An English Major Abroad: The Truth in Travel
By: Molly Cameron
“Traveling- it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” -Ibn Battuta
As an English major, when you make the decision to study abroad, the obvious choice is England. It’s the birthplace of the Modern English language, and it is home to some amazing historical landmarks like Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and the resting place of professor J.R.R. Tolkien. As great as all of that history sounds, in the months leading up to my departure I was a little upset that I had chosen to go to England instead of somewhere more exotic. In many ways, England is incredibly similar to America; we share a language, we have similar food, and both of our cultures are decidedly first world and westernized. I was convinced that my time in the UK would be almost exactly the same as a normal year at WIU, and to some degree I felt that because of my major I was being cheated out of the international experience that other students had during their time abroad.
After being here for nearly a month, my world has been completely turned upside down. I am now friends with people from England, Korea, Poland, Greece, Mexico, and even the remote land of North Dakota. I have a friend who speaks six languages because she thought it would be cool. I am constantly surrounded by more varied and colorful culture than I have ever seen in my entire life, and I never could have prepared myself for it. When I sit down and think about all of the international students that I have met during my short time at Edge Hill University, I realize that all of these students have something in common. They may be here studying different things, they may come from different backgrounds, and they may all want to do something different with their lives, but the one thing that they have in common is the fact that the English language has given them opportunity. Some countries require students to learn English as a second language at a young age, other students have taken it upon themselves to learn the language, but they all have done it with a purpose. When I find myself feeling like a lazy person because I only know one language, they always tell me that it doesn’t matter; I already speak the language that is important.
The English language, much like America, is a melting pot of different cultures and dialects. Sometimes it may feel like English-speaking nations don’t have much of a culture of our own, but I believe that that is because we embrace all cultures. English is a language of diversity, and to study English is to study history and traditions from all over the world through literary art. I decided to travel because it is an incredible opportunity to see the world and become connected to it in a way that staying in Illinois would never allow me to. I didn’t know it until now, but I decided to study English literature for the same reason.