Theatre Arts Intensive, Summer II, 2016
I was fortunate enough to go to England in order to study LeCoq mask and movement training in a two-week faculty-led Theatre Arts Intensive. And I don’t use the term “intensive” lightly. We spent six hours a day on our feet exploring the teachings and principles of Jacques LeCoq mask and movement teachings that our teachers had spent two years putting into their bodies. These days were extremely physical as we learned about miming and clowning. As actors we have a tendency to rely on the emotions we express through our faces and words and it was a thrilling challenge not being able to rely on that and only using our bodies to tell the story.
In preparing to go to England I didn’t think there was going to be much of a culture shock, after all, we did speak the same language, but while most people spoke English their slang words really through me off. While at a tea room a friend of mine needed to throw something out so we asked if they had a trash can. The waitress appeared confused so we asked again and she said she didn’t know what that was. We were really confused because we knew a restaurant had to have one somewhere. It wasn’t until travelers at the next table helped us out and told us to ask for the rubbish bin that we understood this language barrier. It also surprised me to realize how far the American culture reached. They listened to most of the same music we did, while it also made me see how many of their artists we listened too that I didn’t even register as coming from another country.
One of my favorite things to do while traveling is trying all the local food. So I ate fish and chips, baggers and mash, and I drank tea the English way: with milk and two sugars. I was stunned to see how popular Indian food was over there, but when I took a second to think about it made sense with their history of colonization.
I think studying abroad helped me grow as a person above all else. Here at home, even though I live away from my parents, I am still very dependent on them for advice and help in everyday things, like scheduling a doctor’s appointments. But traveling to a different country not being able to communicate with them all the time forced me to have to really figure things out by myself. Even though our trip was faculty-led, they gave us the space we needed to explore on our own. I spent days in London doing everything I wanted to do and seeing what I wanted to see and figuring it all out on my own.
Life studying abroad was a lot more fast-paced than the life I live at home. I don’t really think that was because of the lifestyle people in England live, but rather the fact that I didn’t want to miss out on anything while I was there. I felt like I was in a constant state of “go” and it was hard to find the rest necessary to keep up with myself. But I found ways to adjust and found rest sitting awhile in the gorgeous parks and quaint tearooms they had over there. It really taught me to “stop and smell the roses.”
This was my second study abroad, having done a study abroad in high school as well, and both times I had an enriching experience that not only furthered my growth in my studies, but also furthered my growth as a person. There is nothing else like being fully immersed in another culture and I would not give up that experience.