A Semester of Growth and Community January 03, 2018

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/03/2017 to 12/02/2017 with

Oxford Study Abroad Programme (OSAP): Oxford - Study Abroad at Oxford University

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
I learned that Oxford is an atypical study abroad experience. If you want to travel to 10 different countries during the semester, then this probably isn't the place to be. However, if you want to integrate into a new community and embrace all of the resources available to you, then Oxford is the perfect university to attend. Make sure to talk to students in your living corridor (especially the local, full-time ones!) and join some kind of society. While academics are an important and unique part of Oxford, remember that you're also studying abroad for the cultural immersion, so go outside and explore!

Personal Information

How much international exposure did you have prior to this program? 6 months+

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

The tutorial system was an interesting experience. While you have a lot of independence to structure your own schedule and learn at your own pace, it's totally different than anything in the United States. Essentially, you teach yourself before each class. One of my tutorials had no lectures, so I was completely on my own (i.e. I didn't have peers to talk to, a general book to reference, etc.). There was definitely a lot of frustration, especially days before an essay or problem set was due, but I think it was nice to get exposure to this way of learning. I don't think I would do it again, partly because I didn't enjoy my tutorials as much as I had hoped, but I appreciated all of the sessions I had with my tutors.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

It was great! I studied at Worcester College and loved everyone, from the Director of the Visiting Students Programme to the porters at the main entrance. Whenever I had administrative concerns, I could find someone to address them promptly.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Worcester College is amazing because you live with full-time students rather than being placed in a corridor with only visiting students. I had a beautiful room (which had a private bathroom, giant desk, two windows, etc.) and a large kitchen just across the hall. A scout emptied my trash once every other day and vacuumed my room once a week.

* Food:

Worcester College's dining hall was being renovated this term, so all meals were moved to a small conference room. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were always provided, and there was also a small snack bar that served sandwiches, drinks, and more. The food was decent; it was pay-as-you-go unlike my home college's meal plan where we get unlimited meals by paying a flat fee in the beginning of the year. People serve you at each meal, and you're not allowed to get seconds. This mostly isn't an issue, though, because they give you a good amount. At dinner, dessert is also served.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

The community was incredibly accepting, but I definitely think you have to put yourself out there. If you're someone who's more asocial, it may be difficult to easily connect with full-time students. I suggest joining university-wide societies, college-specific sports, or simply hanging around in your dorm kitchen.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I didn't personally have any exposure to health care. I understand there was a nurse onsite during certain days, though.

* Safety:

I thought Oxford was incredibly safe. I didn't feel uncomfortable at any time. I never heard of any safety-related incidents. When I went out late at night (e.g. 2 to 3am), I mostly stayed with friends, so just use good judgment and you should be fine. Worcester College was also closer to the center of the city, so I'm unsure if colleges farther away were less safe since they were in more remote locations.

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

I loved Worcester College and all of the people I met. While I wasn't the biggest fan of Oxford's academics, I definitely appreciate the friends I made, the societies I joined, and the overall growth I experienced.

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)

Since Oxford has a pay-as-you-go meal plan, I basically chose to go into the city to buy food at restaurants or grocery stores instead of sitting in the dining hall. It was my personal choice. If you want to only eat in your college, though, then the meals should be relatively affordable. I don't think you should be paying more than $15/day.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? $100-$200
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? - Buy 3 pound meal deals at Sainsbury or Tesco (this includes a sandwich, drink, and snack) - Borrow pots and pans from your neighbors (or buy your own) to cook your own meals in your dorm kitchen - Buy tickets for clubs in advance rather than the night of (this could be a difference of 5 or more pounds) - Pick which club you're going to for the night based on the deals they have for drinks at the bar (e.g. one club may have 1 pound shots but another may have 5 pound shots; this also depends on the day of the week) - If you bring USD, hoping to convert your money in the U.K., wait to do so at Oxford and not in an airport

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
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local 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?
  • Friendliness of local, full-time students
  • Social scene
  • Societies
* What could be improved?
  • More bonding events among visiting students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I went for both September Seminar in the Humanities (a special program just for visiting students at Worcester and Hertford College) and Michaelmas term. I wish I knew that September Seminar wouldn't define my Oxford experience, because once full-time students arrived in October, the atmosphere immediately changed. When you're only surrounded by American students studying literature, though being taught by Oxford professors, you don't truly experience Oxford academics and social life. Wait until everyone arrives on campus before making a judgment about how you'll enjoy your time abroad.

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 Networker
An active student leader, it was important for you to network abroad as well. Once overseas, you sought out student clubs, volunteered with local organizations, or attended community events. You encouraged your friends join you, and often considered how you could reflect your international experiences in a resume.