Looking back on a semester in London

Morgan Ewald

A group of Millikin University students spent last semester in London studying abroad. One of the students that studied abroad is junior, creative writing and theatre double major, Bryson Hoff. Hoff decided to go to London after hearing about the experience from people he had talked to in the past.

“Two of my brothers went on the trip last year,” Hoff said. “I really wanted to go just because of the opportunity. I’ve always wanted to go abroad, so why wouldn’t I?”

Many students who have gone on the semester abroad trip have had educationally and personally fulfilling experiences.

“I had a very incredible experience. It was the highlight of my career at Millikin. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to not go,” Hoff said.

When asked about one of the most interesting things he got to do on the trip, Hoff responded, “Getting to perform on the globe stage was really cool. That’s not something a lot of people can say. The other thing was that our adjunct professor sent us on an assignment to go and watch the Special Olympic broadcast. For the first week and a half that we were there, the Special Olympics were still going on.”

For a truly fulfilling experience, students have many travel opportunities while on the trip.

“As a class we took a number of daytrips,” Hoff said. “We visited Stratford-Upon-Avon and we saw two shows by the Royal Shakespeare Company. We went to Canterbury and saw the cathedral; we went to Bath and also to Stonehenge. I also did a fair amount of traveling outside of the classroom. It was mostly on my own. The only time I left the UK was a two-day trip to Barcelona. After the semester was over, I met my family in Ireland and spent a ten-day trip with them.”

Classes are set up differently while the students are in London. Classes meet Tuesday through Thursday, so students received the luxury of having a four-day weekend.

“I didn’t have too big a deal handling classes,” Hoff said. “I had a 4.0 GPA for the first time ever while in London. It made my advisor happy. We have longer classes to keep credit hours up. It didn’t feel like the classes were impeding on our visit time, but when we had papers due we had much longer to work on them.”

The theatre part of the trip allows the students to attend some theatre shows. “Just with the price that we paid to go on the trip, we were able to attend our Global Drama and Drama Lit. classes and discuss the shows we went to. We discussed how they were related to the culture of the United Kingdom. We went to at least one show a week for our classes,” Hoff said.

If dedicated enough, there were special opportunities to experience the theatrical culture of London. “I went to a show called, ‘The River,’ by the Royal Court Theatre,” Hoff said. “For this show, there were only a few complimentary tickets sold in advance. The rest of the tickets were sold the day of the show. I got up at 5:30 a.m. and stood in line with a friend at the box office. By 10 a.m. the line stretched around the block. Only 20-40 tickets were even being sold, so many people got turned away. It was a very special opportunity.”

As well as the students who spent a semester in London, some students choose to create their own study abroad trips. Sierra Goldberg, senior, BFA theatre design and production major, went to Wales this past semester for her trip. Goldberg attended the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

“It was cool. The London program doesn’t offer any design classes, and I wanted to learn a different style of theatre and art that I couldn’t do on the London trip,” she said. “The experience was fantastic. I was in an international flat. I met people from all over the world and a lot of art majors. I learned a lot about theatre, film and design. I learned a lot of things I never thought I would have. I met some friends in composition who had things performed, and I got to see their compositions performed.”

Goldberg ran into a little spot of luck with a special cultural opportunity, as well.

“The MA course was going to Liverpool, and one of the students couldn’t go, so I got to go. I found out the night before,” she said.

According to Hoff, “If studying abroad is something that you’re even remotely interested in, and if you could make work, I would suggest talking to the faculty and the people involved. Definitely get in touch with the faculty and see if it would be a good fit for you. I can’t suggest it highly enough.”