Shakespeare’s Globe, Buckingham Palace, riding “the tube,” Jack the Ripper tour, learning the Charleston dance with Daisy Buchanon at the Gatsby mansion and seeing original Van Gogh’s and Monet’s. Works of art are a fraction of the things that the England Summer Study Abroad class got to partake in this summer throughout late May and early June. The class is a three week, cross-cultural engagement credit that is open to Northwestern students every two years. It is led by the theatre department, but any student is welcome to join! Eight NW students, 1 Hamline University student and two theatre professors, Dr. Bob Hubbard and Ethan Koerner, made up the trip. The trip consisted of a homestay with a British family for a few days, seeing over a dozen theatre shows, attending five art museums, hiking a mountain and touring countless cathedrals, exhibits and monuments. The students would meet for class every morning in the hostel they stayed at to talk about the art and theatre that they had seen the day before, and then a student would be in charge of previewing the show that they would see that night.
Rachel Smart, a senior Theatre, English and Secondary Education major, felt that the trip really opened her eyes to British culture. One of her favorite memories of the trip is spending time with her host mom Maureen and Maureen’s daughter, Becky, in Worcester, England. “Hanging out with actual Brits like Maureen and Becky really strengthened the cross-cultural aspect of the class for me” said Smart. Smart described that one night, after the Uvalde school shooting had happened in Texas. It was a poignant experience to talk through the differences and similarities in culture between America and Britain with Maureen and Becky. Smart realized how difficult things can bring people together across cultural boundaries, and feels as though she bonded with her host family over something that was happening in her home country.
Smart’s favorite part of the trip had to be seeing “Much Ado About Nothing” at Shakespeare’s Globe. The group had a front row seat to the magical action of Shakespeare’s timeless comedy, except they were standing in the groundling section right in front of the stage and got to interact with the cast. “Much Ado About Nothing “holds a special place in Smart’s heart because it is her favorite Shakespeare show. “Much Ado About Nothing’ is meaningful to me because it was the show that made me want to be an actress when I was in it in high school.” Getting to see her favorite show at one of the most famous theaters in the entire world was another stand out experience.
The group of students that went to London had a special bond throughout the entire trip in a way Dr. Hubbard hadn’t seen before, as he had led the trip three times previously.
“I got to spend three weeks in London with my best friends, making memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” Smart reflected.
The group of students got to try foods from all over the world, as well as authentic British food. Smart described that she didn’t love original British food like meat pies and beans on toast, but she did really enjoy their pastries, tea and scones. Her last day in Worcester before going to London, her host sister Becky invited Rachel over to her flat to make her a “full English breakfast.” This consists of hashbrowns, eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, beans, toast and tea. Afterwards, Becky made Rachel a Victoria Sponge Cake to take with her on the bus to eat as they traveled to London.
The next year for NW’s England Summer Study Abroad is 2024. All students from any department are welcome to join this amazing experience where you will create memories that will last a lifetime. It is a fun and adventurous way to receive your Cross-Cultural Engagement credit.