Amanda Westcott, Oxford

St. Olaf College

My time studying in the city of “dreaming spires” is difficult to summarize in just a few hundred words. I was amazed by Oxford’s wonderful assortment of people and buildings, young and old, both modern and ancient – like a large outdoor museum! Moreover, my experiences with peers and tutors were very memorable. 

I quickly realized what a welcoming community of learners I had joined – from Middlebury and all over the world. The program was close-knit and had a lively Facebook group that shared invitations to lectures, pub quizzes, and afternoon teas. St. Michael’s Hall supported a cozy atmosphere with kind faculty and the occasional late-night essay-writing session. But, I was always in the company of friends who were also writing essays and willing to take breaks to hit up the closest food truck with me. (Posh Nosh has amazing curry fries, by the way.)

Though the academics were demanding, I could take courses for my major and also indulge other interests, such as English literature. Tutorials were challenging but friendly environments where I conversed freely about the readings and improved my writing skills.

On top of that, I attended weekly rehearsals and performed every Sunday Evensong for Brasenose Chapel Choir. We would normally have dinner together each week, too. These are not your average dining halls, either. I also spent many a brunch with friends in the Keble dining hall, marveling at the long tables and tall, decorated ceiling, as well as the traditional English breakfast in front of me. 

I traveled outside of Oxford, too, and took a few trips to places like Edinburgh, Cardiff, Blenheim Palace, and Highclere Castle. CMRS organized additional day-trips, and together, we toured Windsor Castle, saw Twelfth Night in Stratford, and visited Wells Cathedral. 

I loved my semester abroad – so much so that I’m returning for the summer Museum Studies program. There is so much more I could describe but suffice to say it was a rewarding experience… one of many dreams among the “dreaming spires.”