Study Abroad in England with WSU English Professor
“Most students say it is the trip of a lifetime,” Professor ML Liebler said regarding his England through Literature, Music, Art and Popular Culture study abroad program. This program provides students with an overview of twentieth century art and history of England. A major component studied on the trip is Britain’s musical influence on the United States, specifically The Beatles’ influence that began in the 1960s.
This program takes place during the week of spring break and spans 10 days. It kicks off with a couple of days to explore London, followed by a few days in Liverpool where students take tours of the Beatles’ homes and a Beatles Taxi Tour of Liverpool. Then the trip heads to Bath where students will be able to tour the city, its museums, and learn more about Bath’s literary history. Lastly, the program ends with two final days in London, during which students will be able to explore the various museums and sights the city has to offer.
Current senior, Celeste Frank, participated in the program in 2018. This was Frank’s first trip abroad and she said it was a good way to ease her into being on a different continent. She recommends it to anyone reluctant to travel overseas, as it is a fairly short trip. She added, “One of the nicest things about this trip is that there is not a language barrier, which makes getting around much easier.”
To attest to how great the program is, the 2020 trip will be the fourteenth year Professor Liebler has taken a group of students to England. In 2001 Professor Liebler was asked to teach a course in English and American studies on “The Beatles and Their Impact on Popular Culture.” As he continued to teach the course it became “much more detailed and dynamic” and he decided it would be an excellent focus for a study abroad program. Having been to London and Liverpool multiple times on his own, he was prepared to organize the trip when he finally received the opportunity in 2006.
Since the program began, at least 150 students have gone. There have even been a few students who have taken the trip two or three times. One of those students is Lisa Recker, who referred to the trip as “a bucket list experience.” She has gone on Professor Liebler’s U.K. Tour six times. Recker, a WSU alumna, currently lives in California, which speaks to how great this program is, as she flies into Detroit to join the trip. She is a self-described “Anglophile and Beatles freak” and has been able to visit many Beatles related places thanks to Professor Liebler’s program, including Abbey Road and Studio 2. “I’ve learned so much and have had the amazing opportunity to see things with my own eyes,” Recker said.
An important component of the trip focuses on The Beatles as well as the connection between the United Kingdom and the United States. Recker said “The history of The Beatles, and Brit music is fascinating, as is the US/UK connection. Sailors and military would bring records over to Liverpool, a big port city. And the influence of American music in UK kids starting skiffle bands and then rock & roll.” Celeste commented on a more modern connection between the US and the UK, “I never would have thought that so many people from London knew about Detroit. Any time people found out we were from the city of techno they lost their minds; this was awesome and unexpected!” Professor Liebler also enjoys the connection between England and Detroit. He finds that Liverpool has many similarities with Detroit: it is an urban, working-class town, and has played an important role in music.
The study abroad program is open to all levels of undergraduate students as well as graduate students. Students have the option to take English 5990 to obtain credit for the course. Throughout the class students will study British culture and popular culture as well as its impact on American culture. Furthermore, students will look at how the U.S.-U.K. connection was created and how it continues to affect American culture since the Beatles. In ENG 5990 Professor Liebler discusses the Beatles in ways students may not have thought of before, including “the many connections the Beatles have to music, literature, theater, film, art, poems, fashions, the law, business and finance, and even medicine.” While it is not mandatory to take the course in order to go on the trip, most students do enroll in English 5990 as an independent study or register for an alternative independent study program in their major.
Frank has not taken the independent study course, but highly recommends the trip to students who want to experience what it is like to be abroad. She said, “It was a million times more exciting than seeing photos of things like this. The most memorable part of the trip was being able to visit the homes of the Beatles and to experience in real life where these incredibly famous people grew up, performed and walked down the street.” Another highlight for her was being able to meet people who “have lived in England their entire lives and have genuine conversations [with them].”
In addition to meeting locals, there is no shortage of things to see and places to go! Although Recker has taken the trip six times, she has yet to run out of things to do and always has a list of activities and places to visit. One of the activities she enjoys doing during her free time in England is attending plays. Frank enjoyed sightseeing and was able to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London amongst other locations. During planned tours she learned a lot of interesting and exciting facts and was “overloaded on cool facts about the Beatles.” She also mentioned that they were given a free day, on which many students took day trips to Paris or Stonehenge. Celeste and her roommate visited Camden market which she described as “unlike anything I had seen before.” She added, “trips like these do not come around often! If you are looking for a unique trip and also hoping to make new friendships along the way this is the right program for you!”
Studying abroad is always a life-changing opportunity. Experiencing a new culture can open one’s eyes to all the world has to offer. Professor Liebler’s program is an excellent possibility for English majors and other WSU students as well. Professor Liebler encourages students to join the program because it is a unique experience and includes the non-stop flight to and from London, train tickets to and from Liverpool, as well as the hotels and required activities for the trip. Additionally, there is plenty of time for students to explore England individually and in the past students have taken an extra trip to Paris, Dublin, or Amsterdam. Consider including Professor Liebler’s study abroad program to your academic plan and check out the WSU Study Abroad page to and join an unforgettable trip!