Hopefully going back one day! November 14, 2017

By (Sewanee: The University of the South) - abroad from 01/09/2017 to 06/17/2017 with

IFSA: Oxford - England Study Abroad Program at St Edmund Hall

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Outside of the classroom, I learned to step outside of my comfort zone and do a lot of exploring on my own. I learned to be comfortable being on my own when I needed it, but I also learned how to effectively reach out to people and build friendships, a skill which most people lose sight of after their freshman year at uni. It was worth every moment, even if I was slaving over a new essay or struggling to get together a presentation.

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? None

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

As an institution, Oxford is known for its rigor -- but also the immense learning that can occur there. My time at Oxford was well-spent in many libraries, writing essays and learning the material, but it was also spent getting to know my fellow students and the rich history of the institution. I loved my time there, and loved the education so much that I hope to one day return for a higher degree.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

IFSA-Butler was incredible about having an advisor who visited Oxford frequently. During the time I studied, my advisor was Andrew Williams, who was a fantastic mentor, listener, and lover of cakes/baked goods! He was a great person to have around and really made me feel like IFSA was invested in my experience in Oxford.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

I had a nice room -- it was a single, with a hall bath and a shared kitchen. It was in the basement, so I never got to open my windows, but overall it was a nice facility. However, St Edmund Hall puts all of its international students (typically) in two buildings, so I was surrounded primarily by other Americans studying abroad. I wish that I had been able to live with current British (or just non-visiting) Oxford students.

* Food:

St Edmund Hall provided a certain number of dinner meals to be consumed, and we had a good enough kitchen that food wasn't difficult to figure out. The best things were our Formal Halls, where students got together and we dined in a fancy setting together; there were two a week and it was always nice to try and go to one at least every other week.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

On my own, I didn't feel particularly integrated; however, after a few weeks in Oxford, I decided to join a sports team, and it totally changed my experience. I still felt a little bit isolated from the overall Oxford student body, but I really got to know and spend a lot of time with the girls on the sports team with me.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I did not have any specific medical needs while I was abroad, but I can say that access (and cheap access) to OTC medications such as painkillers or allergy medications is really accessible via pharmacies like Boots and Superdrug.

* Safety:

Oxford feels like -- and is -- a safe city. Even when things were not great in London, Oxford very rarely felt impacted by those outside events. There are, however, a few places that feel a little bit less safe than others during the night; Cornmarket Street, and the further reaches of the Cowley area, are not great places to be alone when it's dark out. You'll be fine as long as you're with friends, but there were a few times when I was walking back from either a restaurant or a library or the train station late at night that didn't feel 100% safe.

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

I would most definitely go to Oxford again. I might consider trying a different college, just because they are all so unique, but Oxford itself is a wonderful and immense learning institution.

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)

All of England is an expensive place. Because I was prepared for it, I didn't find it to be particularly bothersome, but I had friends who weren't ready for how much a meal out or a cup of coffee was going to cost them. Groceries, however, can be cheap if you know what to buy!

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $75
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Make a budget before you go, but leave a little bit of wiggle room. Don't make it so tight that if bumps in the road (e.g. you rip your rain jacket), you won't be able to deal with them without panicking. Also, know how to cook and what to cook before you go! Buying the right groceries that are cost-effective and nutritious will really help ease any financial burden.

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

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

Select all that apply

  • Other
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?
  • Academic rigor
  • City setting
  • Rich history
* What could be improved?
  • Affordability
  • Integration of Visiting Students with Others
  • Academic preparation
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish that I had known more about the Oxford tutorial system before I went abroad. I had a very vague idea about what it was, but I didn't fully get a grasp on it until I had already gone through a few tutorials.

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!