In 1986, an ambitious graduate student named John Christian traveled from his home city of Troy, New York to England where he would complete a master’s degree at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
During this time, he was also the Executive Director of the SUNY Oswego London Center - an experience which would soon lead to the development of CAPA The Global Education Network’s first study abroad location: London.
It has now been 30 years since CAPA London opened its doors.
As we celebrate our anniversary this year, John Christian is still President and CEO, continually guiding us to push boundaries in all areas of the study abroad experience, from academics to technology to diversity and beyond.
CAPA offers study abroad programs in seven global cities around the world. London was the perfect starting point for us and remains one of CAPA’s most popular locations.
Students love London. The transition to another country from a US comfort zone is a comparatively gentle one where life is still navigated in English, yet there are still enough cultural differences to provide a challenge. Students grapple with small linguistic nuances like “lift” instead of “elevator” and “trousers” instead of “pants” along with slight differences in spelling certain words and unspoken cultural norms like queuing, standing on the right side of an escalator and respecting the silence on the tube.
Gerrard's Corner in London Chinatown
London is a global city bursting with opportunities to learn about our diverse world. Students will taste the food of many different countries, begin to understand some traditions of cultures they haven’t encountered before, listen to a multitude of languages spoken around them, and become adept at navigating big city life while able to rely on local staff to guide them.
With three of the top 10 museums and galleries in the world, 857 art galleries and 170 museums total (most of them free), 786 movie screens, 200 West End theatre shows, 300 music venues, 250 annual festivals, 800 bookshops, four UNESCO heritage sites and more live comedy than any other city in the world, it’s safe to say students are never bored here.
When CAPA London launched, internships soon became an important (optional) layer to the program, opening professional doors for students who choose to challenge themselves in this way. Local connections quickly grew; the internships team currently places students in 50 different fields and industries in London alone with around more than 1,100 partner sites in the city. Most CAPA London students now collaborate with and learn from Londoners in this powerful, world-class city, expand their professional network overseas, gain an international perspective in their field and an appreciation for diverse working cultures and practices in a global city.
Later, My Global Cities was developed to encourage cultural exploration outside of the classroom. Students take field trips with their classes as well, but My Global Cities offers a separate schedule of (optional) excursions around the city, led by staff. These include enjoying a curry on the street-art filled Brick Lane with its Huguenot roots and mix of Bangladeshi and Hipster cultures; taking a boat trip down the Thames River to Greenwich to discover the Royal Observatory and local market neighborhood; and eating their way through the delicious stalls of 1,000-year-old Borough Market.
Over the last 30 years, academics have become more refined and rigorous through guidance from our Academic Advisory Board and the exceptional relationships we’ve maintained with our Schools of Record. Classes run in strict adherence to the Forum on Education Abroad’s Standards of Good Practice and we’ve successfully completed the Forum on Education Abroad Quality Improvement Program, demonstrating our commitment to the integrity of our programs as we create impactful academic experiences. In other words, studying abroad still means serious academics.
The British National Gallery
Students now have innovative globally networked technology available that gives them the opportunity to collaborate on variety of projects across cultures with their colleagues in other CAPA cities.
In recent changes, CAPA London has also recently rolled out the first of our “Mind, Body, and Well-being” series to support students as they aim to maintain a healthy lifestyle while abroad.
Affordable fruits and veggies at Borough Market
As in CAPA’s programs across all cities, the complete London experience is guided by Student Learning and Development Outcomes (or SLDOs) that thread through everything students do while abroad: globalization, urban environments, social dynamics, diversity and personal and professional development.
CAPA London has also benefited from our Diversity Advocates Program, which fosters in-creased student diversity and provide all participants with the opportunity to explore, challenge and redefine their identities in distinct ways.
All CAPA students receive tube passes to get the anywhere in Zones 1-2
We look forward to the journey of continuing to refine the CAPA London experience even more over the next 30 years and beyond.