Placentia student relfects on semester abroad
Emily Nash spent three months studying at Harlow in the United Kingdom
When you’re a student of both history and English, spending a semester in England might be the best move you’d ever make.
It’s literary ties to the likes of William Shakespeare, Mary Shelley, George Orwell and J.K. Rowling, along with Buckingham Palace, the London Museum and Old Harlow make it a must-see destination for literature and history buffs alike.
For Placentia’s Emily Nash, it was that mixture that inspired her to enroll in Memorial University’s Literary London program offered at its Harlow campus in Harlow, Essex, U.K., from September to early December.
The 20-year-old is studying English and history at MUN and spent three months with 25 other students learning from the likes of Mary Walsh and Don Nichol.
Despite having the opportunity to study in a place that offers immersion in both of her primary areas of study, that was not Nash’s primary reason for studying abroad.
It was the opportunity to see other parts of the world.
“The travel is what drew me into it,” said Nash. “Everything is really accessible and everything seems much smaller.”
It’s true. Attending school at the Harlow campus allowed the group to plan trips to the rest of the United Kingdom and continental Europe. France and Germany are but a twohour flight away, while the likes of Italy, Belarus, Portugal and parts of the Ukraine take three hours to reach by air.
“We would have classes all week, get home on a Thursday morning at 1 a.m. and then get ready for a 4 a.m. flight because you were travelling somewhere,” said Nash.
During her three-month stay at Harlow, the Laval High School alumnus travelled to France, Hungary, Ireland, Belgium and Sweden. One of her personal highlights was a Nov. 11 trip to Beaumont Hamel in northern France.
It is the place forever linked to one of the darkest days in Newfoundland history. On July 1, 1916, some 324 members of the Newfoundland Regiment were either killed, missing or presumed dead during the Battle of the Somme. Another 386 were injured, while only 68 men answered roll call the next day.
“That was really humbling. To walk where they walked,” said Nash. There were regrets, however. “I would’ve liked to go to Italy though,” she said. “Two of my friends were heading there one weekend but I couldn’t go. I turned it down because I was going to a Counting Crows concert in Manchester.”
Nash is the daughter of Mark and Melissa Nash.
Finding a family
MUN is one of two Canadian universities with a strong place in the educational landscape of the United Kingdom.
When the 25 students head across the pond, they are the only ones who take up lodging at the residence on campus. If you’re going out to the local pub for an afterclass pint, some combination of those 25 people are the ones who will likely accompany you.
“They become your family,” said Nash. “You really come together because you have just those people.”
North River’s Kalysha Snow also attended Harlow at the same time.
It was not Nash’s first visit to England. She had previously travelled there with her high school and as recently as last summer with a friend.
“I knew what I was getting into,” said Nash. “I wasn’t as awestruck as some of the others.”
History in real life
While studying, there were countless field trips to various theatre houses and museums in London and abroad. Nash recounts seeing Shakespeare originals and the like at the British Library, amongst trips to the Eifel Tour and The Louvre museum in Paris.
She missed out on a tour of the Catacombs beneath the French city due to an excessively long line up.
“We went to a play at the (Shakespeare’s) Globe Theatre where we stood watching for three hours,” said Nash.
Emily Nash is shown here during a trip to Budapest, Hungary.
She saw Shakespeare’s The Two Gentleman of Verona in a space less than 800 feet from the spot of the original Globe Theatre, a space built by Shakespeare’s theatre company in 1599.
“A lot of it did not feel real until you come home and people are asking you questions about it,” said Nash. “It was surreal.”
She will return to MUN when classes resume for the winter semester this week. Now in her third year, Nash intends to complete an education degree and teach at the high school level.
Reflecting on the three months she spent at Harlow, Nash has a piece of advice for anyone thinking about taking the leap.
“Make sure you go with no expectations and an open mind,” she said.