“From Lancaster With Love”
Larissa Stoddart (’12), a Brescia honours student studying English and Philosophy, has been earning credits this year at Lancaster University, through the Western International Exchange Program. Larissa has noticed differences between the programs in London and Lancaster.
She explains, “The English Literature program is heavily reliant on theoretical criticism. At Brescia and Western we tend to focus on developing our personal thoughts about the literature we study. In Lancaster, the focus is on learning the ideas and criticisms of other academics.” Larissa believes that both approaches are useful in the study of English Literature, and thinks that universities in both Canada and in the United Kingdom should work towards finding a middle ground for teaching English Literature.
Larissa recalls that during lectures in England there was less class discussion and collaboration than there was in Canada. And she has been impressed by the daily reminders of the long and rich history of England and the other European countries she has visited this year, especially in relation to North America, which is comparatively young and “new.”
Larissa is very grateful for her opportunity to spend a year in England studying what she loves. She has learned many lessons, both inside and outside the lecture halls. Her experience has enabled her to understand the dark, deadpan British humour, as well as learning the rich British culture that has influenced her area of study for centuries. There were times when she longed to be back on Brescia's tight-knit campus and be within its comfortable and heartwarming community, but she has been very happy to be in Lancaster, England, for a year. She does feel that Canadian cities should learn from the way that English commercial areas and public transportation run. She also feels that the British fashion sense is more sophisticated than that of North America – a fashion sense she seems to have adopted, having purchased an extra suitcase in which to bring all her new clothes back to Canada this summer. Being away from home for so long has also given her immense appreciation for Canada and its vast, picturesque landscape and has also given her a strong sense of national identity.
Larissa maintains that, while moving to England for a year was one of the biggest challenges in her life, she has benefitted greatly from her exchange. She says, “I have grown so much as a person and gained a new sense of confidence about what I can achieve.”