Monday, March 24, 2008

Elizabeth B. - Oxford, England - Spring 2008

I can't believe it's March--the end of March no less! I haven't blogged so much in the past before now because I think I was waiting for some kind of culture shock, but one never came; however, looking back on it all, I have learned from another culture, no doubt about it. It wasn't one big main event of a culture shock...but more of a gradual realization.

At first, arriving at CMRS in Oxford, I was a bit disappointed. (This only lasted a little bit!!) Living dorm style, with 20 some other American students, it was very much an American bubble, and I began to wish I had picked another country and program where I would have been living in a family's home where they spoke a different language.

I now realize, however, that despite living in the little American bubble...there are plenty of opportunities to get out there and really observe, learn and appreciate the British ways. I'm also thankful that I made an effort to get out on my own, without a group of other Americans, to get the best experience. Of course, making new friends here is a huge part of my experience here, but I also have gained from not being connected to the hip to a group. I think studying abroad should be an opportunity to take time for yourself, really think about things and be a little more
independent. Simply taking a walk in Christ Church Meadows early in the morning can be rewarding. I'll never forget when I helped a little old lady cross the street at Abington Road. I've also enjoyed going to a couple of netball practices with the girls from St. Peter's College.

So, that's my little bit of wisdom...wherever you go, take some time for yourself. Don't get stuck in an American bubble.

Another qualm I had at first was how the amount of work and studying I had to do for tutorials and seminar was taking away from time I could have spent traveling more and getting to know the culture. I thought of study abroad experiences other students have had when it sounded like all the did was travel around Europe without a care in the world, and classes were a piece of cake. But really, studying and academics IS the culture of Oxford! On Friday nights when I was with my laptop and books, not going out to the pubs, I told myself this is what I came here for, and I can go out anytime anywhere to bars in the states....but this is the only time I have to study in OXFORD...where so many occurrences and people have been on High Street and Cornmarket, in the Bodleian. Connections to something famous are everywhere. One of these amazing connections has to do with C.S Lewis: Not only is the pub, Eagle and Child, where parts of J.R.R Tolken's and Lewis's works were first read out loud, right on Saint Giles Street (a 10 minute walk from St. Michael's Hall), BUT, also, my tutor, Dr. Lurcock, who I had for Jane Austen; his tutor's tutor was C.S Lewis!! So, I am now like the great grandchild/student of C.S. Lewis!! So, even though I wasn't blessed with easy classes and time to bop about about Europe, I've learned and studied in exceptional place from exceptional people. priceless.

I've learned so much here from my tutors and professors and I'll be able to refer to and go back to it all again and again (at this point, after my Jane Austen tutorial, I seem to find an Austen connection in the craziest ways).

Some other favorite things about my time here is that there's flowers in February! The weather although at times is gloomy, is still milder, and it's just impossible to be down in the dumps when you see daffodils everywhere. Also, I'm going to miss the chip/kabob stands (chips=french fries). On nights when dinner is particularly mysterious, the chip stands are always there...all night.

I've also cought on to the whole Americans are loud stereotype. We are! I've noticed tour around different places that the Americans are always noticeable in a crowd.

I'm quite torn about going home so soon. It will be nice to get back to better food, Target, a car and my friends and family (not in the order of course), but I'm going to miss Oxford a lot. It's such a beautiful little city and I've learned and grown so much here. Nothing back home in the states is like it.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth. My name is Joanna and I will be studying in Oxford this summer through the CMRS program. I am really excited, but also a little nervous to be away from my family and friends.

Besides the course work, what has been the most difficult aspect of your study abroad experience in Oxford?

11:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Joanna!

I'm so glad you've decided to come to CMRS! You're gonna love it! I'm jealous you're going to be here in the summer....there's snow outside my window right now.

The corse work is a bit intimidating, but tutorials only last for the first two months and after getting use to that kind of work load, everything else is a piece of cake!

At this point, with only six days left here, and feeling heartbroken about leaving, it's hard to say what was difficult or unpleasant about my experience in Oxford.

I guess the one thing that had the potential of being difficult was that with all our work for tutorials at times I felt a bit isolated from other people, because I was always with books instead. But, everyone was in the same situation and we manage to have fun anyways. It's just all about learning how to focus. Just keep reminding yourself that part of the reason why you came here was to studying in Oxford. Be sure to balance out your time though between fun and work, and you'll be ok.

And yes, being away from family and friends is hard sometimes. I remember my first night here I felt tears coming on, but I stopped them. I turned being sad about missing my friends and family into feeling lucky that I have them waiting for me at home.

For me, nothing has been difficult enough to ever have made me wish I hadn't come to Oxford.

Please let me know if you have any other question:)

4:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Liz,
I'm glad to see you're having a nice time. I'm Jason. I'm a frshman here, taking Preparing for International Education. I'm working on Japan, but Oxford or anywhere in England is one of my targets as well. I'm with you. I want to try this to see what it does to me and to get more experience so I can become more independent. Have fun on the rest of your trip.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know you talked a little about how your classes, but I have a question about registering. Did you get to pick and register for your classes before you left or when you got there? And is it a similar process to us, where it's open registration and when the class is full than you have to find another one, or is it different? Thanks!

Anna Cramer

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Dianne Heller said...

I will be studying in England in the fall, and we are talking about culture shock in our class right now. Did you experience culture shock while at Oxford? If so, what your experience like?

12:24 PM  
Blogger Kevin Lepore said...

Hi Elizabeth,

I'll be studying at Oxford this spring. You said studying and academics is the culture of Oxford; are there a lot of things to do within the city that enrich the learning experience? museums, libraries etc. What are some of your favorite things about the city?

10:55 PM  

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