I was the type of kid who smuggled books into the trees I climbed and read under the covers past my bedtime (what can I say, the thug life chose me)—yet I genuinely don’t think I’ve ever loved books as much as I have since coming to Oxford. The libraries and book shops here are incredible (and everywhere), which makes working on papers feel almost easy. The biggest challenge is dealing with the temptation to take photos the whole time instead of working.
Writing twelve essays in eight weeks seemed daunting at first, but there are endless resources readily available here and tutors tend to be very personable and helpful. I have learned so much in each of my tutorials, which are on 17th-18th century literature and the development of the English language. My tutors are both experts within these fields and have given me invaluable advice that has made me a better researcher and writer. This experience has given me a new appreciation for UT as well, since my professors at home are similarly knowledgeable and willing to offer guidance.
Although we do a lot of studying here, I’ve also enjoyed more free time than expected. Tutorials require a good deal of preparation but only take up one or two hours per week. This type of schedule also frees up time for travel. OSAP plans free trips for us to famous historical sites every other weekend; I’ve gotten to see ancient Roman baths in Bath, gone on three day trips to London, and even spent a weekend in Nice, France (which is possibly the most beautiful place in the world and I highly recommend). There is also so much to see here in Oxford, from the 38 beautiful colleges to a thousand-year-old Norman church and the Eagle and Child pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to discuss their books.
It has truly been amazing to study English language and literature in a place where so much of what I am reading about actually happened. As the term comes to a close, I look forward to seeing more of Europe and then heading home for my last year at UT. This experience has been an unforgettable addition to my education, which I am so grateful to the Honors Program and Oxford University for making possible.
Overlooking the fact that the U.K. lacks any nearby Popeyes Restaurants, Oxford has been absolutely breathtaking! To have been given the chance to study at Oxford’s world-renowned Bodleian Libraries is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. These libraries have long been the symbol of Oxford, a triumph of architectural design—so I guess you can say they are equivalent to UT’s Starbucks.
In all seriousness though, being here has helped me grow both mentally and emotionally thanks to my courses. I am currently working on tutorials in Neuropharmacology and Psychopathology. Both have challenged me to think about the same concepts in two completely different and opposing schools of thought. Nonetheless, this challenge has broadened my approach to conceptualizing mental and psychological disorders; this capability will prove invaluable in my future professional endeavors.
Since my arrival I had the chance to travel around England as well as to France, and I am still debating on which country has the best cup of coffee. Moreover, Oxford has a bunch of museums around the city. In fact, there is this new bacteria exhibit in the History of Science Museum that has a giant inflatable prokaryote hanging from the ceiling, A GIANT INFLATABLE PROKARYOTE—I have been nerding out about this for the past week There was also a dinosaur exhibit at the museum but (in my unpopular opinion) bacteria beat dinosaurs any day!
Anyway, my time here at Oxford has been amazing thus far, just have three more essays and a presentation left and I will be officially finished! Although it will be a bittersweet moment, I am looking forward to exploring England and Europe more!
Honors student Gontse Molosiwa has taken hold of one of the many opportunities the Honors Program has to offer: the Oxford Abroad Experience. Read below to hear her take on this incredible personal journey:
Picturesque, picturesque, picturesque…and did I say picturesque? This word is embedded in my mind whenever I walk the streets of Oxford. The buildings ooze of history and it is a very student friendly city. The University of Oxford is a masterpiece in itself. It is made up of 38 colleges and I am associated with Christ Church. The tutorial system has enabled me to have in-depth one-on-one conversations with my tutors about subjects I care about such as economic development and business ethics. It is a rigorous system but I am grateful for this opportunity because it has completely changed my perspective on academia. I highly encourage my peers to study abroad here! Oxford University embodies an intellectually and visually stimulating environment and I am grateful to the Honors Program for this opportunity. The highlight of my study abroad happened in October. I got to see to my president (H.E Mokgweetsi Masisi) give a lecture about democracy and economic development in Africa at the Saïd Business School! I even got interviewed by the Botswana Television News afterward and was featured in a news segment back home. Oxford has been lovely so far. I get to meet new people every day, travel to new places, and broaden my mind. What more could one ask for?
One of the goals of UT’s Honors Program is to help provide opportunities such as those Gontse has experienced. Of course, it’s not up to just the Honors Program; students need to seize opportunities as well!
My time studying at Oxford University has seemed to fly by! I only have a few more weeks until I return home to Florida and I’m just so happy with my experience here. It has been quite snowy in Oxford over the past month, which I have thoroughly enjoyed, as I am originally from New York and we definitely don’t get this weather in Florida!
Following the completion of my tutorials, I was able to do some traveling and the first place I went was Paris, France. I visited the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, amongst other places, and it was truly captivating.
I feel that I have learned more about myself and have developed more independence through this experience. Having to research a topic myself and glean the important information to put into an essay is quite different to the normal “lecture-style” of teaching back home. While different, it was really effective because I knew that I needed to completely understand the topic in order to write about it and discuss it with my tutor. Living and learning in a new country can be a scary thing, but once you embrace it and get used to the way of life, it becomes something so unique and incredible. I feel that this experience has helped me develop myself in ways that I would not have been able to back at home and it has helped me prepare for my future education at pharmacy school. I would highly recommend this experience, as it is a truly one-of-a-kind experience that many people do not have the opportunity to take advantage of.
Things are going great here in Oxford. It has been a little bittersweet now that the term has officially ended, but overall it has been an amazing term. I am still working on my research on British butterflies with one of my tutors. We are getting ready to analyze the data for the two species of butterflies that we decided to work with: The High Brown Fritillary and the Dark Green Fritillary. Sadly, my other tutorial, Marine Vertebrate Zoology, has ended; however, my last essay I had to write was my favorite as I got to write about my favorite animals: sharks and stingrays.
In addition to my studies, I was able to take a trip to Portsmouth recently and visit the British Naval Yards. It was absolutely incredible being able to see some of the old battleships and learn about the history of the British Navy.
In other news, my rowing team was able to qualify for the biggest race of the term: Torpids. This is a race that lasts 4 days where boats try to “bump” each other in order to earn a set of blades. This was the first year since 1999 where Christ Church Boat Club was able to have 3 women’s boats qualify and compete in Torpids; however, there was one force that held us back in Torpids: mother nature. During the week of Torpids, the “beast from the east” decided to visit the UK and with it came a lot of snow which held the city in a standstill. Shops were closed, tutorials were cancelled, and 2 of the 4 days of Torpids had to be cancelled completely. Regardless of the snow and the bitterly cold weather, it was an amazing rowing season and I am so lucky I was able to compete in a few races with my amazing team.
This entire experience has been incredible and it has taught me so much about independence, confidence, and perseverance. I have had to learn how to problem solve, but also how to ask for help when I need it. I have learned not just in an educational sense, but I have learned about myself and about life and that will stay with me forever.
Things are going great over here in Oxford. The tutorials I am taking are Community Ecology and Marine Vertebrate Zoology and I love both of them. With my Community Ecology tutorial, my tutor is having me do research to study the distribution of two butterflies that are native to the UK. We are using mathematical models to determine if distance affects the competition between the species. In my marine vertebrate zoology tutorial, some of the topics I have explored are life in the deep sea and how the vertebrates have evolved to live in the sea. My tutors push me to think outside the box or in my case, think outside the submarine, to make connections that I had never even begun to think about.
In addition to school, I have been able to do a few extracurricular activities as well. I took a trip to London to visit Westminister. I was able to see the Abbey, Trafalgar Square, and the beautiful Buckingham Palace. I also have taken a trip to visit Cambridge, which is also known as “the other place” to see how it differs from the bustling city of Oxford. While there is a competition between which University is better, I think both have qualities that make them equally great.
One thing that is great about Oxford (and many of the cities in the UK) is that most of the museums are free, so when I need to take a quick break from studying I can pop into a museum without having to spend the whole day there. My favorite museum I have visited so far is the History of Science museum. They have a wide variety of different tools they used to study Science, Mathematics, and Physics in prior times and they show how the tools developed into the ones we use today.
My favorite extracurricular I have done so far while here in Oxford is joining the rowing team at Christ Church. I should inform you that I have never done rowing before coming here, so it was a very tough few practices (and many sore days after) as I had to learn how to row from scratch and my body had to adjust to using different muscles. However, I have loved the challenge of learning this new skill and it has been a great way to meet the people in my college and get away from my studies.
This experience so far has been unbelievable and I have to keep reminding myself that this is in fact real life.
Oxford is such a historic and beautiful city to be able to live and study in. The tutorial system that Oxford University utilizes is considerably effective in helping me fully understand the topics I am studying. My molecular biology and pharmacology tutorials keep me very busy, but I am enjoying learning about these areas in a new way. I meet with my tutor either every week or every other week to go over the essay I had written for that session in depth, discuss any questions I may have, and then pick a topic for the next essay. Some of my favorite study spots include the Christ Church Library and the Radcliffe Camera. The Oxford Study Abroad Program has organized many trips and the ones I have attended so far include trips to London and Hampton Court Palace, which I have really enjoyed. So far, this experience has allowed me to gain independence, personally and educationally, while giving me the opportunity to meet a wide range of people that I would not have otherwise met. I am having such a positive experience here in Oxford and I am excited to discover even more about this wonderful city.