Studying 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.
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.
Over 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.