Friday, August 20, 2021
Rebecca Lara

This summer, I decided to embark on an adventure by studying abroad- but virtually! Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all my classes from the past school year were held online. What I didn't expect out of the unique school year was to be inclined to participate in the virtual study abroad course Shakespeare's England. When I first arrived at the University of Iowa, I stumbled upon a study abroad info booth. As a first-generation student, I didn't know much about the program, and my curiosity led me to speak to one of the students. The instant they explained the amazing opportunities and destinations, I was hooked! I made it my goal from that day on to study abroad when the chance arose. Fast forward to this summer; I was able to fulfill that goal. Although the class structure looked a bit different from what I imagined, I cherished the beauty of being able to take an exciting course from the comfort of my own home in Iowa.

"Although the class structure looked a bit different from what I imagined, I cherished the beauty of being able to take an exciting course from the comfort of my own home in Iowa."

Professor Greteman's enthusiasm for teaching and learning was contagious. Professor Greteman structured the classroom in an inviting manner that made logging onto class an enjoyable part of my day. The cherry on top was how engaged and ready my classmates were to collaborate on ideas and themes as we dove deep into Shakespeare's works. In addition, I also got to explore London from an outsider's perspective. Our professor, who had once lived in the bustling city, and our guest speakers such as Dr. Will Tosh, a Lecturer and Research Fellow at Shakespeare's Globe, did their best to help us imagine London's scenery and theater spaces. I have never traveled to Europe, so learning fun facts about the country's culture, mapping out Shakespeare's hometown of Stratford- Upon- Avon, and viewing video tours of the Shakespeare’s Globe Theater was intriguing. I learned about social class structures, popular entertainment during the 17th century, and overall livelihood from Shakespearean times.

The course taught me, that despite unexpected changes, there is always a silver lining. I was surprised I was able to explore England from the comfort of my home while getting a taste of new experiences such as getting a tour of Shakespeare's Globe, working on a fun and creative final project, and making connections with other students despite the distance. The experience made me realize that although circumstances may change, it’s the lasting memories that matter the most.

In the end, my expectations were exceeded. The professor, guest speakers, and classmates were all very kind and as inclined to Shakespeare's works as I was, which made it very engaging and enjoyable. I was hesitant to embark on a virtual study abroad course but am glad that I pushed myself to try something new. I encourage any student who is interested in studying abroad to take on the adventure!

Rebecca Lara, a Diversity Ambassador Scholarship recipient, participated in Shakespeare's England during the summer of 2021.

Learn how you can apply for a Diversity Ambassador Scholarship

The Diversity Ambassador Scholarship program provides awards to study abroad for a summer, a semester, or academic year program. The scholarships are intended to support the diversification of students who study abroad. Upon completion of the study abroad program and return to UI, award recipients are asked to submit a photo and an open letter to prospective students for use on our diversity web pages or suggest an alternate means of sharing with prospective students. Open letters are especially helpful as they reach the broadest audience. All Diversity Ambassadors will be invited to share their experiences abroad with prospective students from underrepresented groups on campus through outreach events.

Up to ten (10), $1,000 Diversity Ambassador Scholarships will be awarded for the Spring and Fall semesters/Academic Year; up to ten (10), $1,000 Diversity Ambassador Scholarships will be awarded for Summer and Winter sessions.