The Independent Student Newspaper of Ashoka University

Children’s Literature in the Heart of London

Diya Mukhedkar from the Class of 2019 tells us about her London experience, studying Children’s Literature through the ages and watching football with the English.

Major at Ashoka: English

Course at King’s College London: Wonderland: 100 Years of Children’s Literature

One of the reasons that I applied for a summer abroad programme was because I was eager to change my classroom context. Apart from wanting to meet people from different parts of the world, I wanted to live in a new city (outside of India).

When I was considering where to apply, one of my professors said that my choice should be driven by the city I was to study in, rather than the course.

I had always wanted to go to London, and therefore decided that King’s would be the perfect place to spend my summer. The description for my course — 100 Years of Children’s Literature — seemed the most exciting, especially since it involved several excursions within London.

Equivalent to a 100-level course at Ashoka, the course was informative and interesting. Like many summer courses, it catered to students that did not have prior experience with English. Sometimes, this meant that the seminars were driven by five or six students that were confident of their analyses, which lead to the seminars being quite repetitive. However, the course content and lectures were engaging and exciting. One of the strengths of the course was the way in which literary theory was put into conversation with the various texts we were reading.

My tutor was one of the best lecturers I have been taught by — she was extremely articulate and knew how to manage a very diverse classroom. She also made creative writing an integral part of the course. This meant that we wrote creative pieces almost every other day, as well as for our final assessment. In these creative writing workshops, the classroom’s diversity found expression: people’s stories emerged from various cultures and ways of thinking. As an English student at Ashoka, my assessments are primarily based on academic writing. Therefore, the creative component of this course challenged me and pushed me outside my comfort zone.

After my three hour classes everyday, I would spend the afternoons exploring London. From museums to picnics, I did as much as possible everyday, and can safely say that I immersed myself in the vibrant city life. One of my favourite picnic spots was the Kensington Gardens — the place that inspired J.M Barrie to write Peter Pan.

Diya (bottom row, third from right) with some of her classmates at King’s College, London.

My time in London coincided with the World Cup. This meant that quite a few of my evenings were spent at pubs watching English fans go wild. It was great to see how everyone came together to support their country. Wimbledon matches, second only to those of the World Cup, were screened all over the city. As someone who loves watching sports, it was an incredible experience to watch with the English, who share this fervour.

Three non-touristy things that are a must-do in London:

  1. Picnics in Hyde Park: Just to lie on the grass, eat and drink. If you’re lucky, you might even have a chat with someone who has lots of stories to tell.
  2. Shows: Whether it’s at the West End or any other theatre, any theatre enthusiast will get their money’s worth.
  3. Watching sports in pubs: The atmosphere in pubs during any sporting event is something any sports junkie would love to experience.

I had been told by several friends that a summer abroad can be life-changing. After spending a month in the UK, I can vouch that this summer has indeed been transformational — at a personal and academic level. Living in central London by myself, travelling in and around London, and meeting different people were key factors of this life-changing experience.

The Edict would like to thank Ms. Anuja Kelkar from the Office of International Programs for her support in making this series possible. Ms. Kelkar is the one-woman army at the office who helps Ashokans with the arduous process of applying for and attending summer school. If you wish to attend summer school during your time at Ashoka, it might be best to approach Ms. Kelkar as the first step.

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