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!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Making Friends!

I have been starting to take advantage of all the work out classes at Uni. They are so fun and have been a great way to make new friends! I have taken a zumba class, body pump class, and yoga and so far have made friends in each one. Today I decided to be adventurous with my grocery shopping and bought a few different things. For example, for dinner tonight I had duck sushi and dates. Both were AMAZING. They serve a lot of duck here so it has been fun trying more of that. Anyways, I am going out with a few French Erasmus students tonight, and then meeting up with a few Americans at the RGU Student Center (apparently it is a bar/club but only for RGU students) which I think should be fun. So far I am loving it here. Everyday feels like a new adventure. I have learned that I am more independent than I thought. I like doing things on my own and putting myself out of my comfort zone. It's been amazing.
Well time to go, meeting with a few of the guys to go explore old Aberdeen! Xoxo

Friday, July 11, 2014

For the love of Oxford!

Hello everyone! I have been in Oxford for a little over one week now and it has been an amazing week. There has been so much to see and do. Oxford is full of historic, beautiful places that leave you in awe. To stand at these places gives you a feeling of the countless intellectuals who have traveled these streets and contributed so much to the society that we have become.
One of the things that really surprised me is the cultural diversity that occupies Oxford and London. It is truly a blend of old and new. A building that is hundreds of years old will have a modern structure right next to it. On the streets you will hear several different languages being spoken. People from all over the world contribute daily to the cultural mix that inhibits these historic places.  


Another aspect of daily life here, especially in London, is the awareness of the terroristic threat. It is very clear the Londoners have not forgot the bombing of their subway system as there are constant messages that come across the p.a. system advising commuters to be aware of their surroundings and to report any suspicious behavior or left baggage to an employee. Police presence is supported by much more firearm power than in the U.S. as they visibly carry automatic weapons. With all these things to consider I am surprised how easily that I have adapted to city life and am quickly developing a love for this country that I believe will last a lifetime!

Well everyone, we have officially been in beautiful England for about a week now. There have definitely been some crazy ups and downs, and a few problems with my specific program, but overall it has been a great experience. I have personally never been out of the country, so there were some things that have been difficult for me. The homesickness is real, and if you are thinking about studying abroad and have never done anything like that, I would definitely prepare yourself for it. You find yourself to be half way around the world, you miss your friends and family, and you will have moments questioning yourself and what it is you are doing here. But, it will pass. You get chances to talk to your family, and then you start experiencing the new world around you, and trust me.. it starts to go by faster than you think. I am already almost half way done with my program and I feel as if I just arrived. Oxford is a beautiful city, that reminds me a lot of my hometown of Columbia. In fact it is starting to feel like a home away from home. London is a wonderful city with so much to do. We are going on several expeditions there, and when we get back home to Oxford, everyone is exhausted. It is definitely very fast paced, and a lot to take in at once.. and I feel as if I will know more about what I am really learning once I return home and can reflect more on my experience. But right now, I can look out my bedroom window to see a beautiful garden in the back yard and I am reminded of where I am and how amazing that truly is.

Week one

The first week has been crazy. Oxford is beautiful and a home away from home. Our house is amazing (even if it is a 45 minute walk) and I have really connected with some of my housemates making the house seem like a home and our group like a family. London is exciting and everything I expected. What wasn't expected is how unorganized and deceitful the program is. I have so many revised schedules and none of them are correct. I have no idea what I'm doing each day until the day of and even that is subject to change every hour. Not only that I feel as if I have been lied to. I was told we would be going to Stonehenge and having a dinner with a lord and lady both events have been canceled. This is especially infuriating because the cost of the events were included in the cost of the trip. When I inquire about a refund for the canceled events (seeing as how I have paid for them) I get the run around because no one is actually in charge or knows what is going on. I am falling in love with England but am becoming increasingly more disappointed in the program.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

First Day!

I was awoken much earlier that I would have preferred this morning. The seagulls here are much noisier than any other bird I have ever witnessed. Anyways, I woke up and cooked myself some breakfast and was out the door headed towards the bus stop. On my way I ran into Jina and we went to school together. I made it to campus much earlier than I meant to so I used the time to walk around and get my bearings. The buildings all stretch across the banks of the river Dun so the campus provides a pretty beautiful scenery. After about an hour it was time to go to class. Business Information Systems. The class itself got out almost an hour early, which was nice, however I don’t feel like a got a good grasp as to what we will be learning and how the semester will go. I think the lecturer was too sleepy haha.
Later on that evening I finally met all my flatmates. Two Scottish girls, one Irish girl, one Finnish girl, and one French girl. Some how I was lucky enough to have a flat with all girls!   They all seem very sweet.
I ended my evening by attending an Irish dancing class with my Irish flatmate! Don’t worry, it is just as hard as it looks. Xoxo

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Today's the day ( well I guess it was more yesterday was the day)

Today's the day!
Today we left for England and how exciting it was. My name is Jen and I am a sociology and psychology major. I'm so excited for all of the cool places and things we will get to see and I am ready to try and apply this great adventure to my life and future. This is the longest trip I have ever been on (travel time and duration) and my first time out of the United States. I am excited to see how this trip changes me for the better because I know that with an experience like this I will learn a lot and grow.  I will miss my family, friends, and pets but it's all good I will be back in less than a month and they can always keep updated by viewing my blog at cc travelers.

I was trying to upload this yesterday but sadly have had no internet until now. Sorry for the delay.
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