Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Katelyn K. - Oxford, England - Spring 2012

Hello future CMRS students! I hope your preparation for your semester abroad is going smoothly. It seems like a lot of details at the time, but I can assure you, it’s worth it. I’ve been in Oxford for a little over a month now and everyday I am still learning something new. That is perhaps the best piece of advice I can give... there is always something new to see, to learn, to experience. Go into this with a very open mind and you will learn so much, not just in your classes but in everything you do.
Classes are quite different here. For the most part, it is self guided learning. For your two tutorials, you are given a topic and a reading list each week and write a 1500-2000 word essay (at least, that was the count for mine, but it could be different) for each tutorial. It sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but with good time management you will be fine. For your seminar, you have a reading list for each week and then turn in a 3000 word essay at the end. Since this is spring term, our integral course will be at the end, but so far we have had discussion and lectures every week. The classes have been amazing. You will learn a lot here, both in coursework and how to improve your essays.
The city itself is gorgeous. We are right at the heart of the commercial district of Oxford so there are plenty of shops, pubs, restaurants, and coffee shops around. Again, time management is key and the administration of CMRS is very concerned with making sure you stay balanced with your time. The Eagle and Child is very cool, probably my favorite pub here so far. There is a McDonalds and two Starbucks within walking distance for the days you want a reminder of home, but honestly, there are so many other little cafes that you can’t get at home that you will want to try. I recommend the Covered Market as a place to find some of those.
That’s all for now. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask, I’m here to help!
-- Kate K.


Anonymous Sylvia Z. said...

Hi my name is Sylvia. I am planning on attending Oxford for my semester abroad next fall and am glad to hear such great things about Oxford. I am very excited about the experience but am worried about the workload. You've made it sound like a lot. I was just wondering, do you get any free time to travel? How much traveling do you get to do in relation to the study time?

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Aimiliane L. said...

Glad to here you are enjoying Oxford! Just wondering how warm it has been there? Has it rained a lot? Also, is it hard travel to London for the day? I am very interested in studying abroad at Oxford next but also wanted to travel to other European cities. Do you feel that you have the weekends to really travel?

10:45 AM  
Anonymous Angela M. said...

Hoping the weather is generally nice for you, or at least warmer than normal Chicago weather for this time of the year. :] I'm mainly wondering how hard it is to travel around London itself, especially if there are a lot of schools around one city. Is there an easy way yo travel from the heart of the city to the outskirts where some of the colleges are?

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Sylvia Z. said...

it's Sylvia again. We've just begun talking about cultural differences and culture shock in our preparatory study abroad class. I like hearing about all the positives about experiencing a new culture but did you experience any stressful culture shock? Did you find yourself dealing with the cultural differences in any specific way?

3:05 PM  
Anonymous Kate K said...

Hello everyone!! So glad to see the excitement for traveling abroad!

@Sylvia: I will not lie, the workload at Oxford takes some adjusting as it's all about time management on your part instead of attending classes. With good time management I don't see why you wouldn't be able to travel on weekends, although I personally waited to travel until the little break between the 2 parts of the semester. Like I said, it's all about making the time work best for you. I went to Wales during the break, but I know people who went to France and Scotland during the break too. A few people traveled during the course, but a lot of us are traveling afterward because the program is done in April for us. I know that's not much help, but unfortunately I think the answer to your question is different for everyone. To answer your other question, I did experience a bit more culture shock than I expected but it did not last long. Use the techniques Alice taught you... they really do help. I think my culture shock was more homesickness and it lasted about a week or so. There are language differences, there are culture differences, it's just a fact of life, but they are easy to adapt to.

@Aimiliane: It actually has been warm and sunny. Right now they are in the middle of a drought and it's really only rained a handful of times since I've been here, which I understand is quite rare. Like I wrote to Sylvia, I didn't really travel on weekends to other countries in Europe since I'm traveling after the program. During Integral course, however, the workload is slightly lighter so I've been making a lot of day trips to London on Saturdays during this time. I don't like trains, so I take the Oxford Tube, which is a nice coach that goes from Oxford to London. For a one day return ticket, at the student rate, it's only 13 pounds. I personally love to do this, and while it's fun to go with friends, it's also fun to go by yourself, I've seen a lot of really cool stuff by myself, and then there's always the day trips where you go by yourself and meet with friends for dinner. You have a lot of options for day trips to London. Email me if you want recommendations of where to go, Alice should have it.

@Angela: Like I said for Aimiliane, the weather has been really nice so far, but that's unusual. Travel around London isn't too bad. I personally walk a lot, but I also made a lot of trips there so time wasn't necessarily an issue. The underground is nice, but a typical subway so it's not fancy or anything. Oh, and watch the doors. When they're closing, they're closing... there's no sensor like in the States. I'm not really sure about visiting the colleges in London since I didn't do that.

That's all for now! If you have any more questions feel free to ask or email me, Alice should have it. I can't promise it will be a swift reply as its getting down to the nitty gritty here... only 12 days left! But I will do my best to respond quickly.


Kate K

4:30 PM  

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