Thursday, March 05, 2015

Theresa K - Oxford, England - Spring 2015

Hello CPP 250! I'm Theresa and I'm studying here in Oxford, England with the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (CMRS).
I imagined studying here in Oxford would resemble something like the Harry Potter films. Being an Oxford student reflects this, partly due to the fact that some bits of the films were shot around here. It is, however, still a college town, making Oxford a interesting combination of both old and new. Walk around Oxford and you'll get that feel. Old buildings that can predate the United States mixed with modern ones with solar panels.
Always make plans to explore because time is precious here. I don't know how the workload is at other institutions, but at Oxford, you're a student. Full-time. I have essentially four hours of class a week, but that doesn't include hours of reading and writing. My concept of time (and of the weekend especially) no longer works in days and weeks, but in stages of essay writing. The best part about it, too, the intensity of the work is the best though grueling part.
This is not to say that all of your time should be spent writing and reading. Remember The Shining. Everyone here knows how important it is to take a break. Budget your time and you'll be fine. Since you'd be a student with CMRS, you're an associate member of Keble College and of the University of Oxford as a whole. There are plenty of societies and sports and events to go to. Meetings are great placeholders so you can structure your week's workload and it's a fun way to kick back and relax if not with fellow CMRS students. I myself have been attending lectures around Oxford and have been able to listen to and interact with brilliant people speak. I've even joined Oxford's Astronomy and Space Society. There's something for everyone.
So come to Oxford. It's pretty awesome.

10 Comments:

Blogger Brittany Negron said...

thanks for the input. I like your statement about learning how to budget. my one fear is prioritizing and getting too caught up in school work and not seeing what ireland has to offer. hope youre having a great trip!

7:12 PM  
Blogger Kristen Rossi said...

Hi Theresa! Loved your blogs. Can't wait to hear about your adventures throughout the semester. Hope it is so much fun and thank you for the advice as I'm preparing to go abroad for a semester!

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Theresa! That sounds really fantastic, I'm hoping to study there next fall. I'm very glad to hear that there are opportunities to explore outside of the classroom. I can't wait to be there!

Joseph

1:05 PM  
Blogger Gary N. said...

Sounds like you're having a great time Teresa! I can't wait to study abroad so I can have similar experiences. Thank you for the advise on preparing for a semester studying abroad. I hope you have a great experience!

2:07 PM  
Blogger Natalie said...

Hi Theresa,

It seems like you're really enjoying your time in Oxford! I really liked reading your advice about exploring everything when studying abroad. What two tips would you give when adapting to academic differences in another country?

Thanks!
Natalie D.

10:53 PM  
Blogger Karina Sutker said...

Hey Theresa,

It seems like it's easier to assimilate to England because you speak english. Are you in any way experiencing culture shock though?

3:37 PM  
Blogger Katherine Soderstrom said...

Hey Theresa! Wow, I had no idea Harry Potter was filmed around Oxford that is super cool! It sounds like you are having a great time. Thank you for reminding me that I will be a student first a foremost, so even though I will enjoy my time abroad it's important to focus on my schooling. Continue to have a wonderful trip.

-Kat S.

6:23 PM  
Anonymous Theresa K said...

Hi all! Thanks for the support and well wishes. We've just wrapped up tutorials here, which has taken up a great deal of my time here in Oxford. I'm now working on my seminar essay, so there's no shortage of writing here.

Don't underestimate culture shock in an English speaking country. There's plenty of things that are different here in the UK that can throw you off. I think everyone here at CMRS have come to the conclusion that you'll always be wrong when you walk down the street. There seems to be no set side of the sidewalk people generally walk on. I've been waving through people ever since. My biggest tip is, like class has/will teach you, don't be the loud American. People here are generally quiet. In my experiences here though, it has been a bit easier to adjust to the culture. I also have watched a lot of British tv/film, so that helped with vocabulary differences.

As for adapting to academic differences here in the UK: learn to adapt quick. The courses here are really different than in the US. Tutorials are one-on-one courses, though some can have an additional student, and it is very self directed. You really have to learn and analyze things you may not have prior knowledge on, and do it enough to write a solid paper on it. So be ready to be flexible.

I also recommend being really fond of libraries and take good notes. At CMRS, we have a library that we can check books out of, but not all of my books were in it. Instead, most of my required reading was in the Bodleian Libraries, where CMRS students cannot check books out. I'm fond of having a book and all my sources with me as I'm writing an essay. Sometimes, you may not have that luxury. Learn to utilize your reading time, take efficient and effective notes.

Let me know what other questions you have! Now that tutorials are done, I have slightly more time! :)

~ TK

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Jackie G said...

Hi Theresa, I was wondering what fun classes do you recommend? And how do the teachers grade there, is it more strict or lenient? Thanks!

2:46 PM  
Blogger Theresa Kolodziej said...

Jackie,

My apologies for sending this so late. You won't know your tutors until you actually get here, so I recommend looking carefully at the course descriptions. Picking one that is interesting to you is imperative! I picked courses on Contemporary British History and on the thinkers of the Scientific Revolution, so I enjoyed them greatly.

Grading is a bit difficult. One of my tutors would rarely go over the essay I wrote for the week. She had a more general approach, whereas another tutor really broke down the essay and we directly addressed it in class. The former tutor would give me a letter grade, but that is uncommon. Overall though, the tutors grade you qualitatively and judge you on how you progress throughout the term. Just be clear and understand your tutors and you will be fine. CMRS will convert the grades for Elmhurst to use.

10:29 PM  

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