The Oxford Experience: Great, with some caveats January 05, 2019

By (Wellesley College) - abroad from 09/03/2018 to 11/30/2018 with

Worcester College, Oxford University - Visiting Students Program

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
It was definitely worthwhile. I've made a few friends abroad, had the opportunity to travel to four other countries, and made more Wellesley friendships I intend to continue fostering at my home institution. My experience was too short to be completely immersive—I wish I had the option to extend it for one more term (rather than the two terms in the spring), or the option to be at Oxford only in the spring. However, my classmates and I did manage to make the most out of three months.

Review Photos

Worcester College, Oxford University - Visiting Students Program Photo Worcester College, Oxford University - Visiting Students Program Photo Worcester College, Oxford University - Visiting Students Program Photo Worcester College, Oxford University - 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 workload was rigorous, but not as rigorous as I have experienced at my home institution. What made it difficult was not the number of essays we had to write, but the extremely high standards of one of my tutors (who I understand is not representative of the other tutors that my classmates had).

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

While we were intended to figure things out for ourselves at Oxford, the study abroad students should have received more support from the program supervisors. For instance, we did not know how the dining hall services worked—when we could eat, what we could have, how much it cost—until a few weeks in to the program.

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Where I lived (Canal Building) was excellent. My only complaint is that my neighbors were loud at late hours sometimes.

* Food:

The food quality was good, and the price was reasonable.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

Although I had the chance to meet many British students, I was mostly surrounded by Americans who were also studying abroad. My entire hall in my building was occupied by Americans. I think there should be more of an effort to mix American students with their British counterparts in terms of living spaces, as it is important for social interactions.

* Health Care:

How well were health issues addressed during the program?

I needed one of the Hepatitis vaccines for the program, which I received at my home institution before I left the US. I got sick with a cold twice during my 3 months in the UK, which significantly affected my study abroad experience. I must have been sick for a month or so. The only thing that made the cold bearable was the other American students caught colds as well, so we could empathize with one another. It seems like a trivial thing, but being sick for nearly a month during and a month after studying abroad really affected how I perceived my experience.

* Safety:

I felt pretty safe at Worcester. I liked that it was a cozy and small environment. Since I got to know (or at least know of) everyone pretty quickly, I didn't feel unsafe walking around, even at odd hours of the night. London was another matter—my friend and I were verbally harassed by passersby at night—but to be fair the program is not in London. I'd just recommend that students be careful in big cities, and not carry around large amounts of cash.

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

While the academics were rough and one of my tutors was harsh (in my opinion, unduly so), I had a good overall experience and made a lot of lasting friendships.

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 at Oxford was not as costly as I expected it to be. I and other Wellesley students mostly shopped at Tesco and Sainsbury's for food, which was affordable. Dining hall food was also subsidized and affordable. The only unaffordable part of Oxford was the social events, which could cost over a hundred pounds (particularly joining the Oxford Union), making them inaccessible.

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? Around 30 pounds a week for food
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? Cook for yourself. It's more convenient than having to stick to a dining hall schedule, plus you'll save money. Also, traveling on budget airlines can get rough, but it's worth the travel experience. If you're in England, sign up for the National Express youth card so you can use the bus for 30% off and get other discounts. Some SIM card companies also get you discounts and free stuff. Don't feel obligated to do things that may be too expensive (e.g. balls and other events), even if your friends are going. There's plenty to do in a foreign country that doesn't involve spending money.

Language

* Did your program have a foreign language component? No

Direct Enrollment/Exchange

* Did you study abroad through an exchange program or did you directly enroll in the foreign university? Exchange

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • Americans
* 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?
  • Academics (learning about Brexit while in the UK)
  • Opportunity to travel to other European countries
  • Having new experiences (joining rowing)
* What could be improved?
  • Supervision (tours of the college(s), advance notice about how food works, etc.)
  • More off-campus guided trips (the Cotswolds tour was great!)
  • More opportunities for interactions with Oxford students
* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? I wish I knew I wanted to be an English major so that I could have tutorials about English literature. Oxford's one of the best places to study the subject. My politics tutorials were great, but I couldn't help being jealous of the wide range of nuanced topics taught by literature tutors (as I was told by English major friends).

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!