Predeparture Vibes and Other Unanswered Questions

Anna Alden
August 28, 2015

Hello everyone! My name is Anna and I will be studying abroad at Oxford University this fall! I am a junior at the University of Rochester majoring in English Literature, and I applied to this abroad program in my pajamas. Over this past winter break, my friends and I all decided we were going abroad. But of course, that requires actually applying, and what better time to do it than over a relaxing few weeks mostly spent overdosing on Netflix and hot chocolate? (That's where the pajamas come in.) (And when you're applying "just to see what will happen," pajamas just seem so much more appropriate...) Strangely enough, I had heard about this program when I was an incoming freshman, and I remember laughing about how cool it would be to actually get in. Two years later, I'm conveniently already laughing at my freshman self. 

Thanks to a lot of hard work and my amazing professors, what used to be an almost comically-inattainable goal has just recently become a reality; in one short week I will be boarding a plane en route to London, England, where I will take a three week introductory course. Following a long introduction will then be a short semester– Oxford’s fall semester (Michaelmas) begins in October, and ends in early December! But, in the meantime, I reside in the no man’s land of “Predeparture.”

Here is how I’m feeling: Will I have enough clothes? Will I have too many clothes? Will I forget my plug adaptor and blow up my hair drier? How many times will I have to encounter the British slang barrier (i.e. what are bangers and mash)? How can I become a world-class photographer in under seven days? Will the opportunity to babysit for the royal family ever arise? 

So. Many. Questions.

Here is what I know so far: There is a plane that will be flying to London. I will be on it. By then I will be well-versed in “as many books as you can read” for my introductory class, “Modern British Novels.” I will surprise myself with equal parts navigation success and navigation failure. And I will be studying amongst thousands of other Oxford students!

Though I have always loved taking classes at my American university, the University of Rochester, I am excited to see what a true Oxford experience will be like. Over the next few months, I hope to really broaden my horizons academically and expose myself to as much as I can. I am currently interested in pursuing a career in academia, so this is the perfect environment for me to explore my overwhelming (read: weird and obsessive) love for literary studies. Thousands of books later, I am sure that reading will take on a whole new form when I have the ability to experience the very birthplace of my favorite writers. Of course, in a primary study called “Nineteenth Century British Literature,” I seem to be all set!

With all that Oxford has to offer, I can’t see myself missing out on a single thing. (I’m also the kind of person who signs up for everything… good quality for abroad, right?) I have no doubts that this entire experience will be absolutely amazing– from more individualized learning to an emphasis on your final work, I’ll be immersing myself into a completely new culture and system of education. And of course, I’ll be sure to get at least a few of my many questions answered in the next few months. Wish me luck!



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Anna Alden

<p>I am a Literature major at the University of Rochester and am attending Oxford through IES Direct Enrollment in the fall semester of 2015. As an aspiring academic, I am far too invested in the contents of my bookshelf and can often be caught printing an extra copy of completed papers for my own safekeeping. I am fully prepared to take on a completely new and exciting abroad experience both in and out of the classroom, and my love for writing makes each experience even more exciting to share.</p>

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