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Leicester — Fall 12

Vanessa Rueda
News Editor, The Retriever Weekly
Editor, UMBC Review

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For study abroad, I was undecided between Italy and England for possible destinations, but I wasn’t confident enough in my Italian to spend three months in an Italian city. So I chose DeMontfort University in Leicester, England, which I considered to be more appropriate to continue my study of English literature. Being lectured about English authors and literature by English professors was something I can only compare to listening to Aristotle lecture about philosophy. The English Literature program in DMU was more centralized than it is at UMBC, and I enjoyed attending class every day because the lectures were all about subjects I found interesting.

I gained many insights about English authors from different periods, and how they were seen when compared to American authors of the same period. From one of my courses in particular, Rewriting Film and Literature, I learned that there are many ways of adapting a book, including different mediums of adaptation besides movies. The final assignment for that class included writing an adaptation of a scene in Shakespeare’s King Lear. From that assignment, I learned how to take inspiration from canonical works to influence my own writing.

Going to England made me feel more appreciated as a human being. Meeting new people who appreciated who I was, how they appreciated the fact that, in identifying myself as American even though I was not born in the United States, I added an interesting layer to my personality. Because of the feeling of appreciation I felt from everyone I met, whether they were English or other international students like myself, I learned how to respect myself even more than I did before going to England.

Studying abroad is a daunting concept, and stressful up until the last second, until you are sitting on the tarmac waiting for the plane to take off. At the end of the process, when the plane that will take you back home is landing on United States soil, the difference in your character is noticeable to everyone except for yourself. You don’t know what the study abroad experience taught you until you’re back home and you are calmly dealing with something you wouldn’t have been able to deal with before, like finding a way to travel to another city without having someone driving you. After taking a train to another country, taking a train from Baltimore to D.C. seems like a cakewalk.

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