About My Study Abroad Program
Major/Minor: Psychology/Social and Economic Justice
Program: UNC Honors Shakespeare in London and Oxford
Location: London and Oxford, England
Term: Summer 2019
Why did you choose to study abroad and how did you select your program?
I knew that Honors Carolina had many opportunities for me to experience different cultures and step out of my comfort zone while still earning credits towards my degree. I chose my program because I knew I would not be missing an entire semester of classes and wanted to try something I would never typically sign up for at UNC. Theatre has always been an interest of mine but because of my degree and future career path, I have never been involved in theatre at UNC. This was my opportunity to have an incredible educational experience about a topic a normally would not be exposed to. Additionally, studying Shakespeare's work in its birthplace seemed to be an authentic, one of a kind opportunity.
What did you learn about yourself?
I learned that I could be truly independent. Navigating, budgeting, and adapting to a different country without your typical support system could be difficult but I proved to myself that I could do it. I also learned how much I truly love to travel and meet new people. I could find common ground with nearly every person I spoke with. I was happy to learn how much I didn't know about the world and to talk to people who could teach me through their perspective. Finding this independence helped me greatly while I was abroad and I believe it will enhance the rest of my collegiate experience here at UNC.
What is one of your favorite memories from your program?
Watching, and eventually taking part in, A Midsummer Nights Dream at the Bridge Theatre in London. We stood in the pit and around multiple stages for the performance and were able to interact with the actors and become a part of the show. My friends and I made our West End debut dancing through the theatre before intermission to Beyonce's "Love on Top" with the actors (including Gwedolynn Christie from Game of Thrones). The experience was surreal. I was witnessing my favorite Shakespeare play at a beautiful theatre in London. The actors put on an incredible show with modern and extremely comical twists on the traditional script. We interacted with the production and laughed the night away. Along with so many others, that night will always stand out as something special.
What advice do you have for future study abroad students?
Connect with other students you are going abroad with. Odds are you will have so many of the same interests which will give you buddies to explore with. This could mean a weekend trip to another country or just finding a local bookstore to peruse after class. My best experiences were, in part, as great as they were because I shared them with my friends. Now that I am back at UNC, I am even more thankful I made such strong connections with the other students on my trip. Study abroad, especially a shorter summer program, can feel like a dream once you return. Staying close to the friends I made in England helps me keep my memories alive and cherish them even more. There are people here that had the same highs and lows as me over the summer and that made us closer than friends I have known for years.
Would you do it again?
Yes! I would do my program over again or try a new one. I loved the material and London.
How were your classes abroad different than if you would have taken them at UNC?
The program I participated in is one that I would never experience with the path I am on at UNC. I am a STEM major and take all classes that pertain to my major or minor. I simply do not have the time or need for English classes or anything to do with theatre. I loved English before coming to college and used to be involved in theatre. My program allowed me to dive back into those interests that I chose not to explore with my current school path while still getting the Carolina education and experience that I value.
How do you identify?
First Generation College Student, Scholarship Recipient, Rural County Resident
Could you share any experiences where your identity played a role in your time abroad?
Being from a rural county made my time in the city even more spectacular. It also made my conversations with people from London even more interesting. They loved to hear about rural life in the States while I enjoyed listening to their experiences growing up in the city. We were able to talk about the stereotypes of each and discuss what was so different about our lives and what ended up being quite similar.
Is there any advice you would give to other students who share your identity?
Be bold! It can be hard to step out of your comfort zone and talk to others but it is always rewarding. In my experience, everyone I spoke to was just as interested to speak to me and hear about my experiences as I was to hear theirs.
If you faced any challenges abroad, where could you turn to get the support you needed?
I had a wonderful program student assistant who lived with us for smaller challenges. If I came across a more demanding challenge, the Honors Carolina staff back here in the States as well as Stephanie, the Honors Carolina representative in London, were always available and offered wonderful guidance. I never felt that I was stuck in situation that no one could help me with.