Students Gain Experiential Learning at BYU London Center

Contributed By Joyce Jones, Church News contributor

  • 2 October 2014

Students gather in the newly refurbished BYU London Center.  Photo by Joyce Jones, copyright 2012. Used with permission.

Article Highlights

  • The BYU London Center is located steps away from Hyde Park.
  • For eight weeks, students study and tour London and surrounding countries.
  • Refurbished facilities now include wifi and plumbing and electrical updates.

“Exposure to London is a life experience, giving me a larger world view. It is broadening.” —Brooke Waltman, participant

LONDON, ENGLAND

Surrounded by contemporary sights and sounds of 21st-century London, echoes of the past came to life for 40 students during summer term at the BYU London Center. Offering a full schedule of culture, travel, and scholarship for students, the center provides comfortable quarters, tasty food, and the perfect location to acquire an education. Living only steps away from the famed Hyde Park, students from across the world experience firsthand the history and vitality of London.

When discussing the center, comparative literature and humanities professor Stan Benfell observed, “Location is the greatest benefit. We are in the heart of world-class theater, concert halls, and museums, with Kensington Gardens only a half mile away.”

In an academic atmosphere where students experience what many only read about in books, days are filled with classroom instruction; concert, museum, opera, and theater attendance; and excursions to historic sites and locations. As the only young man attending the summer term, Justin Shaw observed, “The best aspect for me is that the BYU London experience is a hybrid of learning. You learn about something, then you can contextualize it by seeing it in person. I wish all learning were like this.”

Harvard science undergraduate, Brooke McLain, commented that she was initially inspired by her older sister who attended BYU London six years ago. With a love for science and the humanities, Brooke wants balance to her curriculum. “It is a dual interest for me. It is being in a place where all my interests can be met with those of the same faith.”

For an eight-week period, students benefit from the experience and academic expertise of Professor James Faulconer, academic director; Professor Stan Benfell, comparative literature and humanities; and Professor Grant Underwood, history. To qualify to attend the BYU London Center students are required to maintain a specific GPA, write a 300-word essay explaining how the experience relates to their major or future, obtain two recommendations, participate in an interview with the professors, and receive an ecclesiastical endorsement. More information about applying to attend the BYU London Center, or other study programs, may be found at kennedy.byu.edu.

Students are able to earn semester hours during one of four terms at the BYU London Center and have the opportunity to visit other countries, including Scotland and France.

Students enjoy the varied menu offerings in the servery. Photo by Joyce Jones, copyright 2012. Used with permission.

Professor Stan Benfell distributes tickets to the students for an opera. Joyce Jones. Photo by Joyce Jones, copyright 2012. Used with permission.

A decision to attend the BYU London Center allows students to feel closer to home with the opportunity to interact daily with the professors, their wives, and their children, as well as Thais (cook) and Alvaro Magalhaes (facility manager).

As Sheree Underwood, wife of Professor Grant Underwood, said, “These students are amazing. They are grateful to be here. They are inclusive and sensitive to each other, willing to share responsibilities. I am impressed how they look out for each other. These students are an extension of our family. They are a joy.”

In the recently refurbished facility, students can now enjoy updated plumbing and electrical connectivity for better wifi and Internet access throughout the building with greater functionality in the library, servery (cafeteria), and balcony patio area.

Beyond the cultural opportunities and comforts and conveniences of the center, students are gaining life skills as they live and interact with one another. Casey Lee from Singapore explained what she enjoyed most: “I think it is living with others, learning art forms, and learning English culture in its original setting.”

Considering life in the BYU London Center, advertising major Brooke Waltman from Salt Lake City summarized, “Exposure to London is a life experience, giving me a larger world view. It is broadening.”