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September 20, 2007

Graduate student shares experiences in ULM's British Studies Program

University of Louisiana at Monroe graduate student Brent Tippen credits ULM's British Studies Program with giving him "the experience of a lifetime" last summer.

Tippen, a communication major, provided the following excerpt:

"This summer I had the opportunity to study abroad in Europe for one month, through the British Studies Program [at the University of Louisiana at Monroe]. I am a ULM graduate student studying communication, and I am expecting to graduate this December. I am also currently employed full time by U.S. Senator David Vitter.

ULM is a consortium member of the British Studies Program and allows students like myself to participate for school credit. Other ULM graduate students that attended the British Studies Program this summer were Adam Hanks, Jeda Hays and Jamie Hanks.

Three of us (Jeda Hays, Jamie Hanks, and I) had the opportunity to study Intercultural Communication, where we compared British communication experiences to American communication experiences; . . . Adam Hanks studied International Business. The Intercultural Communication course involved lectures in the Houses of Parliament, the British Library, and the University College of London on different dialects of the English language used in the United Kingdom. We also had experiences at the Comedy Store and the East Street Market in London on humor and communication. Another lecture series that we participated in included a trip to Oxford University as well as Stratford-upon-Avon (home of William Shakespeare) for different uses of language in British communication.

Later, we departed for Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland, to visit the English Speaking Union, Nil by Mouth Organization, the Legal Courts of Edinburgh—as well as lectures by the Rangers Football Club. These lectures and observations involved the concept of sectarianism, the separation and violence between Catholics and Protestants. We also visited a Rangers Football game in Glasgow, Scotland to observe first hand this concept of sectarianism.

Our class also visited places like the British Museum to study communication in ancient civilizations and the beginning of written language. We then attended a lecture by Dr. Robert Hinde, world-renowned author, at Cambridge University on biology and culture. The lectures in the Houses of Parliament in London, the Rangers Football game in Scotland, and the visits to Oxford and Cambridge Universities were my favorite experiences dealing with this class. I feel like it allowed me to learn a great deal about how British academics and politicians operate in their communication circles. These experiences have allowed me to understand the importance of education and have helped me grow as a person in general.

Several long weekends and a mini-break allowed students to travel outside of the United Kingdom to observe firsthand different parts of Europe and to broaden our experiences . . . was able to visit Venice, Italy; Paris, France; and Barcelona, Spain. I liked Barcelona the best because you have a city and a beach right in the same town. It was clean, the people were nice, and there was so much to do. I also liked the fact that it was a non-English speaking city [that] allowed me to experience a completely different culture than my own.

We were able to visit historical sites in Paris such as the Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Avenue des Champs-Élysées, the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame, [the] Montmartre cathedral, Moulin Rouge and much more. I took French courses all through elementary, high school and most of my undergraduate school. I was able to use the language to navigate through France and try to communicate with French people in general conversation.

Jamie Hanks and Jeda Hays accompanied me to Venice, Italy, for a long weekend break from our class. We were able to visit St. Mark's Basilica, the Venice Bell Tower, Guggenheim Art Museum, the Venetian Coast that meets the Adriatic Sea and the Rialto Bridge. We were also able to ride the water bus to navigate through the water streets of Venice and indulged in original Italian foods, gelato and fine wines. Now this is what I expected graduate school to be about.

We also had the opportunity to visit Barcelona, Spain. The Mediterranean Sea provided beautiful rocky-sand beaches with crystal clear water. The diverse crowds of people flooded the beach, leaving little room to walk. Tourists from all over the world were in Barcelona for 'holiday.' We visited the world-famous Las Ramblas, which is the main street in Barcelona, where street performers, artists and cafés lined the roads. I also visited Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, which is a cathedral that has been being built for over 200 years. This construction was very different than anything I have ever seen. I have always heard about it, but I was able to see it first hand in Barcelona.

The British Studies Program at ULM was a great experience for me as a graduate student. This . . . provided international experience that will help me succeed educationally, professionally, but most of all as an American citizen . . . We had great experiences inside and outside of the classroom which provided us with hands-on intercultural experience that will enhance our academic credentials for the future."

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