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Considering Study Abroad in Oxford and Cambridge (page 3)

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jul 7, 2011

Studying American-style

Several institutions in the United States sponsor programs at Oxford and Cambridge. The experience provided by these programs is often not the same as it is when you're admitted via direct enrollment as a visiting student. Visiting student status means that visiting students have all the privileges and status of regular degree-seeking students, both within their college and throughout the university. The only restriction on visiting students is the Oxford and Cambridge rule that limits degree exams to full degree students only.

If you study with an American program that grants you associate student status, this means that that your privileges at the University are more limited than if you were a visiting student. You also have limited or no access to libraries, university facilities, or college grounds. Furthermore, you usually do not live in an Oxford or Cambridge college but rather off-campus with other Americans. If you chose to pursue one of these programs, you won't have a very authentic experience and you'll most certainly need to get the approval of your home university.

Butler University's Institute for Study Abroad has a visiting student program with several colleges at both Oxford and Cambridge and you can apply through Butler to several colleges. See www.ifsa-butler.org.

Getting social: The "scene" at Oxford and Cambridge

Some students find that the college they attended while at Oxford and Cambridge had a bustling social life, while others think the social scene was fairly boring or they had trouble making friends because of the tutorial system.

Firstly, the tutorial system at Oxford and Cambridge don't exactly make it easy to meet other students. You probably will only meet a handful of students in your tutorials, whereas in the U.S. it is easy to meet many other students who have class with you — class size at home is much better! Additionally, realize that much of the on-campus accommodation at Oxford and Cambridge are single, as opposed to shared, bedrooms. While this may be a nice break from having to share a small dorm room, it makes it very possible for you to go through your day with a limited amount of contact with other human beings!

Students who've studied at Oxford and Cambridge report that in general, you're going to have to be extra outgoing to make friends. The best way to meet people is through events sponsored within your college or by joining societies. One student joined as many as five societies in order to meet people! However, students who studied at either school for only one term explain that that limited amount of time (eight weeks) is really too short to get into societies and other social groups.

A great kick-off to the year and way to make friends happens in the fall during "Fresher's Week," which international students are invited to attend There's plenty of orientation sessions designed to introduce you to all aspects of college and university life. During this week, there will be a fair where most of the university societies, clubs, and sports teams have booths promoting their activities where you can sign up to join. While initially this sounds appealing and as if you'll emerge from Fresher's Week with many new-found friends, realize that the primary audience for Fresher's Week is first-year students and you're probably a junior. Students report that it is difficult to find Oxford and Cambridge students who are third years; students your own age have already formed their social cliques.

Students who did not live within a college at Oxford and Cambridge, and for one reason or another, lived away from campus, highly advise against this choice if you're hoping to have a social life. Most students who live off-campus find it difficult to be part of the social life when living off campus and don't feel 100 percent a part of the community — they report going into college just for tutorials and computer access.

Another social trap to be extra careful of at Oxford is Cambridge is the tendency to hang out with other American visiting students. There are so many Americans at Oxford and Cambridge that it is easy to find them and stick with them as opposed to meeting native or other international students. And, this tendency will cheat you out of part of the experience of living in England.

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