UT Student at Oxford: first week

Welcome to my new blog! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Sammi Packard. I am a senior biology major from the University of Tampa. I was fortunate enough to be selected for the Oxford Study Abroad Programme (OSAP) for the 2018 Hilary term. I am very excited to share my experiences here with you in this blog!

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Cornmarket St. is a nice, pedestrian-only strip of shops and restaurants

My travels in the UK began when I arrived at the Heathrow airport on Thursday Jan 11. From there, another UT student (Nicole) and I took the bus to Oxford. I knew I would like the city as soon as I read its greeting sign: “Welcome to the City of Oxford: a Cycling City.” The architecture alone blew me away. There were so many beautifully old buildings and lots of cute shops. Nicole and I were fortunate enough to be neighbors, so we took a taxi to our houses together. My house is very comfortable with a good kitchen, living space, and backyard. I live on the ground floor, and two French students of a nearby business school and one other Oxford student live on the second floor (or “first floor,” as the British say). My accommodations also include a little dog named Ciboulette, which is French for chives!

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My house from the front
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The adorable Ciboulette

In the next few days, OSAP students went through orientation, where we learned about British culture, politics, art, architecture, what to expect of the Oxford tutorials, and overall how to feel at home in Oxford. My favorite part of orientation was the tours and inductions into the library and colleges. On Friday, we were able to go on a walking tour of Oxford, which helped to identify some of the many buildings. I still had trouble finding my way around the city, but it was amazing to see the gorgeous architecture.

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View of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin and Radcliffe Camera (right)
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The Bridge of Sighs joining two parts of Hertford College
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Broad St.

On the same day, we were also inducted into the Bodleian Library, the main Oxford library. There are about a hundred libraries in Oxford, including the Bodleian libraries, libraries for specific subjects, and the college libraries. After the induction, we were given our library cards, called “Bod-cards,” which allow us to enter certain libraries and check out books from our college library. During the tour, I was astounded to learn that the Bodleian contains around 13 million books and houses nearly every printed copywriten book published in the UK.

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The Radcliffe Camera, a circular library that is a part of the Bodleian Library
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Old Schools Quad of The Bodleian Library

Monday was one of my favorite days so far because we were inducted into our colleges. There are 38 different colleges within the University, which are all self-governing. All students and teachers must be associated with a college. The colleges are similar to “houses” in Harry Potter, because they compete with each other in academics and sports but are still within the University. I was very happy to learn that I am associated with Christ Church because it is the prettiest college, in my opinion. The other two UT students (Nicole and Hayley) were also inducted into Christ Church. We were able to get a breathtaking tour of the grounds and the library that has special collections which included first editions of science volumes, original illustrations by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (A.K.A. Lewis Carroll), and Queen Elizabeth I’s personal bible.

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Tom Quad of Christ Church
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View of Christ Church from the War Memorial Gardens
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Special Collections, second floor of Christ Church Library
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Queen Elizabeth I’s personal bible

Overall, the first few days in Oxford had me completely amazed, and I’m so lucky I was given the opportunity to live here for a few months. I am looking forward to finally learning my way around the city, and I cannot wait to begin my tutorials to get the full Oxford University experience!

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View of Oxford from Westgate Shopping Center

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