This past summer I packed up my bags and participated in a Summer Abroad program with my university. I travelled to Oxford, England to take a Shakespeare course at Oxford University. Two of the best aspects about the program were that I completed a full year course in one month, and that as the course was taught by an instructor from my university, I didn’t have to worry about transfer credits!
Oxford is a small town with beautiful historical buildings. (The picture above is of the Radcliffe Camera, which is a part of the Bodleian Library.) It was such an incredible experience to be immersed in a new culture. I often found myself gazing around as I walked down the street because of the newness of it all.
Completing a full year course in one month was intensive – even though I was overseas, I wasn’t on vacation. There was a lot of work to do, just like in a regular course (readings, assignments, a mid-term, and an exam). But it was an enriching experience because I got to see the material I was studying brought to life. Studying abroad allowed me to experience integrated learning. I got to see plays at Shakespeare’s Globe (in London) and the Royal Shakespeare Company (in Stratford). I love reading Shakespeare, so being able to see his work in action was great for my learning because it allowed me to understand the material better.
The Summer Abroad program is, of course, mainly revolved around academics. However, there was time for fun and to explore. Classes were on Monday to Thursday mornings, so that left Monday to Thursday afternoons, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as free time (although there was a lot of studying to do during those hours!). Some people took trips to different countries within Europe because travelling is much cheaper there. I chose to spend a few days in London, exploring the typical tourist attractions such as Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey.
I would recommend pursuing a summer abroad or any international study experience. However, there are some aspects that need to be realistically considered first. It took almost the entire school year to fill out applications, attend orientations, and prepare myself for going abroad (both financially and mentally). It’s a big investment, but many universities have scholarships and bursaries for students wishing to pursue international travel. Before my Summer Abroad trip, I had never travelled internationally before (much less alone!) and I hadn’t been on an airplane in eleven years! But I leapt into this opportunity because I knew it would be an amazing experience. I made some new friendships that will last a lifetime, and this has been my best summer (so far)! Let’s see if I can top it next year.