This past spring I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to London and study at the London Dramatic Academy (LDA) for the semester. This program was a main component of why I chose Catholic University in the first place. LDA was a conservatory training program, which gave me hands on, focused training. The academics were challenging but riveting. I was blessed to live in the gorgeous neighborhood of Kensington, which was only a few short Tube stops away from the most popular London attractions and a two minute walk to campus. It was also only a few blocks from Kensington Palace where William and Kate have their apartment. It’s a pretty posh place. It’s true there were times when I noticed how American I was, but I wouldn’t have lived anywhere else if you paid me. Living there gave me a lovely combination of familial calm London and easy access to the bustling downtown. I even saw Prince Harry in my grocery store once! Yes, he is as handsome in person.
I grew up watching BBC specials and British movies, and it was a dream come true to be able to integrate myself into British culture. I went to pubs and tried my best to pick up as much of the British slang as was natural. Being in Europe I took advantage of everything that was available to me. I explored odd neighborhoods of London, saw many shows on the West End, and traveled every time my studies allowed me to. I spent weekends in Paris and Amsterdam and traveled Italy during spring break. I can now say that I have been to six European countries.
Though I could rave about my individual experiences for some time, I have struggled to find some way to convey the magnitude of my overall endeavors abroad. I think I truly realized how much I had learned when I returned to the United States. Directly out of the program I landed a difficult internship that pushed me in many new ways. However, I noticed that since my return from the UK I had a newfound sense of self and independence. Living in a new and foreign country, I was forced to adjust and learn about how I conducted myself outside of my comfort zone. Having no new territory to throw me off at home, I realized that during my time away I had grown tremendously both as a student and person. I found that I could work harder than I ever thought possible and find pure joy in my toils. I discovered that I can thrive in difficult situations and maneuver new territories easily. Going abroad increased my awareness of both myself and the world. It is difficult to convey in words, for I am still discovering new ways in which those four months influenced me. Essentially, I trained and toiled for a craft I loved and left with a new appreciation of how I can make an impact on myself, my community, and my profession. Four months abroad changed me permanently, for the better, I believe.
– Eleanor Tynan