Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Matthew M. - Oxford, England - Fall 2011

Hello future study abroad students.  My name is Matthew and I am a senior studying abroad in Oxford for the autumn semester.  I am studying at Oxford through The Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies.  CMRS is affiliated with Keble College, where you will have the chance to meet other current students over dinner. 

I arrived in Oxford three weeks ago.  Before departing, I didn’t expect to experience a substantial amount of culture shock.  I was humbled.  Although there are a lot of similarities, there are also plenty of cultural differences between cultures.  The required international education course did help prepare me for culture shock and I found those resources helpful during the first two weeks.  The first week I was homesick and my sleep schedule was messed up.  If you are feeling homesick just remind yourself that you are only here for about three months and it is a once in a lifetime experience culturally and academically. For your information, Skype Is not allowed because of bandwidth issues so I suggest using Gmail video chat in order to keep in contact with your significant other and family members.  

When you first step off the bus in Oxford, you will be in awe of the medieval architecture, fresh markets and countless coffee shops and eateries.  In addition, when you realize the amount of facilities readily available for research (specifically the fantastic Bodleian library!) you will be anxious to begin studying.    If you are enrolled in the autumn semester you start with a mandatory Integral course (if you are signed up for Spring, I think you finish with the Integral course).  Do not panic when you are given the reading list and schedule.  If you plan wisely you will be able to focus your attention on specific topics that you are interested in.  The group field trips to cathedrals and castle’s are really informative and helpful.  My favorite city in England thus far, besides Oxford, is Winchester. 

Academically speaking, it is more rigorous.  But, so far I have found that it is rewarding if you keep up with the work assigned.  The reading list and lectures give you the opportunity to be very independent with your research and reading.  I do not start my tutorial and seminar courses for a few weeks, but I am excited to start soon!  Also, explore Blackwell’s Bookstore, which has a huge selection of books.  Every time I walk in I end up buying a new book. 

I am gradually becoming accustomed with my surroundings and beginning to feel more comfortable studying in Oxford.  It is amazing here and I am excited for what is to come.  If you have any questions concerning whatever you can email me personally at mattrmur@gmail.com.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matthew, thank you for sharing your experience... especailly about Skype and the bookstore. I will set my mom up with Google video before I leave and Blackwell's will probably be one of my fist stops. Safe travels! Kate Kuchler

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be at Oxford in the spring and am wondering if you had any advice. Specifically, how do you extract and transport you money? Credit card or a bank account or something? How is your class workload? How would you suggest I organize myself?
Sure you're having a great time,
--Curtis Durham

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was wondering how you went about choosing your classes. I chose my tutorials based on what could cover one of my required classes. As for the seminar, do you have any suggestions or tips?

-Diana F.

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, what are some good options for doing something in the community? What are good groups/programs to join?

-Diana F.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Matthew Murray said...

In response to to Curtis' question: I am still using my local debit card (bank: West Suburban) to withdraw money from the ATM's here in Oxford. But, different banks take a different percentage due to the money conversion. The tutorials and seminars require a lot of research and writing each week. You are required to write 2 (7-8) page papers a week, plus research, for your tutorials and the seminar is mostly reading and one final paper due before you leave. But, it is very rewarding once you learn how to manage your time appropriately!

Diana: I would choose something you have a passion for or our interested it in, even if it is a slight interest. That's not to say that taking a "random" course could not turn out being really informative. Before you begin your classes you will have the opportunity to sign up for various clubs around Oxford. I joined the Oxford Secular Society and I've been playing at the open mic nights at the pubs.

I hope that briefly cleared up a few questions.

5:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Matthew,

I will be attending CMRS this coming spring term and i was wondering how you've been adjusting? Has anything been a complete culture shock to you?

Also, what is your favorite class so far?

Hope you are having a blast,
Rachel Harley

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Matthew! I was wondering how long the tutorials were each week. Is it just like an independent study meeting at Elmhurst where you talk with the instructor about what your paper will be about the next week? Also, if that is the case, do you need your final bibliography before the meeting, or can you make adjustments?

Kate Kuchler

6:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up. I'll keep those thoughts in consideration. Like Rachel, what more could you say about culture shock?
--Curtis Durham

8:15 AM  

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