Postcard from London: A Medieval Experience

History major and Mannion Society member Marisa Bohm is spending the spring semester in London. Marisa has written to us to share her experiences of her junior semester abroad:

When I was accepted to study abroad in London as a part of the Fordham London Liberal Arts program during the spring of my junior year, I really had no idea what to expect of my future home.  Before I left this past fall, I was lucky enough to take a class with Dr. Kowaleski called Medieval London, which covered the establishment of London and the expansion and industry of the city up until the period of around 1500.  This course gave me a solid foundation of the history and layout of London, as well as a knowledge of the ‘peculiar’ pronunciations of words, such as ‘Thames’ and ‘Southwark.’  As a student of History, I was very excited to learn more about the rich past of London, onward from the periods that were covered in this course, and I have yet to be disappointed!

For many of my classes, both at the Fordham London Centre and at City University London, I am fortunate enough to take many London and British focused courses, namely Historic London, 20th Century Europe and Art and Architecture in London. These courses are mostly based on site visits to various museums and famous landmarks around London.  I have thoroughly enjoyed these trips, as they allow for an immersive learning experience that I could not get in the classroom.  Seeing these sites in person invokes a sort of awe in me, as I am able to marvel at not only the deep history of these places, but also place them in context of their place in London and their weight to the British national identity.  Trips to Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, and the British Museum have allowed me to have a deeper understanding of these places that I could not get reading about them in a textbook.

While I am in London, I am also taking the opportunity to do research as a part of the Mannion Society, focusing on medieval butchery and meat-eating practices after the Black Death of 1348 in London.  As a part of this research, I have had the opportunity to visit the British Library, only a 5-minute walk from my flat located in Bloomsbury.  Since the library holds over 170 million items, members must request materials to the various reading rooms throughout the library. These books cannot be checked out, so I bring my laptop and stack of notecards to pour over various physical books and academic journals for my research.  So far during my time at Fordham, I have really only used online sources for research in my classes.  Even though I have never conducted research in this manner, working at the British Library has been a very fun experience so far! I look forward to sharing more of my experiences when I return to Fordham this fall!

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