Christian Gamboa

I was so paranoid about arriving alone in London that I memorized the Google street view images from Regents Park Station to Schafer House dormitory.

After I got to my “flat,” I felt the greatest sense of victory; I had traveled safely through the city. I was ready for London: ready for tea and crumpets, ready to find my Mr. Darcy (for all you Jane Austen fans) and ready to go to the pub on the corner to drink some British beer. But then I remembered why I had even gone to London—I had class in the morning.

“London and Its Literature” was the name of the class I was taking at the University College London, which was to be taught by UTSA professor Dr. Mark Bayer. Class was held Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m., and about four times a week after class we would meet at a location that was relevant to the material we were studying.

For example, we discussed John Keats’ odes, including “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” so after class we visited the British Museum. The British Museum is where the Elgin Marbles are housed, and John Keats stood in front of them nearly 200 years ago and was inspired to write “Ode on a Grecian Urn.”

Another day we covered Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” in class, and early the next morning we made the pilgrimage (via train, not horseback) from London to Canterbury.

Just as the characters in “The Canterbury Tales” did, each student told a tale on the train, which he or she had written the night before in the voice of an assigned character from the book.

When we arrived in Canterbury, we explored the small picturesque town and visited Canterbury Cathedral, which is the destination set in the story.

The class was a British literature enthusiast’s dream. Studying in London gave the class a visual perspective of the British literature that several of us had previously read in our literature classes at UTSA. If I had planned a trip to London myself, I’m sure that I wouldn’t have seen as many plays, museums or literary sites.

Not only did studying abroad enrich my education, but it gave me the experience of living in a foreign country: I went grocery shopping, I went to the bank, I took the train to get to where I needed to be and I washed my laundry every week.

I’m now back at UTSA and since my return I’ve heard people mention Shakespeare, Buckingham Palace, Kevin Spacey, and the London riots.

I want desperately to tell them that I spent a day in Shakespeare’s house, had tea and scones at Buckingham Palace, saw Kevin Spacey play Richard III at the theatre and witnessed rioters walk through my street.

If I never move out of Texas, I will always remember that short, but exhilarating life that I had while studying in England.

 

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