Britain Study Abroad

January to May 2009

I've been fortunate enough to do a lot of traveling in my life, but I've always made my home somewhere in the Baltimore-Washington area in the state of Maryland. (This has been the subject of considerable teasing from my wife.) The one exception was the semester study abroad that I did in Britain during the spring of 2009. I needed to spend some time in London conducting the research for my doctoral dissertation, and that would require spending several months digging into the archives at the British Library. I was able to secure some funding from my graduate history department that mostly covered a semester living abroad, and they also helped pitch in by making me the teaching assistant for a short winterterm class taking place in Britain. In lieu of receiving a salary for being the teaching assistant on this brief three week class, my airfare to and from Britain would be covered as well as the living expenses for that period. I would have the chance to work in the archives during the day and then chaperone the students in the evening. After the class ended, I stayed for an additional three months in London at a student community named William Goodenough College to continue doing further research. No, seriously - it's really called Goodenough College, and it was indeed good enough for my purposes.

Living abroad for four months was a fantastic experience and an opportunity that I would encourage others to try if they have the means to do so. London is an incredible city, especially for a doctoral student studying British imperial history, and I tried to make the most of my time there by exploring the city as well as using it as a jumping off point for trips to other parts of Europe. I was limited here in two respects: the need to spend as much time as possible working in the archives for my dissertation, and the paucity of funds available to a graduate student. I wasn't making a dime off of this trip - quite the opposite as I was spending money to make it happen - and that restricted where I could go somewhat. Still, there are plenty of fun and exciting things to see and do on a limited budget, and I made the most of the time that I did have. (My only regret is not taking a short trip to see Stonehenge; that was easily doable and it was just something I didn't think about.)

Although the bulk of my time on this semester abroad was spent in the reading rooms of the British Library working on my laptop, through the magic of travel writing we can skip over that and cover all of the other fun stuff that took place. This is the story of my study abroad trip in Britain.

Study Abroad Teaching Assistant, Britain

William Goodenough College, London

Canterbury, England and the London Blizzard

Edinburgh, Scotland