by Nicolina Givin
Cheerio everyone! My name is Nicolina Givin and I am currently studying abroad in London, England at Royal Holloway University. It has been quite an unforgettable adventure. It has flipped my whole perspective of the British upside down. Everything isn’t fish and chips and teatime with the queen, contrary to what you might think. It has its own literature and culture. It is a completely different experience when you are living the way another culture does. The food, the language, and the way of living are so different than what you’re used to, sitting in your own home in America.
When I first arrived, I was amazed at the sight of my school. It’s the size of a castle that has a bell echoing through the campus every hour, shaking the school grounds. I was completely distraught and felt lost and alone with a major case of homesickness. But once I opened up to my flatmates (who are British) and learned where everything was and got more involved in the culture around me, it became my second home. The London tube system isn’t as easy to master as you think. Hearing “Mind the Gap” has become a ritual in the mornings. Getting lost in Piccadilly Circus and ending up in front of Buckingham Palace or walking through Hyde Park towards Knightsbridge to shop at Harrods are daily activities in London. Throwing coins in Trafalgar Square fountains and shopping down Regent Street are sunny weather ideals. The sun doesn’t actually seem to shine that frequently, but when it does, it’s considered a holiday. Leaving the city center, I’ve also ventured off to places such as Windsor, home of Windsor Castle; Oxford, home of Oxford University; Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare’s birthplace; and Stonehenge, a landscape of amazing rocks that no one can solve the origin of. Just visiting these places have given me a view of England that I never thought I’d see.
Apart from being an avid tea drinker and going off on adventures, schoolwork is heavily included in this experience, of course. I have seminars and lectures that give me an in-depth look at British literature and the impact it has on their society and the world around us. Being an English major, I have already taken a number of literature classes that have prepared me for the work that has been thrown my way in these classrooms.
Besides literature, my Contemporary Theory in Literary Debates class has talked about bigger topics such as Marxism, Freud, feminism, post colonialism, deconstruction and ideology and the relationship they hold with literature and the reader. These topics have given me a new perspective on literature in society and how we can analyze what lies
between the lines of texts. My Intensive Shakespeare class has had me analyze three of Shakespeare’s most treasured plays and focus on the keys themes that appear in the text. By analyzing these three plays, I have gained a better understanding of what Shakespeare might have been trying to say to his audience and how these themes reflect current issues in literature today. My last class, Sociology of Popular Music, has given me a major history lesson in music dating back to the 1800s all the way to today’s era. It’s amazing learning how another culture represents music. There are other international students in my class from all over the world, so hearing them talk about how they learn what music is and how they process it is something so unique and incredible.
Not only have I gotten the opportunity to explore England, but I’ve also traveled to other countries as well, such as Germany and Italy. Having this unforgettable opportunity has taught me so much and has given me access to the most incredible sights and places. From having Big Ben in my backyard to learning how English literature has changed the world, it’s amazing that I can call this place my second home.
Now all I need to do is find a way to meet the Queen.
Nicolina Givin has been spending the Spring 2013 semester studying abroad; she will be a senior English major this fall.