The date is 28 July 2014. A group of San Diego State University students got to visit the famous Oxford University.
Our group got off the train, ready to see what another university was like. The first thing to notice, is that the atmosphere is different. The air is filled with a laid back feel. There isn't the same hustle and bustle that London has. There are not as many people and they move around at a slower pace.
Why would this be? Well, this is a college town. The students have worked their way hard to study here. Our professor, John Makey, described the process. He said students in high school complete the equivalence of a high school diploma in America by the age of 16. Then, for the next 2 years, the students are more focused on their A level classes which, basically, completes the equivalence of the General Education Requirements at SDSU. This is all before the students complete high school.
Then, once accepted into college, the students focus more on their subject they have worked on since their A levels for the next 3 years. This is all they study once they are accepted into a university. Makey explained that the students get the same tutor for all three years and work primarily by themselves with papers. There really aren't classes for them to attend as all the work they do is on their own.
This means that the students are pretty much left on there own with out any rushes. They do not have tests to prepare for nor do they need to worry about multiple classes. This leads to the feeling of a relaxed atmosphere as the students do not have a time crunch. By the time they get to university, their studies should be something they desire to work on. This means that is really isn't "work" to them as it is something their passionate about. It becomes more fun than tedious school work.
The students are definitely lucky to go to such a magnificent "campus." Oxford University has over 30 different colleges that students get to choose from. The buildings are old and the age shows. The sculptures are weathered enough to show age and just symbolize the majestic beauty.
However, when walking through the streets, one could not help to feel but alienated. There was a sense of... pretentiousness in the air. I couldn't help but notice that there was a distinction between those that attend the university and those that are visiting. Those that went to the university hardly looked twice at you. They passed by you without even making way for you on the sidewalk. Though this could be because they lead such a solitary life at the university, it just became the norm.
Not only did the students not want you there, but neither did the grass!
|The sign says, "KEEP OFF THE LAWN"|
This was just a not so subtle reminder that you didn't belong.
Now, this lead me to wonder if SDSU gave the same sort of vibes.
SDSU is also a beautiful campus.
It may not be as old as Oxford, but it captures the essence of San Diego, California. San Diego was started by missionaries and the school reflects that just as Oxford reflects the scholars who attended the school. The school itself can have a very laid back feel. We are by the beach and have the best weather.
The students do not get an assigned tutor for their duration at SDSU and they must work hard to pass tests as well as papers during the year.
However, there isn't a sense of hierarchy on campus. I can't tell if one student is a freshman or senior. All of us are welcoming and help each other out in the community because we have all been in each other's shoes. Some of us might have been partying a little too much in Greek Row and forgot about the test. Other probably have been studying for ages and still don't understand the material. Some of us might not have been prepared for 500 people classes and feel overwhelmed. Either way, we stick together and help each other through.
The city of Oxford was built around the university. SDSU was built within a city. This creates a noticeable difference when walking around the university. There are several college students around, but also people from the city. The people mingle and talk and the surrounding area becomes a more accepting place than at Oxford. We are taught to work together at SDSU and that shows up within our community.
So the big question: Which university is better? Oxford or SDSU?
In my opinion, SDSU wins.
Oxford has a great history and has produced many scholars, but the school is too isolating for me. The students don't really interact and the town is very uninviting. You are on your own once accepted and that is not always for the best.
In America's world today, you will always have someone or other people to work with. Most of our jobs consist of working with others to advance and prosper. We need to be social and find ways to communicate in order to succeed, and I believe SDSU helps us achieve that school in and out of class. SDSU is not perfect, but I believe, given these options, that I picked the best school for me.
SDSU: I believe that we will win the fight against Oxford!