Literature majors are always reading. We are assigned a book, a short story, or a play, and we dive in hoping to unlock the secrets to the universe … or at least get a decent grade. We develop a mental picture as we read, and we might even read a little background quip about the writer. But, when the opportunity avails itself to step into the world of the writer – to see where they lived, to walk the streets they walked, and to really learn their history – it unlocks a whole new dimension in our understanding of a given writer or piece.
While we were in London and were taking a walk through Dickens’s old neighborhood and we learned just how much of his surroundings he used in his various works, it honestly made his characters and his novels come to life that much more. Suddenly Dickens wasn’t just this famous author from long ago; instead, he was fleshed out and he became more real as a person, and as a writer. Being there enhanced my understanding of subjects and brought additional dimension to the literary picture.
On a personal level, as an online/distance learner, studying abroad allowed me to connect with the university more, as well as the other students in the program. I found it to be a very rewarding and enriching experience.