Being part of the ‘University of London External system’ studying a BA in English, as students it is obvious that we don’t gather to lead college; Goldsmiths and see each other on daily basis. The External System as three words just means being ‘on the outside’, but as students and people, we are international on all sides. We are all working very much from within, and as we are learning the same tenses, purposes, and modules, with other students of literature, we naturally come from within the international community – this is an obvious fact.
The international name should not make studying English Literature any different, as its students live within their ‘international’ hemispheres anyway. As an international student, I am already connecting with a wealth of ‘internationalism’, that I can learn so much from. I have had the opportunity to find out more about where my fellow ‘international’ players come from, and why learning English Literature is also important to them.
As a native Brit who has lived most of her life abroad, I have developed a strong empathy with fellow foreign students who are also studying Literature (internationally). I have received emails full of brilliant notes on Shakespeare and Jonson, from the Czech Republic, had good wishes and prayers sent by another student from Cameroon. I have learned about the struggles of a colleague and now graduate from Kazakhstan, who inspired me by her story of getting to her exams, (having to travel for days to get to her examination hall).
She told me of her recent adventures in Turkey, recounting how she had to smack a taxi driver about his head with her handbag, as he nearly fell asleep at the wheel of his car. She was on her way to a Greek theatre, (Aspendos Arena), to witness the dance show ‘Fires of Anatolia’.
Inspired I have been, by the warmth and generous support of fellow students whom in the final hour of a VLE seminar I found out my father had developed lung cancer. As shocked as I was, I was seriously encouraged to battle on with my examination process, (being weeks away), by fellow students and friends from the US, Malta, Japan, Singapore, and Czech Republic.
In this respect I believe the re-naming of external to international no big deal. Personally, it makes sense as the love of English Literature naturally gathers in an international forum which speaks for itself. With that said, it should not fail to also be a natural place to find others globally evolving with others. As people, we are external in body, but internally we are in ‘mind’. How we respond to our studies, fellow students, or how we view ourselves as individuals in the international arena, and with what spirit we choose to do this with, is up to us.