Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Oxford, England: July to August

My name is Jessica and for my study abroad program, I spent the summer in Oxford, England, taking classes at Oxford University. I went through the MOSAIC program, so I was given a visa for the summer. I am a senior at Columbia College, studying in the English program for a Bachelor’s degree with a triple minor in History, Women’s Studies, and Sociology. I want to take graduate classes in Library and Information Systems after I graduate, so I felt drawn to the English programs that the Oxford trip offered. In my flat in Oxford, I lived just down the street from the Oxford Press office. I felt closer to a center of publishing and literature than at home in Columbia, Missouri.

My goal for this trip was to spend as little money getting there as possible, so I could put my money into day trips that I would take with other students. I chose to take nontraditional ways of travel to help save money. After a car ride from Columbia to Bloomington, I then took a train to Union Station in Chicago where I took another train to O’Hare International Airport. It may seem like my travel was roundabout, but I did it to save money. I estimated that I would save $600 taking a train instead of a plane from Columbia to Chicago at the beginning of July, a busy time due to the holiday and being peak tourist season for Chicago. It was also cheaper to go from O’Hare International Airport than Lambert International Airport.

I did not fully utilize the benefits of the visa. I was unaware that the visa lasted longer than the time I had for the program. In May, it was usable to cross borders and go on adventures within Europe. If I could go back and do anything over, I would have gone to England sooner rather than later and done some exploring. Utilize every moment of the study abroad experience. I was able to do so many things because of planning ahead and understanding the transportation systems of Europe. More than once, I jumped on a train in downtown Oxford and whipped through England to go to another part. We spent a full day on the Cliffs of Dover.

My favorite parts of the trip were the surprises. In Stratford-Upon-Avon, I made a detour with some friends and we found what is called The Butterfly Palace. It was unexpected, but we definitely took the time to look through it and saw thousands of butterflies. I will try to attach photos if I can. Another time we found ourselves surprised was that the fort in Dover was having a Dunkirk exhibit due to the upcoming movie. We went on guided tours, saw items from the movie, and also got guided mapping on how the war was fought off the coast. It was special because the exhibit isn't permanent, but we got to learn more about wartime during the world wars than what is available in American history courses.

Advice: bring good shoes. I only brought one pair of tennis shoes, but once I went into the ocean at Dover, they were done. I walked nearly six to ten miles a day in them and they were toast. I had to go to a shop in Oxford and get a pair of brand new Nikes, because the shoes had a sizing chart to compare to US sizes. I still have them and they are the best sneakers I’ve ever had.

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