If you’re not familiar with the tutorial system at Oxford, here’s a quick synopsis: we have tons of readings and a paper due every week, but the only time we actually have to be anywhere is a one-hour session with our tutor to discuss all of our work, at the end of each week. Sounds easy enough, right? While having an open schedule can sound nice, it is also pretty daunting; essentially I have no time limits on any of the work I do, besides that one due date at the end of each week. It was a little scary at first, since I’m used to a much busier schedule that prompts me to get all of my work done, but I’ve found that I truly have the time to invest myself in every topic here. With a lot of independent study, it helps to be really motivated by and interested in your subject.
Of course, this is Oxford, so just because nothing is required doesn’t mean that’s all we’ll do! Along with my weekly meetings, my tutor also referred me to the Undergraduate English Language and Literature lecture list. Basically, these lectures are just like a usual class at any American university, but they involve little to no participation— that’s for your tutorial— and… you don’t have to go to a single one. Once you get past your first year, no one will care that you’ve gone to lectures; they’re there to be taken advantage of as you see fit. Of course, full-time Oxford students do have their exams to think about, but like a large lecture in the US, no one’s about to take attendance down, so really it’s completely up to you.
Like the irrationally dedicated student I am, I attend them faithfully.
And truly, I’ve learned about even more than nineteenth-century literature by attending lectures here at Oxford. When it comes to school in the US, or really any other school for that matter, attending class and participating enough is a never-ending list of requirements. Sometimes, we can forget all about why we chose to study what we do, and we start going to class just for the sake of getting our name down on an attendance sheet, or keeping our grade in a desired range. At a university where nothing is required and no one will be knocking points off, you’re inclined to go to a lecture simply because you love the topic, and this is the type of knowledge you want to pursue. So, when Oxford students are presented with an endless list of lectures they don’t have to go to, they go to every single one, because isn’t your love for and interest in your subject the very reason you’re studying it at all?
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<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>