London and the Arts Travel Course

This past Easter break, the American College of Norway ventured to London for an arts travel course led by visiting faculty, Dr. Tami Carmichael from the University of North Dakota. On their tour of London, the students took in art of various forms around every corner of London. Thank you, Dr. Carmichael for leading such a successful travel course filled with tons of art, lots of laughs and new friendships! Where should we have faculty led travel courses next school year?!

The West End theatre, Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Rothko. Over Easter break, students in the ACN London and the Arts travel course immersed themselves in the London arts scene. That’s one of the things that makes the American College of Norway so special – in addition to offering all the benefits of an international college, ACN also engages students in the world around them in real and meaningful ways. From exploring the polar north in the fall travel course to Svalbard, to experiencing arts and culture in London, students at ACN take their learning into the world outside the classroom.
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I had the privilege of creating and leading this spring’s London travel course, and I chose to center the trip around the arts.  Some of the students who participated had never been to London, and others had not traveled there since they were very young. So, for everyone, in many ways this was a novel experience – and the students immersed themselves completely. We started with a bus tour of London and then enjoyed a very special lunch together in the Café in the Crypt at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. The weather was bright, and we had many great photo ops as we passed by Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge, and Westminster Abbey. It was a fantastic start to the trip. We were accompanied by another ACN staff member and our social media guru Nik Favero, who documented all of our activities! One of our current students, Amalie also made a video from the trip. Watch it here

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The students found time to enjoy some sight-seeing, shopping, and café culture before we met up for a West End musical: Kinky Boots. Since one of their other classes at ACN focused on protest and activism in the arts, this seemed a great opportunity to see theatre activism in action. After a traditional pub dinner, we found our floor seats at the Adelphi Theatre and were wowed by a powerful, energy-filled, visually gorgeous production. Most of the students had never attended a live, professional musical, but by the end, they were all joining in dancing and clapping with the rest of the audience through the curtain call. We left the theatre feeling empowered the show’s message and blown-away by the talent we had just witnessed.

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To carry on our exploration of London theatre, we met up the next morning for a tour of Shakespeare’s globe theatre. Here we learned about the history of theatre in London, and explored the inside of this reproduction theatre from the stage to the box seats. Many students expressed a desire to go back someday and see a production there.

In addition to theatre, we also immersed ourselves in the visual arts.  At the National Gallery we “ Wibbly Wobbly” Millennial Bridge to the Tate Modern where we viewed the complex installations by Jane Alexander and Mark Rothko. We compared the classic architecture of the National Gallery with the restored power-plant that has become the Tate Modern, considering how art is curated and presented to audiences.  

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We experienced so much in just a few short days, and more than that, we got to know each other better and truly enjoyed each other’s company. We learned a lot, laughed a lot, and opened our minds to new ideas and expressions. These phenomenal travel opportunities are yet one more reason why teaching and learning at American College of Norway can be so powerful and life-changing. ACN may truly be “the most beautiful thing in the world!” (Kinky Boots).  

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