Cheers to the London Studies Program: Students share their experiences

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Trips across the English countryside plus top-notch theatre performances and fish and chips galore: the London Studies Program has it all. In its 11th consecutive year, the program is the only semester-long study abroad program that UMHB offers, and for good reason: UMHB invests every dollar they receive from the participating students back into the program itself.
Dr. David Holcomb has been the director of the London Studies Program since its inception in 2007. In choosing the location, Dr. Holcomb said, “London is a fantastic place for study abroad to begin with. It’s rich with history and culture. It’s a great place for multicultural and international study, so you’re getting exposed to lots of different types of people. And, you’re not having the same struggles with language you would have in other places.”
Although British people speak English just like Americans, it is not to say that there are no struggles with language or culture.
“Talking on the tube is weird,” said sophomore pre-med and biology major Kristopher Hurst about the London Underground transit system. “I can always spot American groups on the tube because they’re just loud.”
The differences in culture led students on this trip to learn a lot about the world around them
and about themselves.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself socially since we’ve been living in an apartment with 12 girls,” sophomore audio art major Bronwyn Taff said. “I’ve definitely developed another layer of empathy.”
Twenty-eight students have accompanied their professors to London this last semester, and have lived together, studied together, and traveled to other countries together.
“The 28 of us have grown so much closer, and I didn’t think I would be this close to people after 3 months,” Hurst said. “I never thought I’d have friends from Hardin-Simmons or Howard Payne, but we’re such good friends now.”
Being in a group of such a small size for three months is a unique environment for most of these students. Hurst learned more about opening up through his new friendships.
“I’ve really learned that being vulnerable with people is good. I want that to be a staple of my personality; I want to be vulnerable and make a community of vulnerability with others.”
Dr. Holcomb hopes for positive changes in the students he sends overseas.
“I have seen students who have a narrow and provincial view of the world, who after spending a semester [in London], really become more sensitive to the world and want to become world citizens, and have a little more appreciation for other cultures,” he said. According to Hurst, his endeavor was successful.
“I’m not stuck in what I have to believe. I realized my views have changed on certain issues because I’m not so focused on retaining my Texan identity,” Hurst said. Taff concurred.
“Studying abroad has taught me about so many situations outside of small town Texas that I never thought about. It’s given me a different perspective.”
Hurst also mentioned an issue that being in London has brought to his attention.
“Homelessness is such a big issue in London, it’s become more of an issue on my heart than it used to be.”
The students agree that explaining their semester will be a unique challenge. “You can’t understand what it’s like, unless you come and do this yourself,” Taff said.
Hurst agreed with this.
“It has been hard, but one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.”
For more information on the London Studies Program, visit https://go.umhb.edu/academics/studyabroad/london-studies-program or speak with Dr. Holcomb.

Author: Tori Van Hooser

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