The best thing I ever did for my Bradley education was get away from Peoria for the entire fall 2010 semester. Studying abroad is something that every student who has the capability and interest should seriously look into, as it is an opportunity that will likely never come around again in your lifetime. The four months I spent in London was easily the most memorable educational experience I have ever had, along with an eye-opening cultural adventure.
Though registration for the May study abroad programs is over, the department’s website says there are still spaces available to go to Sydney and Madrid. Even though I would recommend an entire semester abroad, I realize that’s not feasible for many, and these shorter programs likely provide a similar experience, if only for a few weeks.
While I undoubtedly would have enjoyed Dr. Craig’s Shakespeare course, I will never forget seeing “Henry IV, Part 2” while standing in the rain at the Globe Theatre, or leaving “Romeo and Juliet” at The Roundhouse to a suddenly snow-covered north London.
Visiting Kensington Palace (the home of Princess Diana) for a creative writing class trumps nearly any inspiration I would receive sitting in my St. James apartment.
But there was far more to do outside of class, and that may be the most rewarding part of all. I learned how to heckle at Speakers’ Corner, took a boat ride along the Thames and learned to eat meat pies while drinking some quality English beer. I traveled to Paris one weekend with about half of our group and went to the top of the Eiffel Tower at 11 p.m., where it was bitterly cold.
Studying abroad requires a commitment to caring about your work, as it’s really easily to get distracted, especially if you’re in a big city like I was. But if you believe you can handle all of it, it can be the most wonderful time of your life.
Of course, not everything went according to plan. Though I was supposed to leave on Dec. 18, a sudden snowstorm shut down Heathrow Airport, stopping all departures. Although there was only about four inches of snow on the ground, London rarely gets much, so the airport wasn’t prepared to deal with it. I ended up not leaving London until Christmas morning, and I arrived home in St. Louis at around 8:30 that evening.
Even with this weeklong delay of departure, I have no complaints about my study abroad experience, and would easily do it again. Experiencing the world and a fairly different culture for four months was an incredibly rewarding time, and I urge anyone considering studying abroad, whether for just a few weeks or the entire semester, to visit the study abroad website (studyabroad.bradley.edu) and look into the opportunities available.
This is the one time in most peoples’ lives they’ll be able to spend an extended amount of time overseas. If you’re interested, don’t let the opportunity get away.