My London Experience

As part of this semester’s study abroad program, I asked the 25 Carolina students to identify and write up a memorable London experience. Having given them the nearly impossible task of picking just one experience to memorialize, it’s only fair that I do the same in my last blog post from London.

My choice for my London experience? The time I got to spend with this group of talented, motivated, creative, funny, amazing students. I realize that my choice isn’t a single experience per the assignment, but as the instructor I can get away with it. Here they are outside UNC’s Winston House in London:

A short blog post cannot begin to capture the range of these students’ interests and pursuits. In addition to my criminal justice class, which I chronicled in previous blog posts, the students studied journalism, politics and economics, art, literature, theatre, and music. As part of the Honors Carolina study abroad program, they also devoted 18 to 20 hours per week to internships of their choosing. One internship supervisor concluded her evaluation of the student’s work with this pithy observation: “Thank you UNC-Chapel Hill.”

Given their class and work schedules, you might conclude that the students would not have had the time or energy to do other things. It’s more fitting to say what didn’t the students do! Just in and around London, they participated in Brexit rallies, hiked the white cliffs of England’s coast, went on Black history walks, watched the Royal Ballet perform, cheered on the U.S. soccer team in person against England (we didn’t do so well), joined the bidders at a Sotheby’s auction (but didn’t bid, I hope), took in music, plays, festivals, and art, visited castles and palaces, roamed the English heaths and moors, explored the world of British baking, even learned how to make macaroons.

This study abroad program engenders so much sharing of experiences that it fosters a unique togetherness. It was a joy and privilege to join these remarkable students for their semester-long adventure.

I want to end with a few acknowledgements. No program as complicated as a study abroad program, particularly an honors program, could run successfully without the assistance of many, many people. In addition to the hard work of the folks at Honors Carolina in Chapel Hill, UNC’s London-based staff provided incomparable support to the students, the adjunct faculty who taught other classes in the program, and this first-time faculty director. Thank you, Stephanie Berke and Olivia Ingram.

Last but not least, for those who read my posts these past few months, thank you. By the time this last one appears, I will be back in Chapel Hill. I look forward to working with you as I resume my regular responsibilities at the School of Government.

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