As a UNC Greensboro School of Education Global Ambassador and recipient of the Smiley Award, Hannah Ward, who will graduate in May 2024, spent part of the summer living and learning in London, England. During her time with the program, Hannah was able to enhance her educational experience while exploring the United Kingdom.
Upon her return, Hannah shared how her time abroad will impact her in her future classroom and led to a love of travel.
Hello! My name is Hannah Ward, and I recently studied abroad in London, England with the Literary London faculty-led program. To begin describing my experiences in London fills me with both joy and sadness. This program means a lot to me and is one of the most influential experiences of my entire education at UNCG. I am sad that the program has concluded, but thrilled I can share my experiences so that other students can see what it is like to study abroad, and will hopefully be inspired to do so themselves.
As an English, secondary education student, I didn’t think I would ever study abroad. Education is such an amazing field of study and is something I have wanted to pursue since I was little. However, our program can be very challenging, and our packed schedules mean that semester-abroad experiences are difficult to plan. I had always considered traveling somewhere on my own someday, but the thought of doing so was a bit frightening since I had never been anywhere outside of the U.S. before. However, the Education and English departments, and the Honors College at UNCG, helped make my far-off wishes of traveling become a reality. The helpfulness of my advisors at UNCG and the generosity of the departments gave me the support I needed to go abroad.
My experience is somewhat different than other students because I did not travel alone for an entire semester. Instead, I went on a summer program with a group from the English department. This experience was perfect for me because it allowed me the opportunity to be independent studying abroad while still having classes that would count toward my degree and the support of others around me. I cannot think of a better way to travel for someone who may be apprehensive about studying abroad, or even worried about how to fit the experience into their graduation plans.
One of the most exciting things about traveling to London was how much literary history the city holds. As a future teacher, I love getting to learn more about literary history so I can someday incorporate that knowledge into my lesson plans for my students. I saw multiple Shakespeare plays at the Globe Theatre, walked through the houses and museums dedicated to influential authors, and conducted my own research on how the literary history of London impacts the literary works produced within the city over time. (When people describe the program as a walk through the history of London, they mean a walk! I got to explore almost the entire city on foot in order to see every inch of its history.) When I teach my future students, I hope I can inspire them to travel and discover a love of literature and history through detailing my experiences.
In addition, I enjoyed that my program gave me the freedom to travel. Outside of classes and mandatory visits within the city, our group was free to explore nearby places on weekends during the program. I visited Edinburgh, Scotland and Bath, England to see some of the historical and literary sites including Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle, and the Jane Austen Center. While classes and required visits in London were the purpose of the program, our assignments were all about exploring and experiencing as much as possible during the month abroad. Our professors assigned journals about our experiences and final papers that connected places we explored to literature we studied. They even offered credit for assignments written about other places we explored on our own! The hands-on nature of the course made the assignments even more exciting, and has given me some new ideas for assignments in my future classroom.
The opportunity to study abroad is something I am incredibly grateful for, and I am thankful for the support of the School of Education in making this possible. Going abroad has inspired what I hope to be a life-long love of travel, and even helped me make the decision to travel on a church mission to Canada this summer as well! I also hope to visit London again soon! After all, When one is tired of London, one is tired of life! (Paraphrased from Samuel Johnson) I advise every student, no matter their program, to go abroad if they can. Look for support, plan the experience, have the time of your life, and return to tell others about it. You won’t regret it!