Saturday, July 21, 2012

I come into the Peace of Wild Things (Post deadline)

The University of Oxford has long held the torch as being one of the oldest universities in the world (the first, actually, in the English-speaking world). With records dating as far back to the mid to late 11th century, Oxford has played an important role in the tradition of education and lifelong success for the established elite members in the upper echelon of English society - a tradition that has now, over the years, morphed into the acceptance and granted privilege of education to all the differing classes of the population.

Having known a little about this long history of the University, I boarded the train out of Paddington Station in London with the expectation of visiting a grand, awe-inspiring campus full of old buildings and miles upon miles of rolling lawns and gardens,  and that is exactly what I got… well, to a degree, in any case. The buildings were the older and long established foundations that I had being envisioning (full of beautiful architecture) however, they were not grouped together in a high towering construct that would produce a sense of apprehension in the onlookers but rather were separated into different colleges dispersed and incorporated throughout the entire city of Oxford. In this way, the University has become very much a part of the daily lives of the citizens of the city and has created a connection and the feeling of shared camaraderie with all the individual members.
The vast differences in the means of teaching styles and campus life between Oxford and my own University - San Diego State - remain the most memorable aspects of the trip. Coming from a campus wherein the sheer amount of students can become a bit overwhelming, it was calming to visit another campus with a smaller student body. Another aspect that I found immensely favorable was the reality at Oxford where the class sizes were infinitely smaller with more of an ability to have a one on one focused tutoring with a professor or even supervised individual work. The opportunity the students have of beautiful gardens to walk around and get lost in, or even find a quiet corner to study in is another element that I am not ashamed to say that I envy. It was a rather Herculean effort on my part to turn around and leave the peace of the trees and flowers.   

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