IFSA-Butler at Oxford University
Health and Safety
Less like studying abroad and more like suddenly being English
Submitted by thekelso - | August 01, 2012
Many study abroad programs, especially those advertised and run by individual universities, seem great at first. They're generally more affordable, and offer to have just as high quality a program as any others. But in my opinion, that's where they're wrong. I've compared my experience to those of some of my friends' with programs such as these, and though they enjoyed their experiences, I feel so very strongly that IFSA went that much further to ensure a quality experience. Here's why:
Through IFSA's Oxford program, you aren't bundled in a group of study abroad students. You aren't banished to a separate "international students" building or center, and you certainly aren't housed in a dorm off campus somewhere, with no English students to be found. On the contrary, you're welcomed with open arms by IFSA staff and especially Oxford staff and students. You're given full (and I mean FULL) student privileges in every single way– tutorials, lectures, library access, sports and organizations, resources, help if you need it, etc. We, all of us, honestly felt we weren't studying abroad, but spending a very abbreviated time as a regular student at another university.
And with that comes responsibilities. Not only were we given all rights and privileges, we were also expected to behave as real students. We never felt as though we were babied or bullied, being treated as equals with regular students, given full course loads, reading and writing assignments, and what not. It whips you into great study habits, and being in such close proximity with the "real" students totally reinforces that.
The living situations were figured out quickly and thoroughly, and let me tell you, they're wonderful. Single rooms for all students, meal stipends, and housekeepers. I felt more pampered than when I live at home! Everyone is so very friendly, and it made acclimating to a new city and country so much quicker than expected, and so thoroughly enjoyable.
All in all, I cannot stop raving about this program. When you look at the cost, it'll likely steal a couple breaths from you, especially compared to some of the budget programs out there. There isn't anything wrong with these programs, and in fact if it's what you want, that's awesome. I personally sought something a bit more involved. I wanted to be treated like a real student, and that's exactly what I got. As for the cost, it's quite a commitment. It can be tough when a lot of students are funded fully by their schools and/or parents (I'm not one of these), but I ensure you even if you're like me, the quality of this program has made the loans worth it, even now that it's over and I have only memories behind me and loan repayments ahead.
I could continue for pages, which I won't do, but if you are looking for something truly different, legitimately challenging, and unbelievably memorable, I promise you– you cannot go wrong with IFSA or with Oxford. They led me safely to a city I'd never been to before, taught us the ways of the students, the staff, and the country in general, encouraged us with all they have in them, made us laugh, made us comfortable, and gave us the knowledge to create our own experiences here. In the end, I feel like I didn't study abroad, I found a new place for myself in one of the world's oldest schools. And more importantly, a new home.