Oxford is the best place to Study Abroad Past Review

By (HISTORY., Tufts University) for

IFSA: Oxford - Oxford University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was the greatest year of my life, which I know is a cliche, but it's completely true. I made amazing friends, grew tremendously as a student, and it reinforced my desire to continue on my current career path. Oxford will teach you to become a different kind of student, and one that you really can't become at an American university. The level of sophistication and self-motivation you're expected to possess is daunting at first, but as you get used to it, and especially after you come back, you wonder how you existed without it. Oxford is very foreign, even though you're not speaking another language!

Personal Information

The term and year this program took place: Full-Year 2008

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The resources that Oxford has to offer were far and away the best part of studying British history abroad. You work with the most well-trained, insightful professors and have access to every UK-published book and countless primary source material. Plus, you're basically living history in the city and its university!

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

I would give Butler a 3, but Elisabeth Dutton, the Junior Year Abroad coordinator for Worcester, was by far the greatest asset of this program. She was welcoming, helpful, and truly cared about our well-being and success. She was also the tutor for many of the students studying English, so she was their academic and well as social go-to person. I experienced not weaknesses on her part, when I wanted to change tutorial topics she made it happen. She meets with each tutor she is thinking of assigning to a visiting student beforehand to make sure they are capable, that's how much she cared about our academic experience. She was both a great friend and resource, and my year would've been completely different without her.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Technically I lived in the dorms for the whole year, but a housing crunch for the spring and summer terms meant I actually lived in a house adjoining the college with two other Americans. This was a great situation, but a unique one. Most people will live in the dorms the whole time. If you're interested in Oxford, look at the differences from college to college. Worcester is really good about guaranteeing that its American students live with British students in college. Other colleges might have you living with British students, but it could be very far from the actual college. <br /><br /> Both living arrangements were great. The single I was in for the fall term had its own bathroom, and was about three times the size of a double at a U.S. university. The house I lived in the last two terms was well-equipped, and it was built into the college walls, so I had no problem with getting to social events. Worcester has one of the best locations of any Oxford college - close to public transportation to London and the UK and to clubs, pubs and museums in the city, as well as the hip neighborhood of Jericho. Best of all, it's not on tourists' radars, unlike the really old and central colleges.

* Food:

When I lived in a house, we cooked 4-5 times a week, and the rest we ate at Worcester formal hall. Worcester has some of the best food in Oxford, they do a formal hall six nights a week (a rarity), which means you dress up, get a delicious three course meal served to you, and all for 2 pounds! Best deal in the city, in my opinion. They were good about vegetarians, I can't say the same for vegans. Worcester is also close to Sainsbury's supermarket, and on Wednesdays the super-cheap Gloucester Green Market it literally 30 seconds from the college gates. We bought most of our produce at the market.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

I was able to see so much theatre both in Oxford and London, and the UK is amazing about making cheap tickets available to students/whoever is an early riser! There was also great art in Oxford and London, which was perfect for a student of art history. Nightlife can get very expensive, but a lot of places are good about giving student deals or "early bird specials." Talk to British students and learn how to go out and have fun without paying a lot. The London weekend organized by Butler was not the greatest, but I went to the city so much on my own that it didn't matter in the long run. Also, the UK day trips the program arranges are hard for anyone studying outside of London, because you have to get yourself into the city, which can be expensive depending on where you're coming from.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

* Safety:

Oxford is a really safe city, but it is a city and can't be treated the same way as a secluded American university campus. The porters and guards at all the colleges and university buildings make you feel very secure, almost annoyingly-so! The one experience I had with the healthcare system was the day before I was set to fly back to the U.S., when I got an earache. I made an appointment at the medical practice affiliated with Worcester for that afternoon, and the total time spent in the office, walking to the pharmacy and picking up by prescription could not have exceeded 20 minutes. The program was also technically over, so they could have been strict about that, but they were completely understanding. I know people may complain about the NHS, but I thought it was great!

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? No


* 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)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? 30 pounds
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? The UK is expensive, but if you don't eat out all the time, don't go clubbing every night, and don't buy new clothes you should be alright. I traveled extensively between terms, and those were the times when my living expenses got to be an issue.

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

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A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you want to come to Oxford through IFSA-Butler, apply to Worcester! I am biased, but it's really the best college of the ones Butler works with. Elisabeth Dutton is the greatest RD ever, and the college has an amazing tradition of welcoming American students and making them feel like they are truly part of the college. Plus where else can you go to two black tie dinners in the Provost's lodgings and end the year with a 12-hour white tie ball?