Junior Haley Stevens shares her experiences in London as part of her study abroad program.
Photo by Anton Zemba.
After spending a term at Lawrence University’s
London Center campus, junior Haley Stevens wishes that Lawrentians could attend
our campus across the pond for more than one term abroad. An avid theatergoer
and thespian herself, Stevens had glowing reviews for the theater and arts
scene around London, and encouraged everyone to experience Lawrence’s offerings
in London for themselves.
The center offers classes which cater to many
interests, and Stevens capitalized on her interest in theater through taking a
fringe theater class which explored the experimental theatre, both contemporary
and historical, of London. Stevens had a good deal of expertise around the
Fringe theater, including where it got its origins.
“A lot of the experimental theater was on the
fringes of London because there was a lot of censorship up until mostly the
1950s and ‘60s, so a lot of them were a little bit underground or were like a
club with membership so they could avoid censorship […]it goes back to
Shakespeare and why Shakespeare was on the other side of the river with the
Globe Theatre: because of censorship and having to be outside of the city,”
Along with Fringe Theater, Stevens took Urban Anthropology
of London and British Life and Culture, and spent time as well at an internship
with a theater company in North London. While classes met two days a week for
two hours, Stevens also took the tube to her internship where she gained
experience in arts administration, which entailed working in the box office,
designing posters and call boards and even serving as a lighting operator for a
Overall, Stevens felt that adjusting to the
London Center rhythm was quite easy. Luckily for her, the group of fellow
Lawrentians she shared an apartment with were all acquaintances already, making
the experience of apartment living a positive learning experience. Because the
London center does not have a meal plan, the group initially made a co-op
arrangement to buy food which eventually had to be adjusted to suit allergies
and dietary needs. A luxurious service of free cleaning and fresh sheets from a
cleaner once a week added a hotel-like aspect to their living conditions.
Adjusting to life back on campus, however, has
proven to be another story. After joking that she most missed being served
biscuits during class breaks by her professors in London, Stevens relayed the
reasons that returning from London can be difficult. “I really loved London and
so I think I had more of a culture shock coming back from London than actually
going to London. I think mostly because it was such a big city, so there was so
much to do and so many things to explore every second,” Stevens explained.
She added, “With the Fringe theater class, we saw
one show a week, but then because of my internship and just because of myself
being half-theater major […] I’d see one to three or four shows a week the
whole time I was there for 10 weeks. So I think that’s another part of coming
back—the culture shock of not seeing as much theater has been like, ‘What do I
do with my time?’”
Stevens also praised London’s safe atmosphere and
fondly remembered midnight walks in the city, less of a likely proposition here
along College Avenue. “There’s cities that sleep and cities that don’t,” she
said, “and I feel like London is a sleeper. There’s still noise and people out
and about but it’s very calm at nighttime. It’s the safest place I think I’ve
ever been.” Because of the friendly environment and thriving arts scene,
Stevens said, “I felt really inspired and I also got a lot of writing done.
It’s the best place for arts, theater, writing, music—basically everything I’m
interested in. So it was a very good choice on my part.”
Though being back in Appleton may not be as
entertaining as living in London, Stevens has retained the inspiration she
gained while abroad and plans to pay it forward.
As a recipient of the Gilman International
Scholarship, Stevens’s travels were funded on the condition that she produce
work on how her time in London affected her. Fitting for the experiences she
had, Stevens plans to write and produce a short ten to fifteen minute play
about studying abroad. With plans to perform during the second Saturday of
spring term, Stevens is hoping to set up auditions before the end of ninth week
of winter term so rehearsals can begin.
Stevens explained further the details of her project, saying,
“Rehearsal would start probably the end of ninth week or the weekend of, and
there would just be a few of them to divvy things up because it’s sketch style,
just a bunch of different scenes exploring different topics about studying
abroad […] and what it means. So I’m working with the study abroad office to
get advertisements out soon, but I’m still in the revision process for the
script.” Anyone interested in performing for or viewing Stevens’s show should
be sure to keep a lookout for posters with information coming soon!