Professor accompanies student to England to continue studies

Amber Hall

Big Ben is culturally recognized around the world.

It stands on the north-eastern end of the House of Parliament building, where famous diplomats such as Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher passed by the structure daily. Even J.M Barrie envisioned Peter Pan and Wendy flying past Big Ben on their way to Neverland.

For Kerenza Frame, junior sociology and psychology major, this historic site is less than a tube-ride away.

“History is everywhere in London,” Frame said. “Almost any area you go to there is a museum or national monument. It’s a city that has many sites to see and things to do, definitely not doable in a semester’s worth time.”

Indeed, London is the largest city in the European Union, and it has the highest number of major attractions in all of Britain. For one Missouri Southern teacher and student, this place is temporarily called home. Frame and Dr. Vickie Roettger, professor of biology, are currently abroad as part of the Missouri London Program.

“I have always been fascinated by English History, especially the time period from 400-1600 A.D.,” Roettger said. “I have been to England twice before which only wet my appetite for an extended visit.”

The Missouri London Program is a semester-long study abroad and internship opportunity at Imperial College in London. With the program, students are given the chance to experience college in London, while teachers are given the opportunity to travel abroad.

“It’s an incredible opportunity to spend all semester abroad in one of the most exciting cities,” said Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies.” Classes are interesting and there’s always an opportunity for exploration.”

“For spring break, I went to Italy for a week and traveled through Rome and then some smaller towns,” Frame said. “It was a very interesting experience because I do not speak Italian at all, but just seeing how the culture lived was amazing. I’m going to Paris and Ireland within the next month, so I’m sure I will be exposed to more culturally diverse experiences.”

London currently has 7.5 million inhabitants. Both Frame and Roettger had to make some adjustments when moving to London.

“One challenge I guess has been dinner time,” Roettger said. “Dinner is not usually served until late. The custom is to drop by the neighborhood pub after work and then go to dinner. This means not eating until 8 p.m. or later which puts bedtime later. I am a morning person, so getting up after a late night is a challenge for me.”

Frame said her conflict is with the cost.

“I am so used to being able to grab a bite to eat at Wendy’s or McDonald’s, but here everything is very expensive, so eating out really isn’t an option,” she said. “I find myself cooking dinners more; however you cannot buy a couple weeks worth of food due to the lack of preservatives.”

As part of the Missouri London Program, faculty members are required to teach a course at Imperial College.

“I am teaching a class on evolution and one called “Gist of your Genome” which teaches genetics to people without a background in science,” Roettger said. “In addition, all faculty in program team-teach class called ‘British Life and Culture.’ “

Students involved in the Missouri London program are also required to take British Life and Culture in addition to their other courses.

“All the students take this class which combines history, sociology, economics, politics, humanities and justice system in one class to give the students an overview of the United Kingdom. This class consists of lectures once a week and then a field trip once a week to a site related to that week’s topic,” Roettger said. “In some ways, there is no difference as when we are lecturing and the students are taking notes like at home, although here we only have chairs and no desks. What is different is we are encouraged to take the students on field trips so they might experience our topics firsthand. We were told to use London as our classroom and we do when we can.”

However, being thousands of miles away from home has had some consequences.

“The biggest obstacle I have overcome while being here is probably the lack of communication with people back in the states,” Frame said. “I’m very close to my family, friends, boyfriend and generally talk to them several times a week. Because international calls are so costly, I have to limit my calling home to about once a week if I’m lucky. So, I rely heavily on e-mail.”

As the date for coming home approaches, Frame and Roettger prepare for their return home.

“We live in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea along with I don’t know how many others,” Roettger said. “Walking the streets you hear just about every language imaginable because the population is so mixed. You travel everywhere by foot, bus, or tube.

“If you want a specific type of ethnic food, it is available in restaurants or at the store. The choice of cultural activities is amazing; theatre, concerts, museums, clubs, all to be found almost everywhere.

“There are numerous parks and walking paths which are now brightening up with color as the flowers begin blooming. The only problem is there is too much to do with the time I have left.”

Frame said the different culture scared her at first, but everything turned out in the end.

“I have adapted really well to London life,” Frame said. “Now, I am just trying to prepare myself for the reverse culture shock of returning home to my friends and family.”