During the summer between my sophomore and junior years at Wheaton, I studied abroad as a part of the Wheaton in England program. After two weeks of intensive study on Wheaton's campus, I travelled with my group to England for six weeks. Although the work load was surprisingly heavy, I would return to England with the program in a heartbeat.
My first week and a half was spent in London. My mornings consisted of visiting sites associated with various British authors and poets, including personal homes, estates, theaters, libraries, and museums. Afternoons were free for city exploration, while nights usually included dinner and a theater production. Some of the productions I was able to attend included Shakespeare's MacBeth at the Globe theater, the ballet Swan Lake at Royal Albert Hall, and Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap - the longest continuously running play in London.
For the next three and a half weeks I studied at St. Anne's College, one of the 38 colleges of Oxford University. I took concentrated courses on the life and works of William Shakespeare, 18th C. Romanticism, and the literature of Oxford. I attended classes and chapel in the mornings, ate in the dining hall for meals, and explored downtown Oxford in the evenings and on the weekends. One weekend I was able to do some personal traveling to Scotland with some of the members of my group, which was one of the highlights of my entire trip. The additional week of the program consisted of excursions to other areas of the country including Tintagel, Salisbury, and Wales in the south, and Lake Windermere in the northern Lake District.
During my trip I discovered how important context and background are in analyzing literature, reinforcing my love for the simultaneous comparison of history and literature. Knowing the history of an area allows the images and plot of a work to come alive, and having the opportunity to see for myself each place described in the works I was studying was truly amazing. The trip also brought to life many of the historical events I had studied in courses offered through the History Department. On one walking history tour of London I happened to stop in front of a monument. Imagine my excitement when I realized that it was a memorial for the British soldiers who fought in the Boer War in southern Africa at the turn of the 20th C. For Dr. Weber's African History course the previous year, I had done extensive research on the war, and had written a term paper based on the personal letters of a Norwegian missionary living in southern Africa at the outbreak of the second stage of the war (1899-1902). I was thrilled at the connection, and to this day I relish that special moment in my trip.
Written by Holly Moore (Class of 2012), Fall 2011