Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
"If it's not real
You can't hold it in your hand
You can't feel it with your heart
And I won't believe it
But if it's true
You can see it with your eys" -Brick by Boring Brick, Paramore
lyrics may or may not be familiar to you, but if not, let the education begin.
These four lines originate from a song called Brick by Boring brick, written and performed by Paramore. These simple
lyrics inspired me to pursue research while abroad in London, England. Upon my in the acceptance London Program at
SLU, I realized that in order to take full advantage of the incredible
opportunity of studying abroad, I would have to do more than simply study and
fulfill the often, clichéd role of "young student traveling throughout Europe."
I knew that I had to write. Creative writing has always been an overwhelming
passion of mine, and the idea of being able to incorporate such a fruitful
experience into a piece of writing, enthralled me.
Through the four lyrics listed above, I decided that while studying abroad in London I would to write a narrative about a girl, traveling on the public transportation system throughout the city of London. I had previously learned that commuting, via tube or double-decker bus, is incredibly significant in the life of Londoners. This may seem a trivial fact, but growing up in a small town, having never taken public transportation (besides a standard school bus) previous to the semester abroad, allowed this mere fact of London life to piqued my interest. I wanted to know what types of people were commuting. Where were they going? Who were they traveling with? And what role did this system of transport play socially, beyond a simple mode to a location?
Being awarded a Travel Enrichment Grant, gave me the opportunity to explore a way life through a written narrative which was originally foreign to me. While I was abroad, I began to wonder what the transportation system was like in other countries in Europe, and if these buses and underground trains that I rode on a daily basis were simply a way to get from one place to the next, or something more? To carry out my research I began to observe people. I watched and dutifully recorded the types of people that were traveling with me and the way in which they interacted with each other. I was also fortunate enough to be able to travel to Ireland, and continue my research comparatively, looking at the transportation system in another country. This experience was extraordinarily meaningful to me and helped me observe that systems of public transportation are not always about destination but a place for all kinds of people to meet, if only for a moment. It is not the duration of the travel that particularly matters, but it's the people and unity of a system as such. In writing a narrative using a representative of myself as the main character, I was able to delvelop a sense of self exploration, which I never expected to result from this research. I want to take this opportunity to thank the foundation from which I received my grant, you allowed for such a meaningful and growing experience, one that would have never been possible without your generosity.