Oberlin-in-London Blogs

The crumpetiest city
››› August 23, 2011 | Posted By Hannah Combe '13
Hello everyone! Or, as I will inevitably learn to use commonly once I travel over to old blighty, Cheerio, chums! My name is Hannah Combe and I will be a junior at Oberlin College this year, travelling to London with Oberlin's Danenberg Oberlin-in-London Program in the spring of 2012. I will (if I can submit my subsequent blog entries a bit more promptly than this one) keep this blog throughout the fall semester as I prepare to go abroad second semester, and then continue blogging once I am abroad.

A little bit about me: I am a rare Oberlin student who is actually from Ohio; I live approximately two hours south (via car) from Oberlin, in the charming hamlet of Granville, where, as I constantly mention in order to orient people within the Ohio college network, is where Denison University...er, exists. My parents are both professors of English there (what a shocker that I am currently an English major) and were totally responsible for sending not just me, but also my brother (older by five years) and my sister (older by two years) to Oberlin.

I am an athlete at Oberlin--I play on the varsity soccer team in the fall. I am intrigued as to how I will function in London with potentially restricted exercise opportunities (outside of massive amounts of the many cheese-rollings and bog snorkelings [both real activities] that I anticipate my own avid participation). Really, I am dependent on exercise for my physical, mental, emotional, and academic health. We will see how I can orchestrate that for myself. I am not sure of the general British opinion on exercising lasses...

Here at Oberlin I am invested in my English major (and, hopefully, other people's as well), the soccer team, the writing center, and, after this fall, furthering my art education. I love the study of literatures and cultures, analyzing and interpreting and applying texts and theory. When I applied to be an English major, I had to write a brief statement (as I am sure other applicants did as well, ha) of why I wanted to be an English major. Quoting myself: "I've learned (and am thankfully still learning) from my parents that while being 'swept up in a story' is pleasant and entertaining, reading as an active participant in the narrative yields far more interesting questions and prompts further investigation into the text as a cultural product. I want to focus on active engagement with literature, and increase my experience and therefore my skill in critically analyzing texts." This statement, written during my freshman year, still applies today. I think the forms of critical thought, analytical approach, and challenging concepts that the study of English presents to me are invaluable in my evolution as a worthwhile human being. Which is kind of the point of education, it seems to me. To be a thoughtful, kind, and engaged neighbor, citizen, friend, and lover.

It makes sense, then, that I would be rather excited about the opportunity to study English with an Oberlin professor about whom I have heard only rave reviews, in LONDON. London, basically the coolest, hippest, crumpetiest city in the world. I was already certain that I wanted to spend a semester abroad when I first began to consider the Oberlin-in-London program. I think by my sixth semester at Oberlin, I will be more than ready to have a break from campus and the Oberlin culture (as much as I love it) in order to explore other educational and cultural realms (though I would be foolish to claim that I am going to England to have some kind of culture shock experience). While I was certain that I did want to go abroad, however, I had heard from many people who had gone abroad that they experienced a significant drop-off in the rigor and depth of their education for that time abroad, which is something that I think not many Oberlin students are interested in or, really, able to afford doing. Therefore, the fact that the Oberlin-in-London program was, quite literally, Oberlin in London was extremely appealing to me. I want to live in another country, and travel and learn about that place, but I do not want to majorly disrupt my path of study at Oberlin. It seemed that this program could not have been more perfect for my abroad plans. I set my sights on this program, and honestly I did not consider or pursue other options (and I will here state that I refrain from suggesting or bashing that route--it is a purely personal and case-by-case kind of decision to make. Oddly, I applied only to Oberlin, early decision, when I was looking at college(s). I wonder when the hand of fate, waggling the fingers of luck, will no longer be on my side with these single-minded pursuits of mine...).

So, I am obviously and nerdily very much looking forward to the classes that I will be taking in London, which will be: Modernism, The London Stage, and the History of London. I cannot wait to see many, many plays, as well as walk the many streets and alleys of London, learning about that ancient city's extensive history (maybe I could become a taxi driver after learning the entire city...). I also look forward to traveling around other parts of the United Kingdom (Scotland, Wales, Ireland) and then onto the mainland to putz around in Europe as well. That kind of inter-country travel is not as common (or as possible, convenient, or culturally relevant) in the United States as it is in Europe, and I anticipate frequenting trains, ferries, buses, and the Chunnel as often as possible. I am also just looking forward to getting to know other Oberlin students in a totally away-from-campus setting. From what I can gather, my peers in this program are all outstanding and interesting people, and I cannot wait to get to know them better. The same goes for both Professor David Walker and Professor Marc Blecher.

Before I gush anymore about what I am excited about I think I will end my post here. It will be, really, about five months until this blog gets really awesome. But I trust that whoever is reading it will have the endless patience to wait for the good stuff. Because it's freaking Oberlin in freaking London, so it's all going to get good.

Responses To This Entry:

It won't be hard to get exercise in London, Hannah. You could probably even join a women's soccer ("football") team if you wanted--there are lots of university and amateur clubs around.

Posted by: David on August 24, 2011 4:33 PM

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