Whenever he thought about it, he felt terrible. And so, at last, he came to a fateful decision. He decided not to think about it. ~John-Roger and Peter McWilliams
Question #47586 posted on 09/26/2008 3:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I have always wanted to study abroad. I'm seriously looking into going Spring 2009 either to London or the England Literature one. I'd like to apply for both, just in case I don't get into one and get into the other, etc. Am I allowed to do that? Suppose I made it into both. What are the procedures for dropping a study abroad program once you're accepted? Could I just say "I don't want to go anymore because I'm going on this other one"?

Also: if any you have been one either of these Study Abroads, what are some good things to know about both of them? And what is a good way to persuade my parents that a Study Abroad in England would be a great experience for my major and not just some touristy thing that I think would be fun?

- English Major (who would ask the main question herself but doesn't want to have the fact that she might be applying to more than one program accept any admission decisions...)

A: Dear Anglophile:

Am I allowed to apply for both?

I don't see why not.

Suppose I made it into both. What are the procedures for dropping a study abroad program once you're accepted?

Well, if you are accepted for both, just politely decline. There's a deposit, so if you don't pay that, they know you're not coming. If you have accepted, to cancel, you have to do it in writing.

Says my friend who attended the English Literature program:
Woah, you opened a big can of worms by allowing me to comment on this program. I am a raving fan, and I don't know a single person who went on the trip who doesn't feel the same way.

On the professors: I highly recommend both of the professors on this study abroad. When I went on this SA in 2007, it was just John Bennion teaching, and I've learned a lot through working with him for the past year. He is an excellent creative writer and good at giving you feedback that you could actually implement long term. I also took an advanced theory class from Dr. Duerden--he's an excellent professor, good at addressing in-depth concepts in a way that invites you to step in to the complex discussion.

On the hiking aspect: I am not an athletic person, and personal circumstances resulted in me not being as physically prepared for the hikes as I wanted to be. I also broke my arm about a week before we left. The first two weeks of the trip were the hardest--because of geography, you hit all three mountains in the first two weeks. These aren't Utah-like mountains, but still good, steep uphills of 8 miles or so each time. I was able to do these hikes, but I was pretty slow in comparison to more experienced backpackers. After those first few weeks, it becomes much flatter and easier, plus your body begins to adjust to working hard every day pretty quickly. By 3-4 weeks, walking felt great. We had a few people in our group who couldn't hack the long hikes, and John was very considerate to accommodate them in the experience. However, you might miss out a lot if can't hike at all--the spontaneous experiences and long contemplations are the meat of the trip. The best preparation advice I can give is to find some people to go hiking or running with and go frequently. Barring that, have a good attitude for the first few weeks, and I promise you'll be a hiker in no time.

On the subject matter: This study abroad focuses largely on learning how to write effectively and how to understand literature and yourself. After one year of working with John on writing, you're going to feel like you really understand written communication. The focus is mainly on "creative non-fiction," the nebulous genre also known as the personal essay or literary essay. To get a feel for the type of writing done on the program, look for The Restored Gospel and Applied Christianity 2008, the collection of the David O. McKay Essay Contest winners, at the bookstore--three of the winning essays were written by people on this study abroad (Elizabeth Knight, Elizabeth Busby (me), and Brooke Larson). You could also look at The Art of the Personal Essay, the critical anthology of creative non-fiction, which contains several of the essays you'll read on the trip. (Or try Wikipedia.)

Basically, creative non-fiction is like memoir, autobiography, or travel writing combined with a little philosophy. If you aren't particularly interested in creative non-fiction, this may not be the study abroad for you, but we had plenty of converts to the genre while on the trip. One of the major assignments last time was to complete 200+ pages of journal writing over the course of 8 weeks. I loved it, and it gives you lots of material to draw on for the formal essay assignments. The discussions of literature were also great, but not terribly grounded in literary theory. We looked at writing for sound psychological principles and for its craft as a piece of writing. The fact that the study abroad involves a year-long curriculum means you really get to work in depth with the other students and the teachers--I highly recommend making sure you'll be able to take both the classes the winter before and the fall after. It really completes the experience. I completed an Honors Thesis as a result of the work I did in these classes and got two publications out of it as well.

On the travel experience: The main difference between this study abroad and other England study abroads is the mobility and variety of locations. You get to really see a slice of English life, not just London plus some touristy side-trips. I got a good sense of what it meant to be English as we traveled all over the countryside. The accomodations are basic hostel quality, not five-star hotel. You'll rarely stay in the same place for more than 2 days, so get used to living out of a suitcase. If you're looking for an insulated, posh, metropolitan experience, I recommend some other trip. You'll visit many locations written about in literature or where literature was written, and you'll get to know your travel mates really well. There's a huge amount of camaraderie on this trip. You'll also learn a lot about yourself--more than one person's life has been shaped by this program.

Other resources: Check out the group blog, my friend's creative non-fiction journal with pictures (incomplete, but some great stuff), my travel blog (only about 1/2 way complete, but you'll get the idea). If you ask Professor Bennion, he might lend you his copy of the KBYU documentary on our trip--a good resource for convincing parents. :D Yeah, this trip is that unique. There is truly nothing else like it. It will change your life. No, I'm not being paid to say this. Just go! Trust me.

If you have further questions, ask for my email address (via Portia)and I'll communicate with you personally.

(That enough information, [Portia]?)
Says my friend who attended the London program (with Hermia, actually):
Nothing, nothing, nothing beats international experience. And the great thing about study abroad is that it is a far shot from being "touristy." Of course you go see things, but living there makes the experience deeper and more meaningful. You are changing rather than just experiencing.

I'm biased, I know, but if you have any chance to live in the London Center, DO IT! That place is like heaven! I believe it is cheaper because the meals are provided (breakfast and dinner) and you get to eat the leftovers for lunch, so it is a huge money and time saver to not be shopping and making food for yourself all the time.

The London study abroad provides great opportunities to really get to know the city. I had lots of time to explore and wander through the city. I didn't get to go on the country side one, but just the idea of it makes me swoon. It sounds so awesome! I suppose the difference between the two is in London you really get to know London, on the countryside trip, you get to see more of the English sites.

Either way, do all within your power to get there! It will change your life and you will never regret it!

(Hope this helps, [Portia]!)
Now you know. Sounds like both of these could be rather amazing experiences, if you can swing it financially.