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Natalie Zielinski - English Literature in London

Published: Wednesday, 29 Nov 2017
Author: Cheryl Ann Benner
Department: Office for Education Abroad

Name: Natalie Zielinski

Status: Senior

Major: Elementary Education

Hometown: Milford, MI

Program: English Literature in London, London, UK, 2017

Studying abroad in London was hands-down one of the greatest experiences of my life. Living in a bustling, diverse, and historically beautiful city for five weeks made me a better communicator and a more responsible student. I was blessed to not only have the opportunity of being immersed in my favorite content, but to truly walk in the footsteps of some of the greatest authors and playwrights of our time.

Our classes were enriching and truly unlike any class I've taken. I had taken a Readings in Shakespeare class at MSU and had absolutely loved it; when studying abroad, we not only got to study Shakespeare, we got to see it! Professor Johnsen got us all tickets to see Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe Theatre, complete with a private tour and the opportunity to meet and talk with one of the actors during our class session. While many people see historical literature as dry and hard to understand, my classes abroad truly added a layer of depth and magic to my learning since we got to visit places that the authors lived, wrote about, and worked. Professor Johnsen's way of leading class discussion, as well as visits from guests, made me think about how I would want to teach English in my future classroom. I want my students to fall in love with literature and to be engaged in the history and stories behind each text. Studying abroad opened my eyes to how important it is to make learning interactive and memorable for students, just like my experiences in London that I can't stop talking about!      

An amazing thing about Europe is the ease of traveling from one country to another. One of my best friends attended the study abroad program with me and we traveled together to Paris, Ireland, and Capri on our weekends. Traveling to other countries definitely put us outside of our comfort zone as we struggled to find directions and communicate across language barriers. We learned how to be patient with ourselves and with others in frustrating situations while simultaneously exploring the beauty of the Parisian streets, the mystical Cliffs of Moher, and the breathtaking view of the ocean on the coast of Capri. Each country and city has its own personality to dive into and embrace, and exploring these different cultures was an incredible experience.

While living in another country can sound intimidating or scary, London was so welcoming and thrilling that I never felt homesick. Within a three minute walk from our flats we were standing on Waterloo Bridge, overlooking the breathtaking London skyline on one side and jaw-dropping Big Ben on the other. Whether it was the fast paced hustle and bustle of the morning commute or the sounds of music and laughter drifting out of the English street pubs at night, I always felt like I was a part of the city. There truly are not enough words to capture how much I love London and the amazing historical appreciation that resides among the residents. Londoners take pride in their rich history; it is amazing how much you can learn in simple conversations with waiters, tour guides, and taxi drivers! Everyone wants you to be a part of their city and to appreciate the unique atmosphere as much as they do.

It took me three years to gather up the courage and resources to consider and attend a study abroad program, and I am so lucky that I had the opportunity to study abroad before graduating from MSU. Even if you feel like it is too expensive, challenging, or different for you, don't be afraid to try something new and step out of your comfort zone. My weeks in London were worth every struggle and fear that I had applying for this program; I loved every second of being abroad, and you will too.