Whereas in my last post I focused mainly on the social aspect of Oxford, this post is going to be completely about academics!
My academic experience here is very different than it is at home, but I love it! For visiting students (at least those studying subjects that don’t involve math), school is structured around tutorials and lectures.
Basically, you have two classes, a primary tutorial and a secondary tutorial. Throughout the term, you meet with your primary tutor (professor) once a week, and your secondary tutor every other week, for an hour each. These are one-on-one meetings, and take place in your tutors office or somewhere of his or her choice. Before the tutorial, you are assigned reading and a 2,000 word essay. The reading lists are EXTREMELY extensive and overwhelming. Luckily, you aren’t expected to read every book on the list, but it’s expected that you read a good amount.
During the tutorial, you discuss your essay and verbally back up your argument. This is intense and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Every meeting is really intimidating at first, but great discussion always ensues. This class format requires you to be on your game for the entire hour, which is both exhilarating and exhausting.
Whereas in a lot of classes back home it’s pretty easy to get by without doing all (or any…) of the reading, this is definitely not the case here. I considered my home college to be pretty work-intensive, but it’s nothing compared to my experience at Oxford. Luckily, I’m really interested in what I’m studying, so I actually enjoy spending copious amounts of time in the library. Additionally, the libraries here are BEAUTIFUL, which is an added bonus.
Another challenge for me is the lack of structure. At home, my days are spent with hours of classes, work, and meetings for different clubs. Here, with only one or two hours of classes each week, I find myself with a LOT of free time. I used to consider my self pretty good with time-management, but then again I’d never really had the opportunity to sleep in until noon (or later….) everyday like I do now. I think I’ve pulled more all-nighters here than I have in my entire life.
Despite the vast differences in academics between Oxford and Davidson, I love the change. However, for academics alone, I could not be more thankful that the term is only 8 weeks long. I’m not sure how much longer I can keep this up…