Aashika Suseendran ’15, a Psychology major participating in Arcadia’s First Year Study Abroad Experience (FYSAE) at Stirling University in Scotland, acted alongside Stirling University’s Drama Society (SUDS) in a production of The Admirable Crichton, a stage play by J.M. Barrie, in March.
Suseendran played Miss Fisher, a lady maid, and worked along with fellow first-year student Alana Crater ’15, who assumed the lead role of Lady Mary. The play takes place in 20th century England, so all 18 cast members were expected to assume British accents. In addition to learning the local drawl, Suseendran made discoveries about British history, culture and controversy.
“[The play centers on] Crichton, a butler who accompanies Lord Loam, the head of the household, and his daughters on a voyage at sea. When they get stranded on an island, a role reversal leaves class distinctions ‘for nature to decide,’ and Crichton—the most capable—assumes the role of head,” Suseendran explains. “The Admirable Crichton revolves around serious class issues that were very controversial at the time of the play’s debut; in fact, the author wanted to end the play with Crichton and Loam’s daughter, Lady Mary, pursuing the relationship that had blossomed on the island, but he did not, for fear that his aristocratic English audiences would not be able to handle it.
“Our rendition of the play went on three weeks ago, and over the course of the two weeks of thorough rehearsals, we all learned more about class boundaries than we had ever encountered before. Often, learning through media, theater or literature can be just as rewarding as personal experiences. I had a wonderful time with the rest of the cast, and we really bonded over the touching moments of the play, as well as the comic nuances.”
As a lover of people and places, Suseendran notes that some of the most rewarding aspects of her study abroad experience have been the new connections she’s made with local residents and the scenic historical sites such as Doune Castle, a medieval fortress built by the Duke of Albany, made famous in pop culture as the home of Monty Python’s holy grail.
"From engaging in Stirling University’s student life to mountain biking in the Munros of the Scottish highlands, I find myself continually surprised by the exhilarating ‘firsts’ and the many adventures inherentin study abroad," says Suseendran. "It's a new-found independence, during my very first year of college—and I couldn't have dreamt another way of beginning the journey."