A Wonderful Year at Oxford June 25, 2018

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 10/01/2017 to 06/16/2018 with

University of Oxford - Visiting Students

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
In my year away, I became a stronger analytical thinker and critical writer. I gained a lot of confidence in my writing skills as well. Beyond the academic, I definitely became a lot more independent as a person and comfortable being in situations I'm unfamiliar with. Though I didn't end up bonding with many local students, I never felt I was missing out too much because the bonds I made with other visiting students will last a lifetime and I am so grateful for that year away from all things Wellesley.

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.

Courses at Oxford were challenging in just the right ways. As a visiting student, the syllabus for each tutorial could often be adjusted to suit my interests which I really appreciated. It's certainly a different style of teaching than in the US, but I preferred it: much more personal and involved. Tutorials meet once a week for an hour, and in addition you may have weekly lectures to attend as well. Each week you turn in an essay (usually about 2000 words or so) to your tutor on that week's topic, all based on that week's reading list. I found myself looking forward to each tutorial every week, excited to discuss what I'd written about and learned. Tutors range from full professors to graduate students (I had both) but I had great experiences with everyone - your tutors are there to help you learn and to learn from you. Don't be scared of them! Oxford is also a ridiculously wealthy institution so if you ever want a book not on the list and the libraries somehow don't have it already, you can always talk to the librarians and they'll order it in for you.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

My college's administration was very kind and easy to talk to. They were quick to respond to any questions we had and organized a few events for the visiting students to get together and bond. These events were fun and appreciated, however they did not help integrate us in with the matriculated students. There was not much integration between Oxford students and visiting students, but all 20-something visiting students at my college bonded.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Housing very much ranged from building to building (and floor to floor). No two rooms were alike, all stocked with different furniture, different sized and shaped rooms, all with different floors/windows/curtains/walls. Some had sinks and locked storage for vacations, others did not. Still though, they were all singles and were plenty spacious for living in. Bedding can be bought from housekeeping for 60 GBP which you can keep for your time there as long as you store it yourself between terms.

* Food:

The dining hall at my college was quite small and consequently had quite limited offerings. Each meal had two mains (a meat and a vegetable one) as well as several sides. Depending on what you bought, it would amount to about 3 GBP altogether. I quickly started buying my own groceries and cooking for myself and with friends which I found more fun anyway and also cheaper.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There was little to no integration with the Oxford students unless you joined a sport club (most academic societies run lectures and therefore you aren't speaking with fellow members during events). If you're involved in athletics (especially rowing) it should be easier to meet Oxford students, but otherwise it'll be more difficult. Also tutorials are often planned either one-on-one or with fellow visiting students rather than matriculated ones.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

The college nurse was not helpful at all when I fractured a bone, and because it was near the end of term I ended up just waiting a week and a half until I got back to the US to get full medical treatment.

* Safety:

Oxford is a very safe city and I generally didn't ever feel unsafe walking around. I'd say be careful walking alone late at night like you would in any city, but for the most part it's quite safe.

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

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)

Living in Oxford and not traveling at all it's relatively easy to stay on a tight budget if you cook for yourself for every meal and don't plan on going out much. Traveling will of course be expensive during breaks (though you can stay at Oxford during breaks in between terms and Wellesley will pay for that housing!!), but food and personal expenses are about equal to US prices if not slightly cheaper for some things. If you're in Oxford for the full academic year, you may want to consider opening a bank account here to avoid withdrawal fees and foreign exchange rate fees.

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

  • Americans
  • Other
About how many local friends did you make that you will likely keep in touch with? 0

A Look Back

* What did you like most about the program?
  • The tutorials
  • The other visiting students
  • The ability to travel around Europe
* What could be improved?
  • Integration with the University itself
  • Wellesley's preparation for students
  • Transparency from the administration
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? Oxford really is not as difficult as you have built it up in your head to be! If Wellesley is manageable for you, then Oxford certainly will be too. You'll have a blast staying here, so enjoy it while you can!

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!