Oxford: A home away from home. June 28, 2017

By (History, Brandeis University) - abroad from 10/02/2017 to 06/16/2017 with

Hertford College, University of Oxford - Visiting Students Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
My year abroad was beyond worthwhile. I gained a sense of individual accomplishment, growth, and pride in my academic work due to the tutorial system. I also learned how to have a more balanced social life with my work since your weekly schedule is largely self-organized. With such a flexible schedule I was able to open my schedule to social events while also learning how to best spend my time to complete weekly/bi-weekly essays.

Review Photos

Hertford College, University of Oxford - Visiting Students Program Photo Hertford College, University of Oxford - Visiting Students Program Photo Hertford College, University of Oxford - Visiting Students Program Photo Hertford College, University of Oxford - Visiting Students Program Photo Hertford College, University of Oxford - Visiting Students Program Photo

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 1 month - 6 months

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The tutorial system at Oxford allows students to fully immerse themselves with their subject of interest. It not only requires that you learn the integral balance between between research, thinking, and writing but that you are then able to further articulate your understanding to professionals in the field. Each student has the flexibility to experiment with their learning and ideas, while also being forced to organize themselves in order to complete the weeks' work. Furthermore, the library system at Oxford means that nearly every resource is open to you throughout the day; it is one of the best cities to study in the world.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The administration at Hertford were very helpful throughout the year in making sure we were comfortable while also ensuring we were making use of all the potential and resources surrounding us. They were very understanding and willing to help students with any anxieties or worries they had. Furthermore, they had wonderful programming throughout the year which allowed all the Visiting Students to regroup and relax.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Visiting Students either lived in the Graduate Center or housing in north Oxford; both are almost exactly 15 minutes away from Hertford. While the Graduate Center is close to the river and Christ Church Meadow, the housing in north Oxford is located to a very nice part of town, with a variety of restaurants close by and Port Meadow. Both had their own perks, with the Graduate Center (where I lived) having printing and en-suites. Everyone was very happy where they were housed, and both are a convenient distance from city center.

* Food:

Though hall food tended to be a hit or miss, the food at Warnock (close to the Graduate Center) predominantly served good food for dinner. On the other hand, there are various supermarkets close by (where ingredients are cheap) . Though restaurants may be a bit too expensive for daily use, there are a variety of food trucks around the city as well. Overall, the food was on-par with on-campus dining at other colleges and there are various other options around the city if a particular meal doesn't suite you in hall.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

After the first term, Oxford quickly felt like home. The city is predominantly filled with students and it is quite easy to find others who have similar interests to you, whether on a college or university level. There are clubs and societies to fit nearly any interest filled with students from all around the world. With Hertford being a smaller and friendly college it is easy to immediately feel integrated into the local culture.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I had little experience with health-related issues, though I know the college nurse was very helpful when anyone wanted advice. We were issued a doctor at the beginning of the program, right in the center of town as well, in case we should need one.

* Safety:

The city of Oxford always felt very safe to me. I walked home in early-morning hours multiple times and never felt in any danger whatsoever. As in any city, it is always best to walk home with a friend and/or to stay alert as you walk at night, however, I never felt unsafe. However, if you plan to ride a bike I suggest you get a feel of the city beforehand and wear a helmet. Oxford is filled with bicyclists, however, with the small roads and large buses it is important to be wary--Oxford is a very walkable city anyway.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes

Studying at Oxford University (especially at such a close-knit college as Hertford) allowed me to grow both intellectually and socially. There are few cities like Oxford where you are surrounded by both studiousness, youthfulness, and history. The unique academic structure (the tutorial system) forces you to grow as a writer, researcher, oral communicator and, most importantly, as a thinker. Not only does the intellectual rigor force you to gain a unique understanding of yourself as an academic, but the relationship between college, university, and city allows you to socially thrive. You can easily meet people with similar interests, whether in academic societies or sports clubs, from all around the world. There are few study abroad programs where academic rigor is matched by a friendly, beautiful city and unparalleled extracurricular opportunities.

Finances

* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

In terms of food, a week could be very cheap or slightly more expensive depending on how many meals you choose to eat in hall/Warnock. While my weekly expenses was generally fairly easy there are a variety of other costs throughout the year which may take up a chunk of your budget such as balls, society/club membership, and other local events. If you plan out your weekly expenses well then these other luxuries will be well worth it, though there are many free activities to enjoy in Oxford as well (such as lectures, museums, and a variety of public spaces, such as the meadows). Therefore, the costs will fluctuate depending on your preferences.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • Americans
  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students
  • International Students
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with?

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The academic rigor or the tutorial system
  • The close-knit atmosphere of Hertford college and the city itself
  • The extracurricular opportunities on a University level/city, such as the Oxford Union, balls, and other events throughout the year (on a city level: the Christmas market, museums, etc)
* What could be improved?
  • Plan more Visiting Student dinners/teas/events during Hilary term
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? While I felt prepared for Oxford before I arrived, I wish I knew to be less anxious about the tutorial system. Though in writing it seems intimidating (at least to the American eye) it is very doable as long as you are a committed student and passionate in your subject. Though, of course, Oxford is academically rigorous it is not unattainable to those who are willing to work hard.

Reasons For Studying Abroad

To help future students find programs attended by like-minded individuals, please choose the profile that most closely represents you.
The Academic or Linguist
You went abroad with specific academic goals in mind; the program credentials and rigor of your coursework abroad were very important to you. You had a great time abroad, but never lost sight of your studies and (if applicable) were diligent with your foreign language study. Good for you!