Students in two of instructor Carrie Moore’s Communication Studies classes this fall are traveling to London once a week – virtually, that is! Each Wednesday, students in her 8 a.m. Communicating Effectively and 9 a.m. Parliamentary Debate classes connect live with individuals in the United Kingdom.
“I came up with this idea of a ‘virtual abroad’ class last spring in the midst of no travel, online and hybrid classes, and my selfish longing to be in London,” Moore says.
Bair Kothmann, a senior communication studies major, says the London labs are a nice escape from regular classes. “To feel like you’re exploring the streets of London for just 50 minutes has been a nice change of pace! We even got to have a Q&A over Zoom with a sitting member of Parliament named Angus MacNeil. It was so cool to get his perspective on current events and insight into their government,” Kothmann says. “That was one of the more memorable classes I’ve had in my four years at TCU.”
One of the special guests who has joined Moore’s class virtually throughout the semester is Vicky Bailey, a London Blue Badge tourist guide who has provided in-person tours in the United Kingdom to Moore’s study abroad groups for six years. Some of the topics she has covered this semester include a discussion about the Magna Carta and how it relates to Parliamentary debate, the development of Parliament and how power evolved away from the monarchy, and the most fascinating artifacts in the British Museum.
Kothmann was part of a study abroad course with instructors Moore, Debi Iba and Steve Levering during spring break 2020, but their trip was cut short when the pandemic’s arrival sent the group home from Berlin. He says he has been anxious to return to Europe, so he joined this fall’s class because a virtual study abroad experience was as close as he could get before he graduates.
“This class has been a great experience! I’m so glad that they were able to make something work in this situation. Since Instructor Moore’s passion for the city is so evident, she has helped us develop a love for the city too. I obviously would prefer to physically be in London, but this has been very fun and I’ve learned a lot,” Kothmann says.
Student J.R. Justice, who has visited London before, says he’s looking forward to his next trip across the pond. “After these virtual days, it makes me want to go back even more and visit places that I had no idea about,” says Justice, a senior communication studies major.
Before the semester concludes, Moore’s classes will celebrate offline with a spot of high tea. She will teach students the cultural significance of the tradition and how high tea is centered around conversation. The last class meeting will feature an examination of Winston Churchill and the brilliance of his oration.