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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Jon in London

Jon Call ’20, an Education and English Literature major, is studying in London at the University of Roehampton

My name is Jon Call and I’m studying abroad at the University of Roehampton in London. At Lake Forest College, I study English and Education, but at Roehampton I decided to take two creative writing classes and a Victorian Lit class to expand my knowledge of writing for my future as a high school English teacher. London is the perfect place for an English major. In such a massive city, every alley and building can possess a wonderful literary history, usually advertised with plaques and signs. While I relished in these experiences of literary history, seeing the graves of Tennyson and Charles Dickens and watching Henry V at the Shakespeare Globe, I was surprised to see the lack of appreciation for this history from the people around me. When I was in Westminster Abbey, tourists would walk over the graves at the Poet’s corner without a single pause to examine who was buried there. At the Globe, on the night of the final performance of Henry V, the house was empty. These experiences I had, where great authors and works of literature seemed to not be appreciated enough, reinforced my desire to be an English teacher and present my students with the literary history of the past. It pains me to think about a world where literature and art is discarded and not appreciated enough, much like the character John in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, being the only one reciting and connecting with the words of Shakespeare. I have learned how necessary teaching literature is to others, and hopefully I can make my future students appreciate and grow passionate about their favorite works and authors. Maybe one day, many years from now, I will return to the Globe theatre to see it packed with enthusiastic people excited to see a great play performed on such a legendary stage. I’ve been able to do all this thanks to William H. Toner, who aided in my ability to experience this city, this university, and every place that I have subsequently traveled to. This has been such an important experience for me, and I am so glad that I took this opportunity.