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ND creates new study abroad program

| Wednesday, September 24, 2014

A new study abroad program at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, England will offer juniors majoring in English and American Studies an immersive experience in an English-speaking country, Notre Dame International (NDI) associate director David Younger said.

web_university of east angliaSara Shoemake | The Observer
Younger said the study abroad program is part of an exchange agreement between Notre Dame and UEA. He said the first UEA student is currently studying on Notre Dame’s campus this semester, and the first Notre Dame student will travel to Norwich in the spring.

Younger said the University began working to establish the program in the spring of 2013, after an American Studies professor at UEA contacted the chairs of the English and American Studies departments. For the next three years, Younger said, each university will send a maximum of two students to the other school per semester — two for the full year or two students for the first semester and two for the second.

“If the program [is] successful and interest in the program extends beyond these two disciplines, the program could expand to other areas in the future,” Younger said.

Professor of English Valerie Sayers, who headed the Department of English when the program was established, said the department took an interest in partnering with UEA because the Norwich program would give English students the opportunity to experience the literary life of the city.

“[The Department of] English was particularly interested in the wonderful history of creative writing at UEA, … the richness of their literature offerings and the possibilities for students who wanted to experience England outside of London and without the full support system of Notre Dame London,” Sayers said.

Annie Coleman, Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of American Studies, said the Norwich program would give American Studies students the ability to work towards their degree in an English-speaking country and at a university with a strong American Studies program.

“In the past it’s been Dublin, primarily, and the program in Washington, D.C., where students in American Studies have been able to take classes for the major,” Coleman said. “It’s nice that there will be another program where they can do that.”

Unlike the larger London program, where Notre Dame students all live in the same building, students in Norwich will live in dormitories with UEA students, according to the NDI website. Younger said this living situation contributes to the immersive experience of the program.

“Having that direct connection to student life and the university will undoubtedly enhance the study abroad experience through cultural immersion,” Younger said. “Similar to ND and many other universities, the dormitories are not simply places where students sleep at night, but also serve as gathering places for study and recreation.”

Sayers said this cultural immersion will extend to life in the city.

“Students will be studying, working and living outside the communities of ND students who go to London and Dublin, so it’s definitely a program for independent and creative spirits who would like to immerse themselves in a side of the U.K. they might not otherwise experience so richly,” she said.

According to the NDI website, UEA’s American Studies department ranks in the top three on several lists and surveys in the U.K., and the university has “a special reputation in creative writing.”

Norwich, a city of 215,000 near the English coast, is a center of arts and culture, with several music and literary festivals throughout the year, the website said. According to the UEA creative writing program’s website, Norwich is the only UNESCO City of Literature in England.

Coleman said American Studies students in particular will be able to study the United States from an outside view and contribute their own perspectives to discussions in the U.K.

“When you’re not in the United States, but you’re thinking about the United States, the field of American Studies allows you an interdisciplinary look at a lot of different kinds of things — politics, society, culture, art, institutions, history,” she said. “… Our students have a lot to add to the students in Norwich. Having Notre Dame students represent us and be able to engage in these conversations from different perspectives is really valuable for both ends, which is why the exchange is going to be so great.”

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About Emily McConville

Emily McConville is a news writer and photographer for the Observer. She is a senior studying history and Italian with a minor in journalism. She is from Louisville, KY and lives off-campus.

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