Study Abroad in Reading, Week 1

by · January 30, 2013

Mount Saint Mary College student Stephanie Weaver in England

Since I last posted on the Knight Life blog, I have been on some pretty exciting adventures. During my first week at the University of Reading, I attended a lecture on Shakespeare presented by Professor Andrew Gurr, a Shakespearean expert, and my first series of seminars for my Romantics to Decadents Nineteenth Century Poetry class. The class structure is extremely different from life at the Mount, but I am quickly growing accustomed to listening in lecture and speaking during seminar. I have joined the newspaper staff at Reading and will be writing for their travel section while in the UK. In order to begin constructing my first set of thesis papers, I’ve already maxed out on library books taken out in one week. Currently, I am reading Hamlet with a nice cup of tea as I sit to write to you all.

de Newburgh Stained Glass

This past week, I went to Oxford to visit two friends who are studying abroad at the University of Oxford. We walked through the city and I got to walk up the steps that Harry Potter walked up before he was sorted into Gryffindor. I also saw the two towers that inspired the construction of Tolkien’s second installment of the Lord of the Rings. To end the day, I sat in the corner of The Eagle and Child where Tolkien and Lewis discussed their masterpieces and had my first plate of fish and chips.

During my first full weekend in the UK, I saw Shakespeare’s grave and his first folio, published in 1623, while I was in Stratford Upon Avon. I also went to Warwick Castle and saw a first edition of David Copperfield while perusing through the vast rooms of the remarkable castle. I never realized how vast and beautiful the UK truly is.

Big Ben, London

Then I heard London calling, and I found my second home. The moment I stepped off the train at London Paddington Station, I finally realized I was in the United Kingdom. The Underground is extremely organized and, in the blink of an eye, I was standing on Westminster Bridge looking up at the Elizabeth Tower, which is the real name for Big Ben Tower. Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside the clock tower. I then took the same journey that Marlow took in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and journeyed across the majestic Thames River to the Tower of London. I learned how to work the tube and felt like royalty as I walked past Buckingham place.

This weekend, I’m off to Dublin to do some research on songs of the Irish Revival, go to the Irish Writers Centre, and spend an afternoon in Galway. I can’t wait to share my new adventures! Thanks for reading!


Stephanie Weaver, class of 2014, is an English major from Rockville Centre, NY. She will be spending her spring 2013 semester studying abroad – and blogging about her adventures – in Reading, England.