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Study Abroad and Domestic Study Away

Notes from Abroad: Noel in Oxford, England

Noel Orwothwun ’19, who is majoring in Economics and with minors in Computer Science and Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is studying at the University of Oxford in England.

Hi there!

My name is Noel Orwothwun and I am a senior currently completing tutorials in International Finance and Economics of Industry at the University of Oxford. This trip was coordinated by the Oxford Study Abroad Program (OSAP) in collaboration with the Office for Off-Campus Study, and was made more feasible through the Suzanne Hotchkiss travel grant - which I remain eternally grateful for.

This is not my first time studying abroad, as I am equally an international student at LFC, but it has certainly been an experience of its own calibre. Aside from close proximity to stereotypical British accents and English football, the depth of history evident in Oxford’s medieval architecture was a major impression which stood out to me. This conservative nature of Oxford’s environment extended all the way to my living area - an independent residential house within walking distance from Christ Church (the college I was assigned to), which comprised of a woody interior and abided a convention for non-lockable bedroom doors. On a side note: if you are a Harry Potter fan and happen to visit Christ Church, the dining hall is definitely a place not worth missing, since it has a reputation for being where one of the famous scenes was shot.

Another pattern hard to miss within the Oxfordshire area is how prevalent the international population is (predominantly due to the student body and short distance from London). Each time I walk or “mobike” (shared-cycle) around the city center, I am exposed to a wide set of non-english languages and fashion - which keeps the place interesting.

As far as academics are concerned, the tutorial system is living up to my expectation of “guided independent learning” thus far. Having to discuss my ideas every week, on a one to one basis with tutors who are leaders at the subject, felt a bit intimidating at the beginning, but has gradually grown inspiring the more I learn and build relationship with the tutors. A good part of the experience therefore depends on your tutor, but that is only as far as the meeting sessions are concerned. For the most part, you are expected to learn on your own using the vast wealth of academic material freely offered (or highly subsidized) by: the Bodleian libraries, subject-related lectures and presentations by different leaders, or even a simple discussion with fellow students. Just within the first two weeks of term, I had the privilege of freely attending lectures and discussions at different parts of the university led by leaders such as: the former Australia prime minister, former Deutsche bank CEO, the current president of Botswana, Dave Chappelle and Jon Stewart.

All the tutor does (at least in my case) is recommend readings or other material related to the area you choose to study, and then engages socratic discussion (usually led by the student) to assess his or her understanding and specific opinion. So most responsibility falls on to the student - who arguably gains the privilege of learning the subject topics more effectively. The  same proactivity has been required to participate in non-academic student activity - which for me has been through membership in: the Christ Church rowing team, African and Caribbean Society, as well as the Oxford Union.

The opportunity to study abroad in Oxford has not only been an adventure so far, but definitely a privilege which I significantly appreciate. London being just 1 hour away has also created opportunities to explore English areas outside of Oxford and quickly access other parts of Europe. If you thrive on independence, this is definitely a program to consider.