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Campus Notes: Why I Chose British Studies

By Sophia Anderson ′15

As an English and business double major, participating in British Studies was a crucial step in obtaining my degree. Offering a range of courses centered around British history and culture, the program gave me the chance to complete some of my major and foundations requirements. However, despite the fact that I went on the program primarily to focus on my studies, I also had one of the best summers of my life and learned a lot about Oxford as well as about studying abroad. In fact, many of the preconceived notions that I had about the experience proved to be false.

For instance, I had imagined Oxford, England as a rural, old-fashioned town like Cambridge is said to be, but it is actually one of the most vibrant cities that I have ever been to. Growing up in Atlanta, GA, I am accustomed to an energetic, urban setting, and I was surprised to find that Oxford offered a similar energy through the various monuments, restaurants, shops and parks that are scattered across the city. Yet, Oxford also presents a unique atmosphere in that the city merges with the countryside quite abruptly. If one were to venture a little further down the River Thames, he or she would be presented with several traditional English restaurants isolated among picturesque pastures and farmhouses. One of my fondest memories of the summer is traveling outside of town to a place called Medley Farms for some strawberry picking with a few friends. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the scenic walk was only a short twenty minutes from our school, and that we had arrived just in time for raspberry season! Oxford truly offers the best of both worlds, and I was constantly entertained during my time there.

Another thing that I didn’t expect was to grow so close to my peers so quickly. People always speak of study abroad as an experience that pulls you out of your comfort zone and forces you to rely on yourself. However, though I do feel that I was able to grow personally from the trip, I was never uncomfortable and was always surrounded by reliable friends. The group of students who participated in the program last summer came from schools across the country, so each person knew only a handful of people if any upon arrival. Yet, everyone was so eager to get to know one another that the time it took for all of us to become friends was almost nonexistent. As a result, it was never hard to gather a group to explore a nearby museum or even to journey to London for the weekend after class ended on Thursday.

British Studies was one of the best experiences of my life, and I am so fortunate to have been able to participate in such an incredible program. It doesn’t get much better than great scenery and great company, but somehow British Studies provided that and much more.

If you would like to hear more about British Studies, there will be an information session Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 5 p.m. in Buckman 105.