Program alumni are the best resources for students interested in going abroad, and they are available to answer your questions. If you would like to talk to a recent student about their experience in Oxford, please feel free to contact us.

Student smiling in front of mossy stone architecture

Isabelle Job, Bates College, Spring 2023

Oxford, also known as the “The City of Dreaming Spires,” is a truly magical place. I studied in Oxford for my Junior Winter semester abroad and returned in the summer for the Middlebury Museum Studies in Oxford program. Participating in both programs allowed me to explore my academic interests inside and outside the classroom while spending time in Oxford, London, and beyond.

During the Winter semester (or Hilary Term), I participated in Oxford’s tutorial system by taking two classes relating to my area of interest, art history. During my tutorial classes, I met one-on-one with Oxford-based tutors (or Dons) who catered each course to my individual interests. I made valuable connections with these tutors and with their guidance, I had the opportunity to look at old manuscript books in Oxford collections. These tutorials also taught me how to effectively write and research in a short period of time. While exploring such fascinating topics with Oxford tutors, experts in their field of study, you fully immerse yourself in the subject matter making you feel like a true scholar!

While the academics at Oxford are rigorous, there are many things to do outside of the classroom. I immersed myself in the Oxford student body by joining societies, such as the Tea Society, and attending speaker events at the world-renowned Oxford Union. I also attended Oxford’s annual balls, formal hall dinners, Keble College JCR events, and an art history lecture series. During a typical day, I explored Oxford by roaming the ancient streets, visiting the colleges, learning in museums, or enjoying an afternoon tea or coffee in one of Oxford’s many cafés. Every day I would choose one of the many libraries the university has to offer for my study sessions. My favorite library is the Radcliffe Camera, most often called the ‘Rad Cam.’ I spent many days studying in the Rad Cam or exploring the Gladstone Link looking for books. Finding a new book in an Oxford library often feels like a quest for a hidden treasure!

My time in Oxford participating in the Middlebury-CMRS semester and Museum Studies program was very influential during my college experience. If you are a student who loves to learn in an ancient city environment where you can explore anything that interests you, Oxford is the perfect place for you!

Student singing in the choir in Oxford robes

Sam Habib, Middlebury College, Academic Year 2022-23

An absolute dream. Yes, I know it’s stereotypical to say that of a place like Oxford, but it could not be more accurate. Participating in the M-CMRS program was one of the best decisions I made as a student and a person.

Starting with the student side, the program bolsters your academic independence through their one-on-one tutorials, primarily their seminar and research papers. I chose to go to Oxford as a sophomore and was the only one in the cohort in any class of 2025. This set me apart from my peers as I had less academic and life experience than them. However, the incredible M-CMRS staff were accommodating and constantly aware of my academic level, with the academic committee considering that when moderating my grades. The individualized style of the program was primarily a shock to me at first, barely coming out of my first year and being thrust into a paper I had to write by myself. Even though it felt like sink or swim, my supervisor (and the M-CMRS Principal) was always able to help me, the slightly too-fresh sophomore. The first paper I wrote there was even accepted a couple of conferences, and I got a conference abstract published out of it, something I never would have dreamed of while I was a freshman. Incredibly impressive of the M-CMRS staff was how they catered to my (and many other students’) special interests. I was concerned going in that the course would be Eurocentric; however, I was able to write both of my research papers on Islamic and Middle Eastern cultures, take a class on the Crusades, and the M-CMRS even created a particular history tutorial for me on the Lebanese Civil War! It can be tough to jump into a more individual learning style, mainly when used to the US teaching style, but the experience will develop you as a student and person.

Outside the cozy confines of St. Michaels Hall (the M-CMRS building), Oxford had much to offer. I was lucky enough to be able to join the Harris Manchester College Choir, another college part of the University of Oxford. I found a community of friends and even made a couple of college besties there. While it was outside Keble and utterly separate from the cohort of study abroad students with me, it was amazing to make connections outside of my college bubble. It was saddening to see that many students did not join societies, clubs or teams within the University of Oxford. However, if you want the complete experience Oxford can offer, it is necessary to do that! My college choir gave me free formal dinners every week, so I had the lovely excuse to get dressed up and walk over to Harris Manchester with a bottle of wine in hand.

Besides college choir, I got up to a lot of other fun in Oxford. My friends and I, inside and outside M-CMRS, would regularly go out and experience Oxford’s nightlife. The city offers a lovely assortment of pubs and a few clubs for those who wish to partake. However, the cafes around Oxford provide excellent daytime hang-out spots and usually a decent cup of coffee, too. Or I’d get up to something more exciting by climbing into a boat and punting to celebrate a completed paper or exam with my friends! Oxford is your oyster, and it is up to you to get out there and explore all it has to offer. It can seem daunting, especially if you have not been outside the US or have never visited the UK before, but putting yourself out into Oxford will allow you to enjoy it properly.

So, overall, I can’t recommend the M-CMRS program enough; it is packed with excellent academic staff and a host of opportunities for us students to get out into Oxford and meet amazing people. I have become a better student through this program and, hopefully, a bit of a better person, too!

A student smiling next to a canal

Alyssa Cruz, University of San Francisco, Spring 2022

Imagine waking up every day and making an important decision: which library should I visit today?

Oxford is not a big city. It’s crammed with libraries, colleges, coffee shops, and small stores. It’s full of aspiring academics, high achievers, and dreamers. It’s a world of its own. My time at Oxford was marked by days spent at the library- hearing the collective sighs of students-, day trips to nearby cities, and rehearsals. I played the roles of model and tourist in a production by the Oxford University Light Entertainment Societies (OULES). I attended several college dining halls and met students from all over the UK. Occasionally, we would venture out to cake shops, Port Meadow, or late-night McDonalds runs. For anyone planning on applying to the program or awaiting their arrival date, I highly recommend researching and joining one or two societies (clubs) early on in the term. It is an excellent opportunity to meet students and hear their recommendations for the best kebab food truck in town. 

While the city and university have a lot to offer, there were times when I felt lonely. Oxford is an academically challenging institution, but it is definitely not known for its diversity. Finding your group can be difficult. Ninety-nine percent of the time I was the only Hispanic in the room. This should not be a deterrence. In fact, I became more introspective and culturally aware of the country and city I was in. In more ways than one, Oxford was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It truly was a wonderful program and a privilege to walk those streets, enrich my knowledge, and grow as a person.

Middlebury CMRS Humanities program student Rebecca Leppert studying abroad in Oxford

Rebecca Leppert, George Washington University, Academic Year 2019-2020

There is something inexplicably magical about studying in Oxford. I grew to love the city and the University’s inspiring spirit of academic curiosity during my time at CMRS –– so much, in fact, that I decided to return to the program for a second term.

I was humbled and excited to learn in a city with some of the world’s brightest minds. The tutorial system offered an unparalleled learning experience with expert instruction from Oxford tutors and CMRS staff. My courses were intellectually stimulating, pushing me to think critically and mature as a writer. Yet scholastic pursuit often continued outside the classroom in Oxford. I appreciated the unique opportunities to attend my tutor’s film screening on the mystical-theologian Hadewijch and to visit St. Frideswide’s shrine at Christ Church with my medieval monasticism tutor.

While I spent many hours befriending books inside the stunning RadCam or rummaging for sources in the Bodleian underbelly (aka the Gladstone Links), I explored the city beyond the Radcliffe Square hub. Sunny days were best spent with friends punting along the River Cherwell, picnicking in University Parks, and trekking through Port Meadows to enjoy the cozy Trout Inn Pub. Oxmas dinner, touring the Oxford University Press, and watching Prince William open Keble’s new H B Allen Centre were a few highlights of my unforgettable Oxford experience. I collected train ticket stubs from trips around the UK to Edinburgh, Bath, Norwich, Highclere Castle, and, of course, London! CMRS also organized field trips to places like Stonehenge and Stratford-upon-Avon.

At the end of the day, I was happy to return to the comfort of the JCR community where we made meals and shared game nights together. I cherished my year in dear Oxford and am grateful to have called this city and St. Michael’s Hall my home abroad.

Middlebury CMRS Humanities program student Ben Beese Oxford

Ben Beese, Middlebury College, Academic Year 2019-2020

A typical day starts with breakfast, quietly watching the sun rise between the various “dreaming spires.” After some beans on toast, I quickly make my way past no less than four colleges and a 300-year-old market (good for fancy chocolates and cheese) to the Bodleian Library, a repository of nearly every book published in English and a fair amount of students’ tears. A morning of reading Hegel ends in time for a quick lunch before rushing down High Street to Queen’s College (a personal favorite, architecturally) to discuss my latest essay with my tutor. 

There’s no way to generalize what a tutorial looks like but it’s always some mix of terror and exhilaration. Tutors tease the week’s lesson out of you through careful questioning. You place your ideas on the table and your tutor critiques here, encourages there, and helps you place them in a respectable academic context. A class fails or succeeds on your willingness to play with the ideas in your readings. Oftentimes, a tutorial leaves me drained which is more than enough of an excuse for a cup of tea or coffee at one of the countless, brilliant coffee shops. I’ll start my next paper while caffeinating.

Dinnertime in the CMRS common room is a mélange of varying culinary talents and overlapping conversations about medieval eschatology, Viking epics, literary theory, or God knows what else. Conversations will travel late into the night unless interrupted by a movie, a pub trip, or pure exhaustion.

This schedule is regularly broken by newspaper lay-ins, church breakfasts, parties, day trips across the country, formal dinners at Keble, and much else. From the city (consisting almost entirely of cafes, gardens, and bookstores), to the people (as friendly and encouraging as anyone I’ve met), Oxford is the perfect place to embrace your inner intellectual.

Student smiling by the door marked Keble College

Bennett Pienkowski, Middlebury College, Academic Year 2018-2019

It seems wise to be critical, or at least aware, of the social, intellectual, and even physical ‘bubbles’ that we build in our lives. That being said, my time at CMRS in Oxford has helped me to appreciate the other side of this proverbial coin. Bubbles can also allow for otherwise impossible experiences and educational opportunities.

Oxford is a city and a university filled with professional academics and brilliant students all deeply committed to every possible field of study. Most mornings, afternoons, and evenings offer the chance to attend lectures by some of the world’s most influential thinkers, business leaders, and politicians. In terms of pedagogy, Oxford’s hallmark is the tutorial system whereby students engage with instructors in weekly one-on-one meetings. It’s hard to imagine just how stimulating, difficult, and rewarding this class-structure is. The first time one of your essays is analytically torn to shreds, it is incredibly jarring, but when you come to realize just how effective the experience was at helping you to uncover the flaws in your thought processes and argumentation, you don’t want education to take any other form.

Middlebury’s CMRS program is entirely devoted to the humanities, located in a quirky building at the very heart of the city-center, and staffed by professionals well-versed not only in their respective fields but in the precarious art of British wit. You spend a lot of time with your fellow CMRS students, certainly more of a blessing than a curse, and you have access to an in-house library that contains the most essential volumes of early western literature and theory. The culture of CMRS is nicely captured by the image of students checking out Machiavelli or The Song of Roland while bleary-eyed and still in their pajamas, an amusingly frequent occurrence.

There are plenty of distinguishing aspects of the place that have gone unmentioned: the architecture, the ubiquitous attention to history, the unparalleled Bodleian library system, to name just a few. Even so, I think it is fair to say that Oxford and CMRS are indeed bubbles. I would encourage anyone to go and find out just what formative, engaging, and ultimately indispensable places bubbles can be.

Student posing in Oxford

Amanda Westcott, St. Olaf College, Spring 2018

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.” 

Student smiling at a cafe, cup in hand

Jacqueline Moruzzi, Washington & Lee University, Spring 2017

“I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful.” W.B.Yeats

While I can attest that I did more there than just dream, Yeats’s words capture the wonder of the city. Upon my arrival, I was immediately struck by its beauty; it is architecturally stunning. Its aesthetic loveliness roused me from my jet-lag on the bus there from the airport. In days and weeks after, I learned more about the fascinating culture and ambiance of the city. In addition to my gratitude for being in such an aesthetically and culturally rich place, I was thankful for CMRS and the opportunities in which I was able to partake. I joined the social running club and happily made friends both within and outside of the program through running. Academically, the workload was rigorous and demanding. At first, many of us were intimidated; however, the kind faculty assured us that we were all capable of handling it and should we need any guidance or advice, they were always there to help. I found both to be true. I am so grateful for the opportunity to partake in a very different academic structure and culture from that which students are used to in American universities. My home institution doesn’t offer courses in Celtic studies, so the opportunity to have ‘Celtic Middle Ages’ as one of my tutorials was wonderful! I enjoyed spending hours reading about the week’s topic and my tutor was very knowledgeable and engaging. Overall, even if I were to write an entire paper on my time in Oxford at CMRS, it would not be sufficient: I’m not sure I would be able to adequately express how wonderful my time there was in every respect.

Student smiling with their head turned to the left

Mia Guild, Wellesley College, Academic Year 2014-15

It’s 9am and I stroll to the Radcliff Camera to begin my tutorial readings. The narrow cobblestone streets are nestled in between limestone, gothic colleges as the morning light kisses the tress in the colleges’ gardens. My time in the library is focused as I delve into John Locke’s Treatises of Government. Last week it was Hobbes’s Leviathan. The Rad Cam is my favorite place to study. The natural light brightens the room, highlighting the beautiful architectural details of the domed ceiling. There’s a sense that many leaders, thinkers, and writers-as students- spent hours in this centuries-old space enthralled by the leather bound books.

I take my study break at Vaults & Gardens, a café nestled under the University Church. The café’ is in Oxford University’s first listed Old congregation house built in 1320 and serves the best cream tea. 

I begin my paper carefully crafting an introduction because my tutor and I have been working on improving introductions in my papers. With Oxford’s writing intensive curriculum and the opportunity to work one-on-one with a tutor each week, my writing has improved ten-fold. A few days later I step foot in a tutorial. They can be intimidating but often they are engaging and challenging, exercising my brain in a new way. To me, what was most remarkable about the tutorial system was the personal relationships I developed with my tutors.

I have a busy afternoon and evening. I head to my field hockey match where Keble is playing in the Cupper’s final. I love the low-key, friendly competition between the 38 colleges and all the social events and activities that go hand with hand with college sport teams. That evening I’ve booked into formal dinner at Keble. Dinner is in Keble dining hall, with fully set long tables and ornate stained-glass windows. After I get together with friends from CMRS, Keble, and new friends from other American college and maybe begin a pub-hop. Oxford is full of old pubs, each of which has their own history, stories, personality, and specialty.

As I reflect on my time at Oxford, I write this with nostalgia but also with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. At Oxford I became more confident. I grew as a student. I met new people, friends, and mentors. My time at Oxford helped me realize what my strengths were. My time was full of growth, adventure, and experiences.