Monday, July 28, 2014

Going into this study abroad experience, I personally had no idea England was culturally as different from the US as it is. I thought Britain would be the perfect first abroad destination because they must be pretty much the same right? Is it even going to feel like I am in a different country? I was very wrong. Culture shock to me was a feeling of confusion; not knowing where to go, what to do, or where to find anything that feels remotely familiar to you, being lost. This is probably the reason for eating McDonalds that one time, by the way, so no need to judge. Although I did get used to England fairly quickly I may say, it was in fact much different than living in the US. I had to relearn which way to look before crossing the street! That is a bit of a shock in itself. The feeling is almost as if you are a small child again, you very often do things wrong, and you equally as often apologize to everyone around you who are just trying to live their daily lives. Not that the British people are mean in anyway, or that I felt unwelcome. I just realized towards the end of my stay in Oxford, that people starting asking us for direction, people began to mistake us as locals, and trust me, the tourists not knowing where to go and stopping in the middle of the sidewalk even started to get to me after being there for three weeks. It’s not as if I never felt at home eventually, the differences between our cultures just caught me by surprise. It’s not just that they drive on the other side of the road, they have different money—with no tax, their stoplights turn to yellow going both to red and to green, or they have different names for things like the coaches, or a scout. The difference is more than that, the British people think differently than we do (well most of us, the more I found out about the English people, the more I questioned whether or not I was actually one of them). They are realist, they keep to themselves, and they are very respectful of others around them. They are much more mellow and do not show their emotions like most Americans do. The children are so much more independent and the parents are much less worried about every little thing. Americans focus on the future, the “American Dream”, while the British people focus on right now. They live and think in a way that I don’t see very often around me back home, and I am fond of it personally. I really enjoyed coming here and being surprised about the differences between these cultures, I am so glad I have experienced another culture fully; been dropped in a foreign country to be completely immersed in another culture and way of life. It has opened my eyes to all the possibilities, and I cannot wait to explore the world and experience all the other cultures out there.                                                             

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Back home again!

We finished up at Oxford and flew home Wednesday, however there is still much that I would like to share. The internet connection was not the greatest where we were staying at so I would like to finish up with the museums even though I am back in the States. Also the last couple of days have given me time to reflect somewhat on the trip itself. The experience was unlike anything else that I have had in my lifetime. There were a few bumps along the three week stay but all in all I would recommend the program. One thing that I think needs to be made clear to students who might be considering this opportunity is that it is not like the classroom experience that we are use to here in the United States. The experience is emphasizes over the classroom setting. The Oxford method of teaching is to have the student critically think for themselves. Teachers present students with ideas or material to read and reflect on. A one on one experience in which teacher and student exchange ideas and the teacher guides the students critical thinking skills is what fuels the academic experience at Oxford. Having said all that I think that it is what you make of the experience and let it enhance your view of the world that brings the real value to the program. If anyone is considering a study aboard program and would like more information feel free to contact me. This week I will be sharing the Museum of the History of Science so until then cheers!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum houses a vast collection of objects from a variety of civilizations throughout the world. It was initially started to house the collection of General Pitt of whom I believe may have been somewhat of a hoarder! Nonetheless, this is a amazing sight to behold as it tells the story of how a society lives and works through it everyday objects as well as it's crafts.

The website has a virtual tour and virtual collections so that it is no matter if you can't make it to Oxford, you can still enjoy this museum. Cheers!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Well we only have a few days left in England. I cannot believe how fast the trip has gone by; the time has gotten away from me. We have seen so many things, and have had very busy days. Days exploring London, where I found I was pretty good at navigating myself around the city by bus, subway (the tube), or walking. It is a good feeling being able to take on a city such as London, and the experience has made me much more confident about traveling in the future. I have seen the things you are supposed to see, the London eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge (often mistaken as London Bridge which in no way lives up to its name) and the Tower of London. We have visited Parliament, Westminster abbey, and taken tours all around the city to see the view. Some of my favorite experiences in London however have been with my psychology class. We have gone to Freud and Darwin’s homes, which to a psychology major is definitely something to see. Professor Higgs took us to some beautiful parks to wind down, explore, and see amazing views of the city of London. I have also very much enjoyed the more laid back days, visiting Windsor castle, and drinking wine lakeside in the beautiful gardens of Blenheim palace. I have learned a lot about the culture and the people in England, there is no doubt I will come back again at some point in my life. Being able to study at such a prestigious school, in a place with so much history has been a great privilege. Tomorrow is our trip to Bath, to see the ancient Roman side of England, and although I am very disappointed about Stonehenge being cancelled, I am still looking forward to this step back into time. I have met some amazing people on this trip, and have made some memories I will cherish. Pictures are to come! Until next time, Sara.  

The last week

This is our last week. We have done and seen so much. I can successfully navigate myself around London and Oxford using the various methods of inexpensive transportation or on foot. We have seen the houses of Freud and Darwin as well as countless museums and castles. And oh the shopping! I just hope everything fits in my bags! I am still angry about the disorganization of the program but the few days I was allowed to be on my own seemed to be the most productive, educational, and fun. We were told we would be refunded some of the money for one of the events that was cancelled (a small victory). This trip has changed me in ways that I did not expect. I miss my friends and family so I will be happy to go home but it will be bitter sweet. With the things my house mates and I have survived together we are our own kind of family and I will miss them. I will miss Oxford. I will miss England.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Oxford University Museum of Natural History is free to the public and it contains a vast collection of zoology and geological exhibits.
If you want to reflect on the evolution of this planet and the species that have inhabited it then this is the museum for you.  

Not only are the exhibits remarkable but the building that they are housed in is also an awe inspiring setting. All these museums have their own websites if you are interested in more information or if you just want to take a look at some of the collections. Cheers!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Navigating the Wonderful Museums

The museums that are available to the public are certainly worth taking advantage of. There are several here at Oxford such at the Museum of Natural History, Pitt Rivers Museum, Museum of the History of Science and the Ashmolean Museum.

The Ashmolean Museum is the oldest public museum in Britain. It dates back to the late 1600's and underwent a major renovation in 2009. I highly suggest that you try and visit more than once since it is a little overwhelming to try and take in during one visit. In 2011 the Egypt gallery was opened and there are amazing exhibits to view including items that had been stored because of shortage of room. So even if you have been before it is worth taking another look.

There is truly something here for everyone, no matter what your taste are. To be among so many rare treasures is an honor.

I will attempt to feature a museum a day over the next few days just to give anyone who is interested a glimpse at what is available. The internet connection is not the best here so if I am unable I will post them upon returning to the States. Cheers!

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