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Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Time April 23rd, 2013 in First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

Hello Blogosphere!!

I’ve just returned from a whopping five-week-long break in France and the States to the beautiful (and surprisingly sunny) city of Oxford! Break was an absolute blast—having some time to decompress from the high intensity of Hilary Term has been enormously beneficial to my mental and physical health. After departing Oxford nearly a month and a half ago, I headed off an awesome IFSA adventure weekend in Wales, then a week in Paris visiting some friends studying there before flying back to the States where I visited friends and family in D.C., Chicago, and Boston (I’m still reeling from all of the devastation that struck my beloved, resilient city).

While it was great having the chance to catch up and have some fun with loved ones back home, though, I realized after about a week away from Oxford that I really missed all of the friends that I had made here. Amongst all of my American and British classmates and even other IFSA-Butler students studying across Great Britain, I’ve amassed a group of friends that I have come to love and respect as much as the friends that I’ve known throughout my three years at Harvard.

One of the greatest qualities that my new group of friends possesses is its diversity. I’ve encountered an incredible array of fellow study abroaders all from drastically different backgrounds—from frat bros to arts students to Southern belles. Hearing each of their stories, learning about each of their home universities, and living and traveling with each of them for over two months now has proved critical to my own personal development while studying in England. It’s been an edifying experience to encounter and befriend each and every one of them, and I hope that I have likewise been able to share with them some new perspective on life.

*Below are some pictures from break*

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Still in Disbelief

Time March 4th, 2013 in First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

We only have one more week of term left! I was sitting down the other day to talk with some of my other IFSA friends, and all of us couldn’t believe just how quickly time has flown here. It literally seems like just yesterday that I was lugging my bags through Heathrow on my way to the IFSA orientation in London.

Now that I have a little time to reflect on the experience so far, I can’t help but look back with a smile on my first seven weeks at Oxford. While it take a little bit of getting used to, I had a much easier time getting adjusted to academic and social life here than I initially thought. The British, I’ve discovered, very much like to work hard and play harder. Writing one or two eight-page essays a week here has been an interesting challenge, to say the least.

So to blow off some steam, I have decided to adopt the British attitude towards going out, which often entails a trip to the bar nearly every other night of the week. Who knew that Wednesday would make for such a popular club night? Or that on Saturday, everyone stays in to rest up for a day of work on Sunday? The scheduling is a little strange, but I’ve found that the best way to make friends here is over a pint of Guinness at the college bar (the nearly black color of the stuff belies its surprisingly mellow taste).

I still hang out most of the time with my fellow American visiting students (we all live together and share a common culture, after all), but I’ve found that by becoming more active in extracurriculars at Hertford (joining the rowing team and wine society, for instance) it has become much easier to meet Brits.

Here’s hoping that they don’t all forget me over our 5-week break!

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And the Adventure Begins!

Time January 14th, 2013 in College Study Abroad, First Generation Scholars | No Comments by

Looking out over the Thames from my unusually spacious single in the Hertford College Graduate Center, I can hardly believe that I’ve finally arrived at Oxford. As the onion dome of Christ Church and the quintessentially Gothic spire of St. Mary’s loom in the distance, my thoughts speed through my mind at a thousand miles per minute.

Oxford! I still can’t quite grasp my head around it. Since February of my sophomore year (at which time I submitted my IFSA application to study abroad), I’ve been waiting in gripping anticipation for this day to come. Although the week leading up to my departure was replete with tearful good-bye’s and hectic last-minute preparations, I knew I was in for an amazing six months in England once my flight landed in London.

It’s powerful to think that while neither of my parents were able to attend college in their youth, let alone study abroad, I have had the immense privilege and blessing—with the help of the IFSA-Butler First Generation Scholarship Program and Harvard’s incredibly generous financial aid program—to do both.

Here’s looking forward to an incredible, fantastical, stupendous semester abroad!

*Be on the lookout for new posts and pictures over the coming days!*

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