When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Oxford, study. Danielle Yett, junior, spent the Fall semester in good ol’ Blighty as the natives affectionately call it.
Yett went through a study abroad program called SCIO (Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford) which is part of the larger CCCU (Council for Christian Colleges and Universities). She spent the better part of twelve weeks in Oxford and around England from early September to early December.
Oxford classes run on three 8-week trimester schedules as opposed to our semesters. The first four weeks were spent traipsing around the England, learning the rich history and culture of our neighbors across the pond. These field trips included excursions to the Roman ruins at St. Albans (Verulamium), Bath, the Hampton Court Palace (the residence of King Henry the VII), St. Paul’s Cathedral-London, and one of Yett’s favorite spots, the Imperial War Museum.
Of course, she got to know Oxford the best. Yett spoke fondly about the Evensong at Christ’s Church Cathedral, a daily service at the one of the Universities most famous churches. She enjoyed frequenting the local pubs with her chum’s as well, including the Eagle and Child, where C.S. Lewis and the Inklings would meet for a pint in the evenings.
There were about 65 students in the program with Yett. Interestingly enough, Oxford as a whole has more international students than British students. While some of the students from the program lived at the University in Wycliffe hall, Yett and about forty other students resided in a 300 year old Manor house a couple miles from town center called The Vines. She enjoyed the mile walk to and from each day with some of the other students, observing the iconic Oxford architecture.
Her group was made up of students from other Christian colleges across the U.S. Very few were from a Reformed background, and she found that some of the most stimulating conversations were with those from a very different viewpoints. At the start of her term she doubted whether she was up for it and wondered if this was really for her, but she quickly embraced the experience and through the encouragement of instructors and fellow students she took the work head on. She even joined a rowing crew while there.
Most of her time was spent in study, perhaps in an antiquated library or an old pub. SCIO offers courses in anything from politics to art. Yett, a Biblical theology and Humanities student at Providence, chose philosophy as her track and more specifically, tutorials in Aesthetics and Philosophy of Religion.
The work load for these two course were the equivalent to 17 credits. She would spend no less than two hours a week meeting one on one with the tutor. She was also responsible for incredible amounts of research, study, reading and a 7-8 page paper due weekly. Her and her tutor would go over the paper when she was done and discuss her work. She spent at least 20 hours (and one all-nighter) a week doing work outside of class, but especially as the term came to an end. For her final paper she had to write a 15 page research essay, she wrote on the role of narrative and ethics in community.
As Yett prepared for her time in England, she heard from multiple people that British people often come across as unfriendly. But she soon found, at least in her experience that this wasn’t true. The people were very welcoming, at least in Oxford, and she enjoyed the British culture as a whole. She found it to be rich, deep, and steeped (like a good cup of English Breakfast Tea) in history; possessing “a broader sense of the world” as she put it.
Yett was struck by how different the experience was from what she expected, but she felt prepared by Providence to engage and participate in the new culture. The program and Providence compliment each other well; Providence prepared her for the experience, and in turn, the experience made her appreciate Providence more.
Her Providence education stood up to the test and proved itself. While she enjoyed her time in ol’ Blighty, she is glad to be back at Providence for the spring semester. She said she missed the community here while she was gone. Well, Providence missed her, and we are happy to have her back.