Twenty Fresno State students spent three weeks in London, England, to study abroad and learn about the British Empire for class credit this past winter intersession.
The class fulfilled an upper-division general education course for students and was an opportunity to experience a different country and receive credit toward their majors.
Senior Maddie Hittle, who is studying communicative disorders, said the opportunity to study abroad is a once in a lifetime experience.
“It was a perfect place to visit for my first adventure outside the United States,” Hittle said. “My favorite part was having the opportunity to learn about a new culture and experience first hand.”
Megi Hakobjanyan, a sophomore studying political science, who has had already experienced travels outside of the United States said London was more than she thought it would be.
“There was a sense of power and rich history ruling over the city, and it was both intimidating and breathtaking,” Hakobjanyan said.
The course included many group activities in which the students traveled by boat and bus to surrounding areas and explored many museums and galleries that exhibited the British Empire.
Hakobjanyan said she took an interest in the Tower of London because it gave her various insights into the British Empire and the Crown Jewels that are now housed there.
“Seeing the Crown Jewels was fascinating, because it raised mixed feelings,” Hakobjanyan said. “One can’t help but be amazed by the beauty. However, at the same time, you think about the controversy that surrounds those diamonds that were taken from India and Africa.”
Student Zach Bohny, who is in his last year studying Art, said he found a new appreciation for another culture and the museum’s enriching history of artworks.
“The quality of the artwork, concepts and history behind the works was of a different caliber, compared to what [I] see locally,” Bohny said. “It was amazing to see original artworks done by master artists.”
Many of the group events that were put together by Fresno State art professor Nick Potter were based on culture, empire, art and his own experiences of growing up in London.
“[Potter] let each of us formulate our own experience in London,” Hakobjanyan said. “He trusted us and instead of dictating every minute of every day, he gave suggestions as to what we wanted to do.”
Hakobjanyan felt Potter gave many options, she said, because all the students had different interests and wanted to get as much as they could from the program.
The students arrived back into the United States with two days to prep for their 2013 spring semester and brought back a London experience to share.
“I have grown as a person and witnessed that the world is a lot bigger than Fresno, California,” Hittle said.