Oglethorpe Study Abroad: The Oxford Experience

OxfordCrestStudying abroad is an invaluable experience for young scholars. It allows the opportunity to live and work on your own in another culture, learn from a new perspective, and travel to incredible places. Oglethorpe University has worked to develop a study abroad department that has formed partnerships with universities all over the world. Oglethorpe’s partnership with Oxford University was among one of its most appealing qualities for me, as studying at one of the most prestigious and oldest universities in history was a personal dream of mine. During my three months in England, I not only fulfilled that goal, but changed the course of my academic and professional future.

For most college sophomores the experience might seem daunting: holding hour-long academic discussions with an Oxford professor, reading seven or more books and writing an essay each week, and then receiving feedback and critique. But, this is what is expected of any student who studies at Oxford University. The process is simple, but effective: the student chooses a course of study and the university selects an expert in the field to design and instruct the course in a one-on-one setting called a tutorial.

SKYLINE (1 of 1)

The Oxford skyline view from the Oxford Castle tower.

As an Oglethorpe student, this self-motivated curriculum sounded familiar to me. Core classes consist primarily of individual reading of a text, discussing it among my peers and with my professor, and writing an essay to illustrate my perspective. Perhaps this is why my “Media and Politics” tutor, Dr. Tudor Jones, was delighted to hear that I had come from Oglethorpe University; he had taught another student from Oglethorpe before and recalled her proficiency in writing constructively and conceptually sound essays.

Dr. Jones is author of multiple books on British political party policies and philosophies, has been a lecturer at three Oxford colleges, and was the Liberal Democrat candidate for the district of Buckingham in 2001. When I arrived at his flat for our introductory meeting, I expected to spend the next eight weeks learning about the news, journalism, and social media effects on American Politics. During our meeting, however, I decided that his experience in British political campaigning was too valuable to pass up. He convinced me to leap head first into the world of British political marketing.

Christie Pearce resizedOver the course of the next two months I would read more than 20 books and write seven essays focusing on political marketing, a field I did not know existed only a few weeks prior. I became enthralled almost immediately. As a politics and communication double major, a discipline that combined rhetoric, campaigning, interpersonal communication and party platform design seemed to be tailored to my interests. Dr. Jones was impressed with my confidence and natural aptitude for the subject, and helped to convince me that I could potentially have a future in political marketing. I now plan to pursue this avenue in a doctoral program for graduate school.

My study abroad experience quite literally changed my life. This is Oglethorpe’s goal for every student it sends to another country, be it for a few weeks or an entire year. The independence that is gained both academically and in terms of living alone in a new country is a merit of studying abroad that cannot be substituted. Students should not hesitate to speak with Dr. Collins, the director of the study abroad program at Oglethorpe, if they feel motivated; the experience will not disappoint them.

Oxford University (Corpus Christie College) is the alma mater of General James Edward Oglethorpe, the namesake of Oglethorpe University.

 

One thought on “Oglethorpe Study Abroad: The Oxford Experience

  1. It is entirely true that Oxford is a life changing experience. I studied there for Hilary term (Jan. – Mar.) and I am about to return for Michaelmas term in September. I have been very fortunate to stay in the UK for this entire year. I would encourage anyone studying abroad to add some time to their stay and explore the rich culture in the UK and in Europe. Although originally I considered studying in Rome for the Fall, my experience at Oxford was so rewarding that I decided to go back to New College instead.

    What I would add to the above article is the rich life available outside the University. Every place I went, and It helps that I am not shy, I was welcomed wholeheartedly. I joined with church services in St Columba’s church and was immediately invited to their Burns Supper, their student group and the Ministers house for tea. I made friends with students from all over, I shared a house with people from Puerto Rico, Virginia, San Francisco, New York and Germany. We had family style dinners often and discussed many topics. One of my favorite dinner conversations involved a a multidiscipline examination of the implications of the U.S. policy in emerging countries. We compared it to the British Empire in the nineteenth century. Around the table were a ( soon to be) philosopher, military officer, doctor, lawyer,neuro scientist, and a graduate student doing a D.Phil. on the Muslim Brotherhood.

    The D.Phil. student and I joined a pub quiz team and I am trying not to be bitter about Dr. Rulison costing me marks on a Copernicus Question. Wikipedia is wrong, that is all I have to say on the matter.

    Yes, the workload is enormous, yes, tutorials are challenging and intense, term is condensed into 8 packed weeks but the atmosphere of study, discussion, and the feeling that each opinion is of equal worth is an amazing confidence boost. I loathe Multiple choice tests and my grades in those subjects which have them reflect that. In Oxford I am an A student, the style of tutorial learning suits me, I feel I have retained more knowledge about the subjects I studied there than I have about those with tests at the end of each six week period.

    For my psychology course I attended a lecture in the Said Business School. The speaker was Ian Davis a world leader in Business Consulting. I was fortunate to chat with him after the lecture and was able to gain some valuable advice about my future career path. Again the atmosphere of inclusivity was amazing. Ian and I discussed the future of Management Consulting. He was very keen to encourage me to apply to consulting firms because he feels that psychology graduates have the skill set needed to identify how best to work with people, the most valuable of all the commodities in a business. I left feeling very positive about my major. Ian also mentioned that he often hires history graduates because of their ability to research huge amounts of information and pull out the salient points. I wish I could bring him along to any interviews I will have in the future.

    I am so excited about my next term. For my history elective I have requested the same Tutor I had for the Hilary term. Emily and I have met twice outside term time to discuss the topic and I have already started the massive amount of reading material which will form the basis of our discussions. At the National Library of Scotland I am reading a book published in MDCLXXVII or 1677. I can’t believe I get to touch it far less sit down and read it. Oxford libraries are the same, the Taylorian reading rooms are packed with books and manuscripts that should be in museums. Of course the University has an unbelievable amount of access to the newest publications as well. I have to mention here that our own Oglethorpe librarians do beat the Oxford ones in tracking down research materials. I relied on their help a lot and found some online items more easily available on our library system.

    If anyone is considering going to Oxford I would encourage them to do so. If anyone is coming up this term, and is feeling apprehensive, then get in touch and I’ll meet for tea at St Mary’s or a pint at the ‘Bird and the Baby’ as its known to residents. The sign above the door is ‘The Eagle and Child.’

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