By Mackenzie Bath
This summer I took my Pioneering outside of the LC community and decided to go abroad alone. Despite having so many overseas programs to choose from, I could not see myself leaving Lewis & Clark for an entire semester. I asked around about other alternatives and found the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). They have over 200 programs in over 40 countries, and LC has pre-approved their programs for credit. This was the perfect opportunity for me. Not only did I want to spend all eight semesters in Portland, I wanted to be in London without the LC community: I felt that I might be inhibited by going with people I knew. It is important to me to meet new people throughout my life and to always be open to new experiences. I felt that the most effective way to do that was to go on a trip where I knew no one else.
We lived in apartments called Chapter, which are buildings located all around London reserved for student living. We were surrounded by students of all ages from all over the world, who had just started studying or had been there for several months. This range of experience was very helpful to have at our disposal. As many of the students on my trip were from the US, this was an opportunity to see more students from around the world. The apartments were small, but I did not spend a lot of time in them. Our roommates were picked based on a questionnaire similar to the one I filled out for LC Housing, and I ended up with a fantastic roommate from China.
In my month-long trip, I had one class Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. This was always followed by the whole class immediately going to the bar across the street for lunch. The class I took was called “Politics of Religion,” two of the most heated subjects weaved into one class led by a mild mannered British lecturer. CIEE classes are all taught by lecturers from the country you are in. Like LC, most professors have students call them by their first names. In terms of rigor, I would liken this class to a 200 level course at LC. We had projects, papers and daily readings. One of the most exciting parts of this class was having the opportunity to go out into the surrounding area. We visited Westminster Abbey, Shri Swaminarayan Mandir (the first authentic Hindu Temple in Britain) and an area of London mostly inhabited by different religious minorities throughout the city’s history. Learning all of this from our lecturer and official London tour guides was a beautiful experience. It felt outside of anything I had ever done.
The flip side to that feeling is that I no longer have anyone to share this trip with. In my English capstone class, there are a few students who went to London on the LC trip together last year. We have many of the same experiences, like going to Canterbury, the Globe Theatre and Shakespeare’s birthplace, but there is a separation. Still, I will always hold my abroad experience close to my heart, knowing that I am connected to people all over the world from a single month spent together. I would not change what I did, because it allowed me to experience all four years at LC and go to another country. Taking risks is important, and going somewhere new by yourself is different from going on an LC abroad trip. It can be as a replacement or a supplement, and is a great option for those whose courseloads do not allow them a semester to go to another country. If you can go abroad for even a month on a trip like mine, you will never regret it.