In my perfect world, Hogwarts would exist. However, this is not a perfect world and as such, my dream of attending Hogwarts died when I was 11 and September 1st came and passed with no acknowledgement from Hogwarts.
Luckily, the next best thing to studying at Hogwarts is studying at Oxford. This past summer, I had the opportunity to study abroad at University College at Oxford University in England for five weeks as part of the SMU-in-Oxford program. This program invites about 40 SMU students to spend the second half of the summer exploring the charm and history of one of the oldest college towns in the world.
During this program I took two history classes. There is something to be said about studying history thousands of years older than the United States itself in the place in which those historical events actually took place. I was able to take one of my two classes from an SMU professor and another from an Oxford tutor so that I was really able to experience the cultural differences between education in the U.S. and in England.
From the quiet afternoons spent reading at Turl Street Kitchen, to walking around Christchurch Meadow, to seeing the entire town of Edinburgh spread out below me from the top of Arthur’s Seat, to seeing a performance of Measure for Measure at the famed Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, to eating Belgian waffles in Brussels, I can truly say that my experience abroad was one of the best. I know that most everyone who goes abroad says that, but my experience was truly amazing and I am so happy I made the choices I did.
Your abroad experience is what you make it. Had I not made the decision to leave my comfort zone, I would not have had such amazing experiences. I put my fears aside and took to traveling and exploring on my own. I got to travel to 4 different cities and took it upon myself to explore the museums and cultural sites that are in abundance in Oxford. I reached out and made new friends on the program – friends I don’t know if I would have met on campus otherwise – friends who still meet for a cup of tea in order to catch up and reminisce about our Oxford days.
Even though my Oxford education didn’t include learning how to cast spells or fly on a broomstick, my experience was more than magical. I would encourage everyone to take part in an SMU Abroad experience if they can. Whether or not you travel to Oxford, I know that the friendships I made and the learning that took place during those five weeks will last long beyond the attraction of the world of Harry Potter.