I spent a semester abroad
in Toulouse, France. This was an incredible experience that not only taught me
about French language and culture but about myself as an independent person. I
absolutely loved both the structured activities and the ability to discover
things on my own.
My course, "The
Victorian Metropolis," is an ideal course for students of History,
English, Women's and Gender Studies, and the humanities in general. Students in
these areas can all benefit hugely from study abroad, as international programs
allow them to see human experiences through a variety of different lenses. In
an English-speaking location like the UK, students might expect a lot of
similarities with US cultures because of the shared language, but they will be
surprised to learn about the many differences. The interesting layers of
history in the UK -- from Roman roads through remnants of World War II bomb
shelters -- provide students with a different experience of history -- and
especially urban history -- than they get in Colorado.
How can I not be inspired
by London? It was almost impossible to limit my course to a three-week
Maymester because of the hundreds of possibilities for studying Victorian
history in London. The Victorians simply jump out at you when you walk down the
street! London has such an incredible range of museums, architecture, art,
parks, and traditions rooted in the nineteenth century, and the fact that 2012
is the bicentenary celebration of Charles Dickens's birth makes it that much
more exciting to visit now. I am so eager to share my love of the city with
I don't think there is
any one thing I could say is the most interesting. I have traveled to London
over a dozen times and have stayed in a wide variety of locations: Bloomsbury,
Islington, Tufnell Park, Hampstead, Cricklewood, and Ealing. Some of these
areas are very chic; others are not. Some have large immigrant populations;
some do not. Some feel touristy; others let me experience the city as more of
an inhabitant. I think what is most interesting is how vastly different these
areas are, yet they all define what London is.
So maybe this is not the
best thing to share: I was at a shoe store on a very hot summer day on a
research trip. I put my computer bag down, and the next thing I knew, I saw
someone walking out of the store with it. I put on my shoes and started running
after him. This was at one of the busiest intersections in London: Oxford Road
and Tottenham Court Road. I ran like crazy through this enormous intersection,
screaming "he's got my bag! he's got my bag!" Here's the weird -- and
pleasant -- part: all these people came running out of a pub and chased the
guy. They didn't get him, but they got my bag and saved my research! I couldn't
believe that in the middle of London all these guys would put down their pints to
This is a tough one.
Neal's Yard Dairy cheese is the bomb. We get some at Whole Foods, but it's
nothing like what you get at the actual cheese shop in Covent Garden. The best
part is that you can go into the shop and taste tons of cheese before purchasing.
The people who work there are incredibly generous with their tastes. The other
thing to be sure to eat in London is Indian food. And the sandwiches at Pret a
Manger are great and cheap. Why can't we do prepared sandwiches that are that
Look to your left to
cross the street. I can't emphasize that enough!
This is an
interdisciplinary class focused on Victorian London -- being able to be in the
city and see it through history, art, literature, engineering, food, etc. is
incredibly exciting. Studying Victorian London provides a terrific window to
understand many of the key themes in 19th-century British culture: urbanization,
industrialization, wealth and poverty, women's rights, political change,
imperialism. London was the hub not just of Britain but of the British Empire,
and the Victorians saw themselves as being at the center of the world. The city
reflects that sense of greatness in so many ways, but it also teaches about the
people who were excluded from this vision.
I expect that students
who take this course will come to appreciate the rich history and culture of
London. Because they will undertake individual research projects, they will be
able to really delve into something of particular interest to them and to
understand London through that interest. I think that is really exciting.