Arts & Sciences, Engineering

Lessons from London 

Marquette’s J-Session offers short study abroad classes that provide rewarding cultural experiences and lifelong memories

Last January, Emily Schultz, a senior majoring in writing-intensive English, spent two weeks in London, attending plays, exploring the city and learning more about herself than she ever expected. Although she traveled with students in her J-Session class, she chose to explore the city by herself, accomplishing a lifelong dream of seeing the British royal residences at Buckingham and Kensington palaces. 

“I didn’t expect this trip to change my life as much as it did, but I came out of it more independent,” Schultz says. “I expected to explore with my class most of the trip, but I ended up going solo. From this experience, I became more confident in myself and learned to be more independent.” 

J-Session is a special, four-week academic session that lets undergraduates take one class during the break between fall and spring semesters, including options for students who want a short-term study abroad experience. All courses are specifically designed to offer a semester of material in compressed period — it’s an intense but rewarding study experience. 

London is one of several study abroad locations offered through J-Session. Students earn three credits for Global Literatures while learning from London’s theater scene. They experience two to three theater tours, including the Globe Theater and National Theater and see several plays in London’s West End. In past years, they’ve seen a diverse range of plays from Shakespeare’s Othello and Henry V to more modern plays such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Orlando. 

Students touring the Globe Theater.

“The plays become our curriculum as we discuss them the next day in class,” says Dr. Tyler Farrell, associate professor of English. “Our discussions in class are filled with insights and ideas about how this play can speak to us in the real world.” 

The students show deep admiration for the lessons learned in this class no matter their previous experience with the theater. 

“This class introduced me to the art form of theater in a way I’d never seen before,” says Bill Beck, a senior in the Opus College of Engineering. “I had not attended many plays before this class, but with the exposure and Dr. Farrell’s insight, I began to truly appreciate theater.” 

A cultural experience 

J-Session provides a unique opportunity to learn firsthand about a new culture. 

Students don’t just learn about the theater; they have time during the day to explore attractions like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye.  

“By seeing cultural differences and similarities abroad, I was able to understand my place in a global community better,” Beck says. “This sort of insight is impossible to achieve without travel opportunities such as this.” 

Studying abroad can be a truly enriching experience, creating new and unique educational opportunities. It’s a chance for students to expand their cultural awareness and enhance their personal growth.  

“My major takeaway from this trip was to be an active participant in life. While on this trip I made the most of each day and always did my best to get out and explore,” Beck says. “What I realized was that I should live this way wherever I am regardless of travel as there are wonderful experiences to be had wherever I am.”