Monday, September 29, 2014

Jennifer G - Oxford, England - Fall 2014

What to say about Oxford in just one post? Extraordinary. I have been in Oxford for just over three weeks and I feel as if I have learned and experienced so much. In this short time here I have been able to travel and see Bath, Wells Cathedral, Glastonbury Abbey, Hampton Court Palace, and London. The CMRS program is heavy with work and time management is key (as I’m beginning to figure out). But while work is heavy here, it doesn’t mean I cannot go out and have an adventure every now and again. The professors here (called Tutors) care about your education, but they also care about your life. They don’t want you cooped up in the library all day studying; they want you to go out into the world and experience everything life has to offer in Oxford. As the saying goes, some people live to work while others work to live. People in Oxford are definitely the latter. I am expected to work hard but I’m also expected to have some fun once in a while.

The biggest difference between this program and Elmhurst, besides being in a different country, is the responsibility we students have. I meet with my tutors only once a week to receive an assignment and then don’t see them again until that assignment is due. The responsibility of my education falls on my shoulders from start to finish. I don’t have a professor helping me out every step of the way. I am expected to do my work and ask for help when needed. This may seem daunting for some, but believe me when I say this is the most gratifying work I’ve done since I started college. I am in charge of my own education and my own work.  This may be a tough program academically, but it can also be the most rewarding.
Studying abroad can be intimidating for most, but for me, studying abroad has helped myself become more independent and has helped me realize that taking chances is well worth the risk. This trip was a risk for me and so far has been the best experience of my life.

I know I cannot possibly sum up all of CMRS in a single post, but for any who are interested, I post occasionally on this blog to let people know what I am up to here. Feel free to browse my blog and ask any questions you might have.


Blogger Atinuke Sonuga said...

Was there anything culturally that you had any difficulties with? if so what were they and how id you over come it.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer Guenther said...

The biggest cultural change here is the idea of not apologizing for everything you do. Back in the States if you accidentally bump into someone, it is culturally expected to apologize, even if it wasn't your fault. (I even apologize to a wall if I run into it!) Here you don't apologize unless you do something that warrants an apology. I found myself the first week apologizing for everything I did until I realized no one else was. I have had to consciously remind myself that I don't need to apologize for everything I do in public. People also are not in a hurry. If someone is blocking an entrance, most people here will wait until the person moves on instead of pushing past. No words are exchanged and neither apologizes. They simply wait and move on. To overcome these two I simply observed how the locals behaved and mimicked their behavior until I started doing it on my own without thinking.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Kristen G said...

How difficult has it been to balance your time between the heavy workload and traveling?

3:27 PM  
Blogger Theresa Kolodziej said...

How have you enjoyed your classes? Tutorials seem the most fascinating. How are you liking those?

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer Guenther said...

Kristen- It is definitely a juggling act to stay afloat here. I can personally say I haven't found the perfect combination yet. It takes time and a little bit of practice. I have traveled to so many great places with the program but have done very little traveling on my own. I plan to start traveling more (mostly to London) once I get into a routine.

Theresa- I have not "officially" started my tutorials yet. I just finished writing a research paper and am now transitioning into tutorials and seminars. So far they look very interesting and I look forward to them!

6:03 PM  
Blogger Gina Skiris said...

Hi Jennifer,

This is Gina we had Johnson's poetry class together last year. Anyway I am so happy for you that are studying in the UK and enjoying it! I checked out your blog which was awesome I hope to do the same while I am in Australia next semester. Reading through the comments and your blog one thing that worries me is finding a balance while I am studying abroad it seems though you are doing a pretty good job. It looks like you have been to some really neat places and your research paper seemed really interesting, good for you! My question for you is if you are/were homesick and if so how have you coped with it?

9:14 PM  
Anonymous Jennifer Guenther said...

Hi Gina!
Being homesick is definitely not fun. People handle it in different ways. (I know some people here raided the 'American' food section of the local grocery store when they felt homesick) The best thing to help homesickness is to prepare for it. For me, I had some movies that I liked watching back home. When I felt sad or overwhelmed, I just turned on one of my movies. Technology also helps. It's nice to know my family is just one FaceTime away. It may not be the same as face to face (this is difficult to understand sometimes until you can only FaceTime your family) but even if you just need to talk to someone, there is someone nearby. The great thing is, being in a complete abroad program, everyone is going through the same thing you are, so everyone is there to help each other.

7:32 AM  

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