Hello from England! I’ve arrived safely in Oxford and have finished my first week of classes. I’ve been in Oxford for nearly two weeks now, so it is time to start my study abroad blog.
I am in Oxford for two terms, Hilary and Trinity. During this term, Hilary, I am taking two engineering classes. My major course is on structural engineering, and my minor course is in sustainable energy, both of which are really exciting for me.
Taking classes at Oxford is very different from taking them at Smith. Here, there are lectures, classes, and tutorials. The lectures are with engineering majors from the whole university. Anyone can go to any lecture they want. Right now, I’m taking heat and mass transfer as review, and carbon storage and sequestration for my sustainable energy course. The lectures are very large, attendance isn’t taken, and people don’t ask questions unless they go talk to the lecturer at the end. These are generally in two week series, and they’re an hour long. There are also classes, which I haven’t been to yet. Apparently these are with the lecturer and people go over example problems in them. Then, finally, there are tutorials, which are within your specific college with a tutor. I had my first tutorial today. Before the tutorial, I did a problem set, learning the material as I went along. Then we went over the problem set, one-on-one, in the tutorial.
Before you get confused about the difference between colleges and universities, I’ll explain those to you as well. Oxford University is the overall school, and every person in it belongs to a college. The colleges have dorms, dining halls, chapels, libraries, and academic buildings, and are very small. My college, St. Edmund Hall (or Teddy Hall), has maybe 400-600 people in it. By the way, the picture at the head of this blog is of Teddy Hall.
Speaking of pictures, here are some I have taken during my time in Oxford. At the top left is All Soul’s college, which is usually closed by I passed by while it was open and got to explore. The picture below it is of part of Christ Church college. The dining hall of Christ Church is the inspiration for the Harry Potter movie dining hall, but I haven’t been inside to see it yet. The image to the right of those is the inside of the Radcliffe camera, which is a large, beautiful circular library. The picture on the bottom left is one I took in the Queen street cafe, the oldest coffee house in England. The picture to its right on the top is of a quote on the inside of the Eagle and the Child, which is famous because C. S. Lewis and Tolkien used to go there. Finally the picture on the bottom right is one I took from the highest point in Oxford, the tower on the University church. From it, you can see the outside of the Radcliffe camera and All Soul’s college from above.