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From left, Rachel Cape ’18, KiLee Fortier ’18, Jason Adams ’17, Jenna O'Connor ’16, Prof. Rosanne Denhard, Brett Belcastro ’17, Sean Konkol ’17 and Alice Fristrom ’18 in Cambridge, England.

Students Experience Life in England

05/11/16

For KiLee Fortier ’18 of Northbridge, Mass., and Jason Adams ’17 of Carmel, N.Y., there was no better way to learn about England than to live it as they traveled across the pond in March with four other students and English professor Dr. Rosanne Denhard.

Highlights of Denhard’s “Arts of Medieval and Renaissance Britain” class’s time in London included visits to the National Portrait Gallery, Westminster Abbey, and a day at the Tower of London – which they traveled to via the Thames “River Bus.” They also danced with locals at a traditional English ceilidh, a social event with Scottish or Irish folk music and singing, traditional dancing and storytelling.

According to Denhard, the trip provided a great active learning experience for the group of mostly novice travelers.

“England truly was an incredible experience,” said Fortier (pictured right, with Adams). “Traveling with a small group of fellow students really gave all of us the opportunity to bond and to get to know each other – not only as scholars, but as people. 

She continued, “Everywhere we went there was something from the past that took my breath away, whether it was an old portrait or a replica Viking ship.”

The highlight of the trip for Fortier was the opportunity to see Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, which was performed in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, part of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The Playhouse is a representation of an early 17th-century indoor theatre, and was built according to archaeological and historical evidence.

According to Fortier, seeing the play the way it originally was intended to be experienced was “breathtaking.”

“I will remember that performance for the rest of my life,” she said. Despite having seen Broadway productions in New York City, “I have never experienced a play done so well. The performers were incredibly talented and really strived to get the audience involved in the show while maintaining character, which was hilarious to watch, and really made for an intimate experience.”

Like Fortier, Adams plans to one day teach history. The trip marked the first time he’d ventured outside of the United States.

“It is an amazing thing to be able to actually do research in person rather than through pictures or books,” Adams said. “As a future educator, I know how valuable it is to be able to see or experience things firsthand, since that can really help you comprehend what you're learning about.”

The city of York, Adams explained, featured numerous historic structures, and was filled with English culture.

“The York Minster Cathedral was one of the most amazing architectural creations that I had ever seen, from the stone work to the windows,” Adams said.

The students also enjoyed English cuisine.

“I ordered my very first fish and chips meal,” Adams said. “It was fantastic, along with just about every meal we had while there. I think my favorite meal was a food stand in York where I got a ‘hot dog’ – essentially a sausage – which was covered in cheese, onions and ketchup. It really made me question why people say the food is so bland and bad in England.”

Fortier agreed: “Everything I tried was delicious.” She said other students should take a travel study course.

“It is an experience that you can only get by participating in a course such as this one,” Fortier explained. “It was so worth it, money-wise and time-wise, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I cannot rave enough about my time and experience throughout the course, and hope others continue to participate in travel courses. The things that can be learned are endless.”