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Student Realizes Dream With London Trip

Last Updated on October 01, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Originally published October 01, 2018

By Laura M. Navarro

Junior, History

It always was my dream to visit London, England, to see such iconic landmarks as Big Ben, the London Eye Ferris wheel and London Bridge. I am a junior history major who had never gone outside the country, not even to Juárez, Mexico.

Laura M. Navarro
Laura M. Navarro

When I got an email about the London Experience, I was excited but realistic. I could not afford the trip, but I applied anyway. To my surprise, my application was accepted. With the help of my family and the money I had in my savings, I was able to afford a plane ticket and the extra costs of the trip. A truly memorable and exciting opportunity awaited me.

I enrolled in an online creative writing course as part of the study abroad. My classmates and I would get a basic prompt from Blackboard about our writing assignments, but we could choose the method such as prose, poetry or a journal entry. This freedom enhanced my creativity and, with the new environment, inspired my writing.

Another twist was that the program assigned one of its graduate students to serve as a mentor to an undergraduate. This was new to me. It was like working one-on-one with a teaching assistant except I was their only student. The direct feedback was helpful.

My abilities to work well with others at UTEP, and to communicate effectively helped prepare me for my two weeks in London, June 6-20. As president of the student organization A.R.I.S.E. (Academic Revival of Indigenous Studies and Education), I have worked with students and faculty to plan events. My communication skills were helpful when we had to navigate our way around London, especially when we got lost and needed directions. My people skills also helped me deal with my roommates, who became great friends.

I remember my first encounter with the London Eye. I was on my way to a theater, and I saw the giant Ferris wheel shrouded behind buildings. As we got closer, its size was breathtaking.I needed to compose myself because it was simply amazing. I felt the same emotion when I saw the River Thames, London Bridge and Big Ben.

To be clear, we were not always tourists. Our instructors planned several academic group activities such as attending different plays around London. For example, we saw “Hamlet” at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Speaking of Shakespeare, we visited his home and his burial place in Stratford, which is a beautiful town. We saw ducks and swans swim in and walk along the banks of the River Avon. We also stopped by Canterbury, where we had afternoon tea and took a tour around Canterbury Cathedral. It was amazing to be around such historic cities.I particularly enjoyed the cathedral’s beautiful interior and exterior designs, especially the stained-glass windows.

This experience proved to me that I was adaptable from the time change to the weather. I am more confident in my abilities to manage change in unfamiliar environments and my communication skills.

Read about more Vocation Vacations experiences.