UO students ride the London Eye
Ducks Fly to England

Twenty UO sophomores spent a month in London this summer taking classes, going on adventures, and learning from the exciting experience of visiting another country

Story By ED DORSCH | photos by uo students

When summer school starts with a ride on the London Eye, you know your summer is going to be anything but ordinary. The stunning view of the city skyline from 443 feet wasn’t the only new perspective gained by University of Oregon students who traveled to London in June through the PathwayOregon program.

For all, it was a month of coursework, excursions, and cultural immersion. For many, it was their first time visiting another country.

Through the UO’s London in a Global Context program, they lived and took classes at a Global Education Oregon Center in a townhouse built circa 1720. Home away from home was just ten minutes from the British Museum, with buses and tube stations nearby—as well as some of London’s most famous galleries, museums, and theaters.

Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens
PathwayOregon students posing at the Tower of London
Visiting the Tower of London

 

PathwayOregon student visits the Wallace Collection Restaurant in London for High Tea
High Tea at the Wallace Collection Restaurant
The musical "Hamilton" at the Victoria Palace Theatre

The World is Your Classroom

London is a tapestry of complex, overlapping histories that extend more than 2,000 years into the past. During their four weeks abroad, PathwayOregon students earned nine credits learning about London in a global context and exploring contemporary British politics and society. They investigated migration issues, how London is changing, politics, race and diversity, popular culture, and more.

Class spilled out of the classroom—and into the streets, museums, and historical sites. Organized excursions dovetailed with lessons about history and current issues. For example, they visited the Palace of Westminster while studying British politics. Prime Minister Boris Johnson resigned during the program, making the lessons even more relevant and timely.

Other excursions included the Museum of London, a boat trip to Greenwich, and a Great Fire of London walking tour. The group took a day trip to Brighton (including fish and chips on the beach) and enjoyed tea at the Wallace Collection Restaurant. And they visited the Churchill War Rooms, Soho, and Camden.

But some of the most transformative moments didn’t come from planned outings.

Throughout the program, students met people from diverse cultures, experienced profound personal growth, and discovered a newfound independence. You can't plan for those opportunities. You just have to be there. You also have to go beyond your comfort zone and try something new (like navigating the London tube by yourself or striking up a conversation with a local).

 
“By the end of the month, the shared experiences brought the group together and strengthened their sense of community. I also observed tremendous growth in each student, which was an intentional part of the program.”
Group of PathwayOregon students at Brighton Beach

For trip leader Celena Simpson, an associate director for PathwayOregon and degree progression, the best part of visiting London was watching students come together as a group—and grow as individuals.

“By the end of the month, the shared experiences brought the group together and strengthened their sense of community," she says. I also observed tremendous growth in each student, which was an intentional part of the program.

“When you’re in another country trying to overcome obstacles, you don’t always have the right answers at your fingertips. That could mean a problem with your passport, a lost phone, or catching up with the group. It’s okay to embrace the uncertainty and give yourself a chance to figure it out.”

The students benefitted from learning experiences both inside and outside the classroom.

“They valued being in the place they were learning about and talking to people about current issues," Simpson says. “It gave them opportunities to think critically about their own identities and explore general issues around identity, politics, and culture from a new perspective.”

PathwayOregon students enjoy a meal in London

“In London, everything is historic. You can walk anywhere, and every step you take is another story to be told.”
—Danaya Lowe, journalism major from Portland, OR

Fun memory: Standing on the Greenwich Meridian with one foot in each time zone.

Favorite excursion: Electric Avenue in Brixton—diverse cultures, shops, historic monuments, and community.

Biggest challenge: Staying focused on rigorous coursework when there are so many fun things to do.

Photo (left): Danaya Lowe (bottom right) with other PathwayOregon scholars in London 

 

 

“It was a life-changing experience. Study abroad is essential.”
—Josh Celio Espinoza, business and journalism major from Scotts Mills, OR

Greatest challenge: “It’s such a huge city. You really have to plan out where you want and need to be.”

Personal Growth: “I feel much more capable than I ever have before. I’ve become more self-reliant and self-assured.”

Biggest surprise: Learning about British history before the 1700s and its connections to the Roman Empire.

English food: “Is it my favorite? No. But there’s something to be said about British cuisine. It was a different and enjoyable experience.”

PathwayOregon students in front of London's Tower Bridge at night
Josh Celio Espinoza (left) with other PathwayOregon scholars in front of London's Tower Bridge

 

Atlantic Crossing

A generous gift from a UO donor made it possible for PathwayOregon scholars to travel to London this summer for the immersive learning experience of a lifetime. PathwayOregon is a scholarship and student support program for Oregonians.

20
PathwayOregon Sophomores
31
Days in England
9
Academic Credits
PathwayOregon scholars enjoy a boat ride in Oxford
Aria Riley (right) and Morgan Nguyen enjoy “punting the river”—riding a boat propelled by pushing a stick on the river bottom—near Oxford


 
“I’m very thankful. This experience broadened my knowledge.”
—Aria Riley, Spanish and planning, public policy and management major from Beaverton, OR

Favorite excursion: Oxford University—“The library was very expansive.”

Biggest challenge: Lugging her luggage up and down stairs in the London Underground station.

Surprising moment: Learning that “Keep Calm and Carry On” is a British slogan from 1939.

Experiencing new cultures: “People are more open about politics in London, and they’re willing to discuss topics that are taboo in the US. It was interesting to hear their thoughts about my country.”

 

 

“I liked being able to learn history, talk about it in class, then go see these places.”
—Julian Yue, business major from Parkdale, OR

Goals for the trip: Meet new people, get immersed in the culture, and make a new friend. “I achieved all of those. I was proud that I was able to put myself out there.”

Best food: Jerk chicken in Brixton

Ice breaker: Yue brought his skateboard, which turned out to be a great way to meet new people. He participated in a London skate board competition.

Class act: “Our classes were amazing, and the teachers made it all so engaging.”

 

 

PathwayOregon scholars in boats on the river near Oxford
Julian Yue, Josh Kaatz, Kexziah Denny, and Arwen Thomas enjoy punting the river near Oxford

PathwayOregon scholar in front of London's Tower Bridge at night

Global Education Oregon

GEO Centers offer students a home away from home

Explore the World

UO students on a Thames River cruise

“It opened a whole new world of knowledge.”
—Lizbeth Gonzalez Gabriel (left), Spanish and family and human services major from Salem, OR

A major first: For Gonzalez Gabriel, it was the first time traveling outside the US—and outside Oregon.

Field work: “They encouraged us to explore on our own, as well as joining the organized tours. For one of our final exams, we picked three London streets, went there on our own, and made observations.”

Personal growth: The experience helped Gonzalez Gabriel become more outgoing after the isolation of COVID-19 and remote learning. “After London, I’m the first one to start a conversation.”

UO student Mollie Glover in the dining hall of Christ Church, an Oxford University College

“History and politics feel less removed when you go and see where they actually happened.”
—Mollie Glover from Bend, OR

The value of study abroad: “Going to college is transformative. It’s a new level of independence for a lot of people—and seeing new things. Study abroad enhances all that.”

Biggest surprise: “I was really nervous, I didn’t know anyone, and I hadn’t done anything like this before. I was surprised how well I adapted.” After the program ended, Glover visited Edinburgh, Scotland, to spend four days traveling on her own.

Trying new food: Beans on toast? Not her favorite. Haggis? Hard pass. But Glover enjoyed the fish and chips.

UO students at Christ Church, an Oxford University College

PathwayOregon

Scholarship and support program for Oregonians

Learn More

For more information about the PathwayOregon scholarship program, please contact Jen Parker: jeparker@uoregon.edu, 541-346-8018