About 11% of American college students study abroad, and even fewer partake in internships abroad. Esmeralda “Esme” Liz ’20 has joined the short list of students doing both.

Liz, studying during winter term at Lawrence’s London Centre, is taking part in a London internship focused on using the arts in the treatment of mental health. 

“I wanted to experience how to interact with different types of people,” Liz said of pursuing the internship abroad. “The way mental health might be approached in America may be different to the way it is in Europe. And I wanted to see how I can learn some of those things and bring it back.”  

More on study abroad: Financial aid changes clear hurdles at Lawrence. 

Liz is a psychology and studio art double major from New York — and a Posse Foundation scholar — who became fascinated by the possibilities of art therapy.  

“I took studio art spring term of my senior year in high school,” Liz said. “I took it because it was one of my general requirements, but it became the only class I would look forward to, so I was like, I guess this is what it’s supposed to feel like going into your major. Psychology was my back-up plan. … Then I was in PPR (Posse Plus Retreat), and I had a dyad with a woman named Katherine. She was telling me about how one of her friends was an art therapist, and I was like, ‘What is that?’ She told me she felt this was something I should look into because you’re doing psychology and art. Then I looked into it and was, ‘Oh, this seems like fun.’”

Finding connections

Liz’s professors at Lawrence encouraged her to continue to explore the art therapy options. She soon realized having hands-on experiences would be important to understanding what the field might entail.

“It’s giving me a preview of what I plan on doing,” Liz said of the London internship at Core Arts. “I feel like this placement allows me to be hands-on and see what it’s like to both work with art and mental health.” 

Core Arts is a nonprofit organization that focuses on promoting positive mental health and wellbeing through the arts.  

“Core Arts is an art therapy facility that focuses on mental health without speaking about,” Liz said.

The art therapist bonds with the participants through art, and consults with psychologists and counselors as needed.

“A lot of (the art therapists) get back to the counselors with things that they notice, but they don’t specifically talk to the people about their mental health; they just talk to them as artists.” 

Winter term abroad is not Liz’s first time in London. She was able to explore England and other parts of the region in late 2019 through her Senior Experience capstone. 

“Before we went on break for the winter, I made a proposal to the art department to do research while on break for my capstone,” Liz said. “It got approved, and I went around to a lot of the art capitals of the world, places like France, Italy, Spain, and London. While we were traveling, me and another studio art major, we were going to museums, talking to local artists, and collecting information for our capstones.”  

Tips on studying abroad

We asked Liz for a few tips on being a student abroad: 

1: Try to get a card with low or no foreign transaction fees.  

2: When in London, look right when crossing the street.

3: Bring spare luggage. You will buy things.  

Esmeralda Liz

Class Year: 2020

Major: Psychology and Studio Art

Hometown: New York

Activities: Art Therapy