Why England? I mean, sure, there are plenty of other gorgeous landscapes out there and lots of interesting people to meet all over the world. So why, on my first and possibly only trip abroad, choose one of the most developed and American-esque countries in the world?
One of the grandest passions of my life has been reading (the other being horses). I went into kindergarten knowing how to read, thanks mostly to my parents’ dedication to reading to me and my church’s emphasis on Scripture and verse memorization.
The stories that always stood out to me the most, though, generally involved magic of some sort….talking animals, supernatural beings, and far away places filled my childhood imagination. It wasn’t until I was older that I would begin to discover the common thread behind my favourite tales.
The Chronicles of Narnia was my first clue. You see, all of the entrances to Narnia seem to be in England. Logically, I thought to myself, if one was British, one could get into Narnia much easier than if one was American. Then, there were my tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table, the quintessential British monarch and landscape. Clearly, my young mind reasoned, I was missing out on something special by growing up in America.
As I grew older, my selection of readings began to broaden, but the idea of something magical in British literature was already embedded deep in my psyche. I unconsciously tended towards the works of British authors through grammar school, even picking up Dickens when I was ten or eleven because I felt it was simply the next proper step in my reading journey.
Of course, I can’t even begin to explain the impact Shakespeare had on me when he and I were formally introduced during my freshman year of high school. Between him and Jane Austen, I was sinking deeper all the time.
Fast forward to my fourth year in college….you know, the one where you should be graduating. I, instead, was making my third change in majors, finally settling on English. After taking an Introduction to English Literature class at our local community college, the full impact of what these stories meant to me came flooding back, along with an insatiable desire for more.
I was simultaneously taking a creative writing class as well, which allowed the perfect outlet for the creative energy being fuelled by my readings. Everything from ancient Celtic myths to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein somehow ended up being reflected in my writing. I knew at that point, there was no going back.
Finally, an opportunity arose for me to travel with ASU to England specifically to study the landscape and literature of the country. To walk the halls of Haworth, to visit the streets of Stratford….it couldn’t be more “dream come true” for me.
For me, this trip is both the full circle of where I started, and the beginning of a new path that will broaden the scope and depth of my writing. I may not discover an enchanted wardrobe or run into any jousting knights while I’m there, but England has already been working its magic in my heart for a long time.