Written by Dana Lyons ’17
Studying away to the United Kingdom was an amazing experience. During our three weeks, our class visited many historical sites in England , Scotland, and Wales. Before the trip I did not know much about these places, nor did I know much about Shakespeare. Since this was a Shakespeare course, the class read a few of his plays beforehand to help prepare us for the trip. One of the places we visited in England was Stratford-Upon-Avon. Here is where Shakespeare grew up and started his life. Our class was able to visit Shakespeare’s birth place, where we learned about his early life before he became a playwright. In Stratford-Upon-Avon, the class was also able to visit Shakespeare’s school and learn about how the school system was different during his time compared to today. It was really neat to actually sit where Shakespeare would have sat while he was in school. Being able to visit these places really put Shakespeare’s lifestyle into perspective for me. Seeing where he came from and what life was like for him, made me understand Shakespeare’s plays more by allowing me to understand his logic and reasoning as to why he did some of the things he did. His plays were a way for him to escape society and where he could make society and his life any way he envisioned.
During the trip, the class also visited many battle grounds and churches that were home to many grave sites. Seeing this also made me realize that the history was real and I was really was amazed by what I saw. Being able to travel and visit these historical places provided a much better understanding of what life was during Shakespeare’s time that would not have been learned in a classroom. It was really and amazing experience.
Our last visit on the trip was to Brighton, England. Here is where the class was able to connect Shakespeare’s play The Tempest to real life. Brighton had a beautiful pier that reaches into the Atlantic Ocean, and the class was able to connect the beginning scene in the play to Brighton because that is where Shakespeare envisioned the shipwreck take place. In Brighton, the class was able to tour a beautiful palace that was very unique during the time. The palace belonged to King George IV. The palace was unique because of the décor, it was decorated with a Chinese and Indian décor which was unusual during the time.
Overall, the trip provided a much better in depth understanding of Shakespeare’s world than I thought was possible. I was very surprised by how many places and activities the class was able to see and experience. It was a very active trip as well because we did a lot more walking and climbing of hills and mountains than I was imagining. But it was a wonderful experience overall and I am glad I was able to learn so much during a three week course. I highly encourage any student who can participate in a study abroad program because the experience is one that will always be remembered and the amount of information that can be gained as incredible!