By Emily Klingman
Sean Cackoski never thought he would study abroad and put on his own show in London, but in the 2014 spring semester that’s exactly what he did.
“It became important. It wasn’t the first thought on my mind when I came to Rider, but as I was working with the theater and faculty I realized that I really wanted to have that opportunity,” said Cackoski.
Culture shock was one of Cackoski’s biggest hurdles in his acclimation to London. He had to accept that he couldn’t go on living exactly the way he was used to here in America.
“There’s sort of this maturing process that happens when you have to go and adapt to the different culture,” said Cackoski. “I remember the first night I was literally looking for Tupperware and had a breakdown because I didn’t know where in London you get Tupperware!”
While Cackoski was studying in London, he also did an internship at a local theater located in the West End theater district. According to Kim Cameron, assistant director of the Center for International Education (CIE), students who take on an internship abroad show future employers that they have global experience and are willing to work with different cultures and peoples.
“One example is we had a communication major studying and interning in London at ESPN and he was offered a full-time job upon graduation,” said Cameron.
Cackoski was the dance captain, and made sure the show’s choreography was learned and maintained throughout the rehearsals. Since the show was in a small fringe theater, Cackoski shared some of the role of the stage manager. He helped the actors with their lines, positioned props in rehearsals, and moved the show into the theater.
“It was cool, I was really taking on responsibility for the show,” he said. “It was a little like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve never done this before, like at all.’’’
For Rider students, it is not uncommon to go abroad to do an internship while attending classes. Cameron advises students who wish to intern and study to expect similarities to American internships.
“They should expect to receive anywhere from 3-6 credits,” said Cameron. “Most students work between 10-20 hours per week. They will also need to pay for a working visa, which could be costly.”
Since the show only lasted a month, Cackoski also received a research grant, allowing him to put on a show of his own. He was able to attend a separate school for miming.
“I learned this mime technique and put on an hour-long show of material I had created, and some other material. I had about four weeks to just focus on my show,” Cackoski said.
Cackoski’s favorite part of being in England was exploring the regions surrounding the London area, and going on small trips to the main continent of Europe.
“After my classes and internship, a lot of the time I had a day until 4 p.m. to explore. I would go to Brighton, York, Stratford-upon-Avon and just soak in what was there,” he said.
One habit Cackoski took back home with him was the tendency to be more aware of his surroundings. Some of his best memories are ones where he would just sit in a park, eat lunch and watch the people walk by.
“It opens you up to being more present,” he said. “You go to a city that is so rooted in history and you see where the Great Fire (of London) started and then St. Paul’s Cathedral and all these places.”
Cackoski’s time abroad has helped him expand where he sees his future paths heading. Now he is considering going back for his graduate degree and other programs to study acting.
“Before they were just ideas. Like, ‘Ha ha, what if I did this?’ But now it’s like, ‘I could do this.’ It’s a real possibility,” he said.
“Now I feel like I’ve been there, I know what it’s like, and I can go back and try again. I know the process.”
printed in the 9/24/14 edition.