by Lauren Schuster, Social Media Editor
While most Manhattan College students were taking some much needed time off during winter break, some students instead decided to be part of a unique educational experience by signing up for winter intersession study abroad trips. This winter break, more than 10 different courses were offered in six different cities around the world as a part of this program.
One of these courses was a 200-level English class called “Literary London” which was taught by Brian Chalk, Ph.D. in London, England.
“It’s a two week sprint through English literature, and my intention was for every work to represent to the students a different form of London,” Chalk said. “Like New York, sort of, but maybe even more so, London presents so many different versions of itself to readers.”
The best way to get to know these many versions of London, Chalk finds, is to get out into the city and see what the authors saw.
“Our main text was London itself, and I tried to never lose sight of that,” Chalk said.
Senior Kaiyun Chen, one of 11 students who went on the London trip with Chalk, found the experience to be unforgettable in a number of ways.
“Taking a class abroad, you can actually experience the way that that the writers wrote,” Chen said. “Not just what they wrote about, but sometimes the mindset that they had while writing. When you’re there, you can actually experience what they’re talking about.”
Another memorable part of the trip for Chen was the bond that was formed between everyone over the course of the two weeks they spent together.
“Everyone was just so different that when you come together, everyone has something to contribute to the group,” Chen said. “Two weeks was really good for bonding time and you’re all going together to experience something new.”
Chalk agreed that an especially unique part of teaching study abroad courses is getting to know the students on a more relaxed and personal level.
“I like it because it necessarily lowers the formality of the student-teacher relationship [because] everybody’s guard is a little bit more down,” Chalk said. “We’re living in the same place, we’re eating together, and everybody is dealing with fatigue sometimes, but also just the thrill of spending a Tuesday afternoon walking through Westminster Abbey. I’m experiencing the same sort of astonishment that the students are and it’s wonderful.”
Junior Miguel Diaz took a 200-level English class called “Food and Literature” with Emmett Ryan, Ph.D. in Barcelona, Spain.
“The best moment on the trip was an excursion that we did which was a complete farm to table cooking class,” Diaz said. “We went to a farm in the countryside where we picked ingredients, prepared them, cooked them all together in front of a huge open flame in front of a house from the 1600s, then finally ate our meal all together that we worked so hard to create with each person having their own task to complete. That was the excursion that really brought us together and I will always remember the amazing time that I had doing that.”
Chalk, Chen and Diaz all agreed that the worst part of winter study abroad trips is having to come home so soon.
“Really the only con I can think of is that sometimes, especially the winter break study abroad, they’re just too short,” Diaz said. “You really fall in love with these places and don’t want to leave.”