What is it Like to Study at Oxford?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live and study at Oxford? To sit in halls where some of the greatest scholars contemplated life’s puzzling questions? Highland Capital Management Tower Scholar and Marian Tower Scholarship recipient, Allison Schultz, had the opportunity to find out and reflects on her experience.

Sitting at my gate in London’s Heathrow Airport, I’ve been reflecting on my last five weeks with the SMU-in-Oxford program. It was simultaneously both a rigorous academic challenge and the most rewarding scholastic experience of my college career to date. Oxford has taught me just how much reading and writing is humanly possible to prepare for class, and equally how satisfying it feels to participate in knowledgeable debate and discussion the next day. To receive high marks and perhaps even a “well done” from my Oxford don was reward enough for the hours I spent toiling over every essay.

I can truly say that I will never forget my time at the University of Oxford and University College. From Monday through Thursday we would attend our SMU instructor-led class, to be followed by weekly tutorials with our Oxford don or an Honors lecture. After class, evenings were largely spent studying and preparing for the next day, punctuated by special events like formal High Table lectures. Fridays were spent exploring some of England’s most famous cities and villages – London, Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon, and so on. Over the course of the program, it never failed to amaze me that we were following in the footsteps of great scholars. The University of Oxford is hallowed – the academic birthplace of names like Shelley, Lewis, and Carroll, among many, many more.

I took two classes at Oxford, Diplomacy in Europe and Georgian & Victorian England. There is truly no better place to study either subject, for Britain is both a major diplomatic power and the focal point of the latter class. It was truly a unique time to be living and studying in England. The ongoing Brexit proceedings dominated the news cycle and often came up in discussions. In addition, Boris Johnson was elected to be Britain’s next Prime Minister while we were in London. As a Tower Scholar and a Public Policy major, it fascinated me to study these monumental, historic political proceedings as they occurred, and to discuss these occurrences directly with the British people. I am leaving Britain with a better understanding of the policy issues at hand, which I can now analyze from both a British and an American perspective.

I never had any strong opinions concerning studying abroad prior to this trip. I knew that I personally wanted to seek out a study abroad experience, though I recognized that others may not have that same interest. Leaving Oxford, I am now a staunch advocate for everyone to punctuate their time at SMU with a study abroad experience. Studying abroad encourages cultural appreciation, resiliency and adaptability, and a developed and expanded world view that is so important in today’s global society. From the people I met to the sites I visited, I have seen more of the world – and I know that has strengthened me as an individual and as an aspiring policymaker. I extend my sincere appreciation to the SMU Tower Center for facilitating and encouraging my experience abroad. Looking back at my many photos and memories, I know I will cherish my experience for the rest of my life and will always be grateful for the Tower Center’s support.

If you would like an opportunity to study abroad, go here to learn more about scholarships and fellowships available to SMU students.