From: Burton, Michigan
Majors: English & History
Jennifer traveled to Canada during the 2011 summer. She studies at University of Waterloo in Stratford, Canada. Here is a reflection of her experience:
As part of the honors program, I was required to study abroad. This past summer I traveled to Stratford, Ontario, Canada, where I completed a course entitled Shakespeare in Performance through the University of Waterloo. In this course we studied four Shakespearean texts before watching the plays put on by Stratford actors. Afterward, we discussed the plays as a class.
The Stratford Festival Shakespeare in Performance course is very similar to a course UM Flint students would take in a lecture/discussion driven class. We discussed the texts before and after watching the plays and completed papers or short dramatic interpretations for a grade.
Which experience had the most impact on your personally?
I liked meeting new people. It was interesting to turn the mirror on myself and see how other people viewed Americans. I also enjoyed watching the plays very much. The actors were phenomenal and really clarified the text and brought it to life.
What were your expectations of the trip? How did your experience differ from your expectations?
The trip was more stressful than I thought. It was difficult to communicate with the University of Waterloo, and I was bounced around from person to person. Setting up the trip was more difficult than I anticipated, but once I arrived in Canada and the course was underway, everything was fine.
What was the biggest difference in culture that you experienced while a abroad?
The most difficult thing to contend with was the fact that I was American. You have to personally face the stereotypes other countries superimpose on you. For instance, a young man in my class blatantly told me that all Americans are fat and stupid, even though I am of average build and received the highest marks in class. As a representative of the United States, you try to present your country well, but it's very hard to disprove stereotypes in the minds of others because they transcend reason. Even faced with obvious counter evidence, the stereotypes persist.
What surprised you the most about your time abroad?
I was very surprised at how friendly most of the people were. In Flint, a lot of people don't talk to each other, but in Canada, if I needed anything I could just ask and someone would point me in the right direction.
How has this experience changed you?
I enjoyed myself very much, but it made me appreciate being home in the States and, especially, not living out of a suitcase.
Would you recommend this program to other students?
Yes, I would recommend this program to other students interested in theater or English studies. The course is built around the study of theater and Shakespeare, and it provides an excellent opportunity for analytical study of those two subjects.