This summer, for the fourth year in a row, IWP sent a group of students to Oxford, England to take a month-long course at the University of Oxford. The Oxford courses — called tutorials — were each taught by an Oxford “Don,” in one-on-one or two-on-one weekly sessions. Each IWP student was given the opportunity to choose the topic of their study and help design the syllabus of their course.
Being one of the five IWP students who travelled to Oxford this summer was one of the most enriching educational experiences I have ever been afforded. While at Oxford, I chose to study the politics of imperial decline in Britain since 1939. Each week I was assigned a reading list and a question regarding my topic, which I was to answer in a short essay. During the tutorials I would then discuss my paper and defend my points of view. My favorite part of the tutorial method was the focus on learning through dialogue, especially because the Oxford Dons were very focused on discussing the student’s points of view, as opposed to those of the scholars that we read. The tutorial process strengthened my verbal communication skills, while the short essay format helped me to focus my writing.
Each of the IWP students were attached to New College, which despite its name was founded in 1379, making it one of Oxford’s oldest colleges. Through our attachment to New College, we were able to have borrowing privileges at its library, dine in its beautiful dining hall (think Harry Potter’s Hogwarts), participate in sports, and attend lectures we found to be of interest.
While our time at Oxford was filled with rigorous study, we also had had the ability to explore the city and have some fun! We spent time punting down the River Cherwell, dining in the Eagle & Child (J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis’ famous meeting spot), and shopping in Oxford’s covered market. Through the program, students also travelled to Cambridge, London, and the ancient city of Bath. We also had the ability to travel on our own — I personally travelled to Normandy, France and visited the American Cemetery on Memorial Day.
The IWP-Oxford Study Abroad program was one of the heights of my graduate school career. Not only was I able to study and learn in one of the oldest and most prestigious Universities in the world, I was able to do so with fellow IWP students. It is an experience I am sure that none of us will forget!