Centre-in-England

Centre-in-England at the University of Reading (Fall 2014) and Centre-in-London (Spring 2015)


London London 2013 by Kristin Raque

London London decorated patriotically for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond
Jubilee. Photo by Kate Wintuska '13

London Stonehenge during a Centre-in-London trip in the spring of 2012.
Photo by Robyn Carroll '14

Centre-in-England (at Reading)

Location. This program provides an opportunity for a few selected Centre students to live and study at a major British university with British and other international students. It has had great appeal for Centre students who seek a somewhat more independent "exchange-student" experience at a foreign university, rather than the more typical Centre experience, where students take classes abroad with other Centre students and regular or adjunct Centre professors. About 20 percent of Reading's 16,000 students are from other countries, including about 125 visiting American students from institutions similar to Centre. Unlike most modern British universities, the 300-acre campus at Reading includes a lake and much green space.

Centre selected the University of Reading for this program because of its long-standing reputation as an attractive and welcoming home for American and other international students, the variety and strength of its academic programs, its leafy location near London, and the professionalism of its Visiting Student Office, which organizes very low-cost excursions to Edinburgh, Stonehenge, Bath, etc.

Eligibility. Students may not apply for this program unless they have a 3.0 academic average at the time they apply; this is a requirement of the University of Reading.

Housing. At Reading you will live in single or double rooms, each with its own washbasin, telephone, and computer port. There is a small kitchen for every eight rooms, and students are not segregated by gender or year. You will take your meals, compete on intramural teams, and have social events with the 250-300 other students in your residence hall. So that visiting students make friends with British and other international students, Reading typically does not house all students from an American institution on the same hall but, rather, spreads them out.

Program dates. The program begins with a two-hour "History and Culture of England" preparatory course that students begin in early September from their homes. The class meets as a group online, using the Bluejeans system; students need to have a computer with a camera, earphones, and strong internet connection for all class meetings in September. The last part of the course is conducted in London during the Centre orientation there. Students will probably fly out of the U.S. on Wednesday, September 24 (arriving in London early Thursday morning), but do not make plane reservations until this date is confirmed in early spring. The Centre orientation in London is followed by a six-day University of Reading "freshers week" orientation, which includes social events, excursions, student fairs, and lectures about travel opportunities in Great Britain and the continent. The final class is on Friday, December 12; plan to vacate your dorm on Saturday, December 13.

London Orientation. Once you arrive in London, you meet up with a Centre professor and the other Centre-in-England students for the completion of the two-hour course and an orientation to living/studying abroad and to London. In London you will stay in the Bloomsbury district near the British Museum and the British Library and will be introduced to some major museums, historical sites, and theatres. On Sunday the 28th you will take your final exam for the preparatory course and move into your hall at Reading, a pleasant, bustling town of 155,000 people upstream on the River Thames, about halfway to Oxford.

Courses. In addition to the required two-hour preparatory course, you will select either three or four courses (for a total of 20 ETCS or 12 Centre credit hours) from those available across many departments. The Reading term is 10 weeks long; typically, a course may have two lectures a week, occasional individual meetings with the professor, two papers, and some kind of final examination—although this regime will vary widely depending on the course and department. Students may not use a Reading English course as their required English junior seminar.

Cost. The cost is the same as studying in Danville, with the exception of a $375 non-refundable deposit/surcharge and airfare. This amount includes a $15 carbon mitigation fee, but does not include the $20 cost of the required Travel Clinic that all Centre students going abroad must attend. You may be able to save money by canceling your car insurance while abroad. Students with low EFC's (Expected Families Contributions) and large "gaps" may qualify for additional help from the Davidson Fund.

How to Apply. Application and faculty recommendation forms may be picked up at one of the campus-wide informational meetings on November 19, November 25, or January 8—or on the bookshelf in the Davidson Room of Old Carnegie. Turn in your completed application at the study abroad office no later than noon on February 6. Students who are selected must pay the non-refundable $375 deposit/surcharge to the Cashier's Office in Boles Hall by March 4 to hold their spot in the program.

A Note on Semester-long Centre Programs. Students may only study abroad on a semester-long Centre program once, though they may participate in as many CentreTerm and/or summer programs as they wish.

Statement about Grades Abroad. The grades that Centre students studying abroad have received in the past have been consistent with, or even a bit higher than, grades received on campus. Nevertheless, we want to make certain that you understand from the outset that the courses you take abroad will not necessarily be taught or evaluated as they would be at Centre. In the past, some abroad students have complained—after the fact—that it was unclear how their work was being evaluated, that they received little or no feedback of their progress from the professors, that they were unfairly competing with more advanced students, that they didn't receive their grades until months after they returned, etc. We will, of course, do what we can to advise you on courses you take, but finally you are responsible for those choices, and you must live with the results. The faculty committee on curriculum and academic standards will almost certainly not agree to change an abroad grade because you believe it is too low.

Medical Insurance. Students studying abroad through any Centre program receive travel and accident insurance at no additional cost. Centre's Study Abroad Insurance, while provided through EIIA (Educational & Institutional Insurance Administrators), is administered through AIG Assist. Every student studying abroad with Centre College receives an AIG Assist contact and information card. Each has the Centre insurance policy number, which is the only information needed to receive services. The categories of coverage provided are accident and sickness ($100,000 limit with a $250 deductible); emergency medical evacuation and emergency family travel ($100,000 limit); accidental death and disability ($200,000 limit); and repatriation of remains ($100,000 limit). For specific questions, please contact the International Programs office at 859.238.5285 or leigh.cocanougher@centre.edu.

Book Air Tickets Early to Save Money. Because students will be met at the airport and taken to campus, all students should arrive on the same flight. In a group meeting after selection has taken place, we'll discuss possible flights and the amount Centre will reimburse. Students will then book their own air tickets. In the past, students have generally been able to find economical round-trip air tickets. Some have found studentuniverse.com, statravel.com, or hipmunk.com helpful sites. Book early for the lowest prices.

Pre-Departure Training. Students selected will attend pre-departure meetings in the spring to prepare for living and studying in another culture. Students will also attend a mandatory travel medicine clinic and a mandatory meeting on safety and security before leaving for Reading.

Psychotropic Medication and Counseling. The kind of counseling and support services available on campus are not available abroad. Because any significant life transition can exacerbate and complicate already existing mental health issues, we encourage students who are currently on psychotropic medication and/or have been in mental health counseling to first consider participating in the three-week Summer Strasbourg program or a CentreTerm course abroad if they are fully confident they can do so without difficulty. Whenever they study abroad, those students are urged to meet with a Centre Student Assistance Program counselor prior to their leaving to develop a support plan for their time abroad.

Pre-Registration/Convocation Credits. While in Reading, you pre-register for future courses via e-mail with your regular academic advisor. You will automatically be credited with six convocation credits during your term abroad.

Passport. If you do not currently have a passport that will remain valid for at least six months after your return, begin the process of obtaining one as soon as you are selected. In the recent past, some students have waited three months to receive a passport, even though the passport agency has stated that it will take six to eight weeks. Do it now!



Centre-in-London, Spring 2015

Location. London, the city of eight million that hosted the 2012 Olympics, is perhaps the most dynamic and diverse city in the world. In the 21st century, it still lives up to Dr. Samuel Johnson's famous 18th century dictum: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." Students live and study in the Bloomsbury district, the academic and intellectual quarter in the very heart of the city and in walking distance to the West End theatre district and most of the great London sites: Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, Regent's Park, etc.

Eligibility. Any rising sophomore, junior, or senior who has not yet participated in a residential, long-term study abroad program may apply.

Housing and food. Students will in single or double rooms in apartments (with WiFi) for international students in a secure facility overseen by the Acorn Agency. The facility is a short walk to tube stations for both the Central and Circle lines. At regular intervals, students are given food money sufficient for shopping for and preparing wholesome meals—though not sufficient for eating out in restaurants, or even fast-food places, in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Program Dates. Students fly out of the States on Tuesday, February 10, and arrive in England the following morning (Wednesday), where (and when) the program formally begins. There is a five-day break for optional individual travel from Wednesday, March 18, through Sunday, March 22, coinciding with the end of Centre's spring break. After exactly 11 weeks, the program ends in London on the morning of Wednesday, April 29. Students may fly out of London on April 29 or choose to travel in the U.K. and/or Europe on their own after April 29 and fly back later from London, Paris, Rome, Frankfurt, or wherever. To make post-program travel easier for those flying out of London, Centre will arrange to store one suitcase per student until the morning of Monday, May 18.

Faculty Co-Directors. Co-directing the 2015 Centre-in-London program are Professors Andrea Abrams (anthropology) and John Kinkade (English). Both are accomplished Centre teachers who have taught students abroad. Prof. Abrams has led students to Ghana, and Prof. Kinkade has co-directed the London program in the past.

Courses. All students in the program will take London Lives (ENG 349), an exploration of how individuals have lived in London in the past three centuries. In addition to reading selections from biographies, we will use London as our laboratory to examine how art, architecture, and artifacts can help us understand life in London. Each student will research individual London residents from the past and use varied resources—portraits, written texts, houses, and exhibits—to reconstruct London lives. Taught by Prof. Kinkade.

In addition, students select three of the following courses:

a. Gender Studies (GNS 210): This class is an exploration of the social and cultural constructions of gender through a focus on contemporary issues. We will read about people within the United Kingdom and around the world to gain insight into how gender identity is differently learned, performed and experienced. The class will take advantage of London's rich museum and theatre culture to explore gendered representations through time. No prerequisites. Taught by Prof. Abrams.

b. Contemporary London Theatre (DRA 341): Students will study the range of contemporary London Theatre, from fringe to the major subsidized repertory companies, through a series of visits to performances and theatre sites and through lectures, readings, and discussion. Emphasis is on both texts and their performances. Students who sign up for this course will be charged $190 on their spring bills to cover part of the cost of the play tickets; Centre subsidizes the other part. Taught by Prof. Steven Dykes.

c. Comparative Blackness (ANT 336): This course is designed to address the following questions: Who is black? What is blackness? Is there one blackness or are there multiple blacknesses? What difference does ethnicity or national identity make to the experience of blackness? In order to consider these questions, we will compare the construction and experience of this identity in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Ghana through a reading and discussion of contemporary ethnographies. We will also explore the rich ethnic and immigrant culture of London through fieldwork in order to better understand the Black British experience. No prerequisites. Taught by Prof. Abrams.

d. London: A History in Mystery (ENG 269): This course examines the history of London and Great Britain through the lens of crime. Students will explore how mystery and crime writing imagine English culture and how historical events such as the mystery of the princes in the Tower or the murders by Jack the Ripper become part of the cultural imagination. Crime writing, theater, film, and explorations of London will all contribute to our understanding of crime and detection across three centuries. No prerequisites. Taught by Professor Kinkade.

Centre Excursions. Centre will arrange and pay for academic and cultural excursions in and around London on some Wednesdays (regular classes are held on M-T-Th-F) and weekends. In addition, Centre will sponsor one or two excursions outside of the greater London area.

Cost. The comprehensive fee (for tuition & fees, room, and board) is the same as for study in Danville, except that (1) there is a $375 non-refundable deposit/surcharge due by Tuesday, March 4, and (2) students pay for their own airfare, which is currently available for about $850-$1,050 at reduced student rates. You may be able to save money by canceling your car insurance while abroad. The non-refundable deposit-surcharge includes a $15 carbon mitigation fee, but does not include a $20 Travel Clinic fee that all students studying abroad must attend. Centre pays for a few group meals and the required class excursions. On arrival, students will be given pounds Sterling to buy their initial groceries and to purchase an initial Oyster card for use on the extensive bus/tube/light rail lines in zones 1 and 2.

Apply. Application and faculty recommendation forms may be picked up at one of the campus-wide informational meetings on November 19, November 25, or January 8—or on the bookshelf in the Davidson Room of Old Carnegie. Turn in your completed application at the study abroad office no later than noon on February 6. Students who are selected must pay the non-refundable $375 deposit/surcharge to the Cashier's Office in Boles Hall by March 4 to hold their spot in the program.

A Note on Semester-long Centre Programs. Students may only study abroad on a semester-long Centre program once, though they may participate in as many CentreTerm and/or summer programs as they wish.

Statement about Grades Abroad. The grades that Centre students studying abroad have received in the past have been consistent with, or even a bit higher than, grades received on campus. Nevertheless, we want to make certain that you understand from the outset that the courses you take abroad will not necessarily be taught or evaluated as they would be at Centre. In the past, some abroad students have complained—after the fact—that it was unclear how their work was being evaluated, that they received little or no feedback of their progress from the professors, that they were unfairly competing with more advanced students, that they didn't receive their grades until months after they returned, etc. We will, of course, do what we can to advise you on courses you take, but finally you are responsible for those choices, and you must live with the results. The faculty committee on curriculum and academic standards will almost certainly not agree to change an abroad grade because you believe it is too low.

Medical Insurance. Students studying abroad through any Centre program receive travel and accident insurance at no additional cost. Centre's Study Abroad Insurance, while provided through EIIA (Educational & Institutional Insurance Administrators), is administered through AIG Assist. Every student studying abroad with Centre College receives an AIG Assist contact and information card. Each has the Centre insurance policy number, which is the only information needed to receive services. The categories of coverage provided are accident and sickness ($100,000 limit with a $250 deductible); emergency medical evacuation and emergency family travel ($100,000 limit); accidental death and disability ($200,000 limit); and repatriation of remains ($100,000 limit). For specific questions, please contact the International Programs office at 859.238.5285 or leigh.cocanougher@centre.edu.

Book Air Tickets Early to Save Money. Because students will be met at the airport and taken to campus, all students should arrive on the same flight. In a group meeting after selection has taken place, we'll discuss possible flights and the amount Centre will reimburse. Students will then book their own air tickets. In the past, students have generally been able to find economical round-trip air tickets. Some have found studentuniverse.com, statravel.com, or hipmunk.com helpful sites. Book early for the lowest prices.

Pre-Departure Training. Students selected will attend pre-departure meetings in the spring to prepare for living and studying in another culture. Students will also attend a mandatory travel medicine clinic and a mandatory meeting on safety and security before leaving for London.

Psychotropic Medication and Counseling. The kind of counseling and support services available on campus are not available abroad. Because any significant life transition can exacerbate and complicate already existing mental health issues, we encourage students who are currently on psychotropic medication and/or have been in mental health counseling to first consider participating in the three-week Summer Strasbourg program or a CentreTerm course abroad if they are fully confident they can do so without difficulty. Whenever they study abroad, those students are urged to meet with a Centre Student Assistance Program counselor prior to their leaving to develop a support plan for their time abroad.

Pre-Registration/Convocation Credits. While in Shanghai, you pre-register for future courses via e-mail with your regular academic advisor. You will automatically be credited with six convocation credits during your term abroad.

Passport. If you do not currently have a passport that will remain valid for at least six months after your return, begin the process of obtaining one as soon as you are selected. In the recent past, some students have waited three months to receive a passport, even though the passport agency has stated that it will take six to eight weeks. Do it now!

Internet, Laptops, and phone communication. Constant communication with everyone in the world is less available in London than it is in Danville. Indeed, if you want to spend huge hunks of time Facebooking and Skyping and avoiding the environment and people around you, you should not apply for this program; you can do those things in Danville and save the slot for students more interested in being immersed in London, England, and Europe. Wireless internet is available both in the classroom and in the student apartments. Although you may turn in all work hand-written, if you own a laptop, you should definitely take it.

Most students find it easiest to simply buy an inexpensive cell phone once they get to London. Students can usually buy one for 5 GBP and load on calling time as they need it. (It's about as inexpensive to call the States as it is to call in England with this system.) Early in the London orientation, the co-directors will take all students to the many electronics/phone stores along Tottingham Court Road.

Grades/Independent Studies. Mid-term warning grades of D or U are issued after the sixth week of the term, just as in Danville. All London courses count in the GPA, just as in Danville. The Pass-Unsatisfactory option is not available in any Centre study abroad program. Only students whose schedules require that they take a particular course not offered in London in order to graduate on time after four years may try to arrange an independent study with a Centre professor in Danville; this option is never recommended.


To see photos from past Centre-in-London experiences, click here.