easy to navigate my way around, something I would not be able to do back home in Los Angeles. The transportation here is something Europeans definitely got right. One issue I have with London are the restaurants. The food here seems overpriced; the quality of the food is usually fair but the serving sizes are smaller than I am used to. Another issue I found with London is the crowdedness. I am a bit more used to crowds, being from a major city myself, but it is far more dense here than back home. But aside from the crowds and expensive food, I find London to be a great city filled with interesting history. Well, this place would be a whole lot better if there were free water.  
-Luke Tiscareno, Sophomore, Mathematics major, Tango Company

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