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IFSA-Butler at Oxford University
Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University Header Image Institute for Study Abroad, Butler University Header Image

IFSA-Butler at Oxford University

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Community

    10

An academic experience like no other

When I hopped on a plane for the United Kingdom this past fall, I had no idea what to expect. I thought perhaps I might finally develop an appreciation for tea (I did), meet my fashion icon the Duchess of Cambridge in person (I didn’t), and acquire a passable British accent (the jury’s still out on this one). As I met the other members of my study abroad cohort, I became confident I would develop strong friendships and have wonderful, exciting adventures. What really took me by surprise, however, was my academic experience—my studies abroad at Worcester College, Oxford, were the most fulfilling and challenging of my life to date.

The University of Oxford has a tutorial system, which relies on one-on-one and small group teaching in combination with extensive independent work. This meant that, unlike at my university in the States, I had a considerable amount of free time that I could structure as I chose. I was able to develop a regular and consistent schoolwork schedule while simultaneously having more time for introspection and social engagements than I typically do at home. The tutorial time itself was stunningly fun. My tutors were interesting, passionate, and engaged in their subjects, and having the chance to spend time with them one-on-one on a weekly or biweekly basis was fantastic. While at Oxford, I felt that I was treated as an academic and scholar in my own right, not as a student; my ideas and arguments were respected, valued, and challenged just as the arguments of any other scholar would be.

I feel that this positive experience was very much a result not only of studying abroad at Oxford, but of doing so through IFSA-Butler. I felt that I was fully integrated into the community at my college, just as any other Oxford student would be. Neither my tutors nor other students treated me as though I was a tourist or a visitor; instead, they saw me as a true member of the university community. It was amazing to have the chance to form relationships and a second university home base at Oxford, and now that I’m gone, I miss it with all my heart. To anyone who is passionate about their academics and interested in taking their studies to the next level while also having amazing and grand adventures, I strongly recommend studying at Oxford through IFSA-Butler.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    9

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    9

Study abroad made easy

Last semester I studied abroad at Oxford University - St. Catherine's. I was really worried about studying abroad because prior to doing so, I had very little travel experience. I did not know how to navigate the various systems and logistics. IFSA-Butler was amazing! They made the entire process so easy. I had a great relationship with my study abroad advisor who was so easy to reach. They answered all my questions (and I had a lot) and were really good about explaining the processes and steps I needed to do. Furthermore, I really loved the orientation we had in London with all the other study abroad students in England. I particularly really enjoyed the session on cultural differences; it was really funny but also really informative. Once we got situated and moved into our dorms at Oxford, IFSA-Butler continued to maintain strong relationships. The staff would come from London to visit the Oxford students or pay for our bus tickets to come see them in London. They held various events going to museums, shows, and stadiums. They also handle a lot of the academic logistics such as requesting your classes (tutorials) from Oxford and handling your transcript. Overall, I'm so glad I decided to study abroad through IFSA-Butler and if I were lucky enough to do it over again I would most definitely still choose them.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Academics

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Cultural Immersion

    8

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Community

    10

Less like studying abroad and more like suddenly being English

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.