I’ll be spending the entirety of my junior year of college studying abroad at Oxford University in England.
There. I said it.
I was accepted to study English literature at Mansfield College (one of the many colleges within the Oxford University system) back in late February of this year, yet I’ve put off actually talking about it on this blog until now. Why? There are a few reasons, the first of which being that part of me is afraid that it is too good to be true. What if something happened and I ended up not being able to go after I announced it to everyone? (In reality: nothing would happen. I would just have to explain to everyone that I wouldn’t be going abroad after all). Another part of me recognizes the stigma that can sometimes be associated with Oxford due to its academic and social status as a prestigious English university. But I can’t hold in my excitement any longer: I’ll be studying at OXFORD!!!
To be honest, when I first entered college I highly doubted that I would ever actually study abroad. I’ve always been sort of a home-body, preferring to hang out with friends and family in familiar locations rather than go out exploring and adventuring all of the time. There’s also the added wrinkle of being severely allergic to nuts, since airlines and international programs are sometimes not the most allergy aware organizations. Food allergies complicate everything, and travel is definitely no exception. I also worried about the financial expenses of studying abroad– how on earth would I pay for such an adventure? However, deep down I knew that the biggest thing holding me back was my fear of living on my own for an extended period of time. Living on the Wheaton campus an hour and a half from my childhood home was one thing, but living an entire ocean away?! I wasn’t sure if I could handle that much change all at once.
Then one day during my spring semester of freshman year my English major adviser suggested I think about applying to the Oxford program the following spring. He explained that several of the students he’s advised in the past spent their junior years there and absolutely loved the experience. Still skeptical that I would actually take the leap and apply, I thanked him for the suggestion and then proceeded to tuck it in the back of my mind.
I felt my feelings towards studying abroad slowly change as sophomore year progressed. The more I learned about the Mansfield College program, the more interested I became in the prospects of actually going. To think that I could also study at Oxford!! The idea seemed crazy to me, and in many ways it still feels surreal. As the application date neared I told myself that I would at the very least apply and see what happened– given the high GPA requirement and competitive application process, I highly doubted that I would even be accepted in the first place.
And then I received the acceptance email, and everything changed.
Suddenly it was happening– suddenly it is happening. I’m actually going to study abroad in Oxford, England for an entire academic year!! I cannot even begin to describe how excited (and nervous) I am, especially considering that I’ve never even traveled outside of the United States before. I can’t wait to walk through those Hogwarts-esque halls and visit all of the independent bookshops and drink tea in cute little cafes. Most importantly, though, I am beyond ecstatic to be able to spend an entire year focused solely on studying English literature.
I feel so lucky to have this opportunity and so indebted to everyone who has helped me along the way. This is by far the biggest leap I have ever taken in my twenty years of existence– fingers crossed that it’s the experience of a lifetime!
I wanted to bring this up on this blog because up until this point I’ve felt like I keep avoiding mentioning it, even though it’s constantly on my mind. Get ready for a lot more Oxford/England discussions coming your way!
Have you ever studied abroad or traveled to Oxford or England in general? Have any tips or advice? Let me know in the comments section below!