Many juniors are preoccupied with spring study abroad plans. I am no exception: I just mailed in my housing information (three weeks late) and still have not sent my deposit. Note to self: wire 100 immediately. I’m going to Bath, England, by the way.
England was never my original plan. In fact, I had written off Europe entirely. After spending time in Malawi, Africa for the past two summers, I was hoping to travel back to the continent again maybe South Africa or Kenya but no UR-sponsored programs captured my interest. The exception was Ghana; this West African country seemed like my one chance.
The response most people gave when I asked where I should study abroad, was ‘Ghana. Definitely.”
So, why Bath? While England perhaps lacks the alluring exoticism of Ghana, the Advanced Studies in England course descriptions were intoxicating. Next semester I will answer From the Modern to the Post Modern tutorial’s question: ‘How have authors from Britain, Europe and beyond worked to develop, challenge, and generally make mischief with the efforts of their Modernist predecessors?”
I currently love my Modern Literature course a good sign and will study author Italo Calvino. Please read ‘If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler.” Bottom line, I fell in love with the opportunities Bath offered.
I was tormented; I was supposed to go to Africa. Or at least some place not in Europe. My internal struggle persisted since I could not admit that I legitimately wanted to go to Bath more than Ghana.
Then, for my Race in American Literature class, I had to read selections from http://www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com. There are some excerpts from author Christian Lander that I want to share (N.B. These are not the full passages).
No. 19 Traveling: ‘The second type of white person travel is Third World. This is when they venture to Thailand, Africa or South America. Some do it so that they can one up the white people who only go to Europe.”
No. 72 Study Abroad: ‘Then there is the conversation killer of studying abroad in Africa. If you studied in Africa, it is usually a good idea to keep quiet, it will remind people that they were too scared to go and they will feel bad.”
Lander’s explanation, though stereotyped and comical, is true. First of all, it fits since I just so happen to be white. But, more importantly, my dilemma was rooted in the fact that I wanted to be a white person in Africa because it was the more daring choice. It’s as if by traveling to Africa I could mitigate the benefits I receive daily from our nation’s institutionalized racism.
My sister Emily put it best: ‘Don’t be stupid. The program you want is in Bath. Go to Bath. Don’t go to Ghana because it’s Ghana and it’s cooler and you’ll somehow be cooler if you’re a white person in Ghana. If you really want to go to Ghana, you’ll find another way.”
So, post-reading assignment and an enlightening talk with my wiser, older sister, I concluded that Bath is the best place for me.
It’s funny, though. Consider the new response to my study abroad choice: ‘England? Really? I totally thought you were the sort of person to go some place crazy like Africa.” What do they know? Besides, I have already been to Malawi (twice), so I have nothing to prove.
Squires is a member of the class of 2010.