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Spotlight on our Students: Down the Rabbit Hole in Oxford

Chloe at St. Mary’s Church in Oxford, UK.

I am so grateful to the University Scholars Program for immersing me in diverse environments and learning activities which created skills that apply nicely to study abroad.”

In this edition of Spotlight on Our Students, we had a chat with Chole Tenn to learn more about her experience on the Oxford study abroad program this summer. This four-week study abroad program took Chloe to one of the most prestigious universities in the world and introduced her to the culture and history of the United Kingdom through courses, field trips, and daily life. Chloe is a rising sophomore University Scholar from Miami, Florida majoring in Biological Sciences. Read on to learn more about her adventures in Oxford.

USP: Chole, NC State has so many study abroad options, how did you decide on the Oxford program?

CT: As a STEM major with an affinity for reading and writing, I decided to pursue a minor in English. The University Scholars History and Shakespeare Abroad program offered me the opportunity to take classes towards my minor as well as embrace my love for authorship in a city renowned for legendary literature such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, and C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. I was motivated by my wanderlust as well as the curiosity of undergoing education not only in a classroom but also in an entirely new culture where experiential learning is forefront.

USP: And it’s such a great city to live in for a time! What are you looking forward to learning during your time there?

CT: I hope to cultivate an open-mindedness and refine my multicultural perspective about the United Kingdom and the people who live here as well as embrace a completely different lifestyle. I hope to foster relationships with my professors and fellow students and also balance this independence of traveling with the responsibility of studying. I also think it would be brilliant if I could assimilate some of the British slang and lingo into my vocabulary!

USP: In short, you want to do it all?! That’s the best way to approach study abroad. What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve encountered or done so far in the UK?

CT: We gallivanted to Harry Potter Studios, Roman Baths, Windsor (Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding site!), and London, and it is so hard to choose just one! I do believe that the most unique opportunity I have had in the United Kingdom was to take a 3-mile walk along the Port Meadow River in Oxford with other students in the program. We were able to pet a baby horse who managed to wander into our path! It was a beautiful scenic tour where we were able to observe locals jumping into the river from bridges, listening to music, or reading a book. I’ve returned twice already to read and swim in such a serene setting!

USP: That all sounds so idyllic and quintessentially English. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while studying abroad?

CT: Dealing with money and cash here was tricky at first because there are “old” and “new” versions of paper currency that are valid in certain areas of the country. Keeping a strict record of all my purchases every day helps me track my spending and makes budgeting easier. The currency is color-coded here which helps to identify different bills; sometimes I feel like I’m paying with Monopoly money!

USP: And budgeting your money is a valuable life lesson you can bring back with you to campus and in the future. how would you say your time in the University Scholars Program has helped prepare you for this unique experience?

CT: I am so grateful to the University Scholars Program for immersing me in diverse environments and learning activities which created skills that apply nicely to study abroad. For example, living in a suite in the Scholars Village helped me connect closely with my suitemates and create friendships as we all try and complete our Scholars events requirement. At Oxford, it is structured very similarly, a nice support system in place to have here while you are an ocean away from home as well as multiple excursions to go out and explore.

USP: It’s like a mini home away from home. That’s wonderful! What advice would you give other University Scholars who are interested in taking the leap into study abroad?

CT: To study abroad, you have to start early! Doing research and applying to a program is half the battle; being aware of where you are traveling and studying a bit about the culture beforehand will definitely help. (By the way, “queuing” means “waiting in line” and “cheers” means “thanks” in the UK). I also recommend traveling before or after the program dates because European countries are easily accessible by bus, train, or short flights and not terribly expensive depending on where you would like to go. Don’t waste any opportunities that go your way; if you want it, go for it!

USP: That’s fabulous. Take full advantage of the opportunities you have while on campus for sure. To close out, what’s the funniest intercultural exchange you’ve had so far while in the UK?

CT: England made it to the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup 2018 this year so a few students from the program decided to go watch it at a local pub. It was amazing to immerse ourselves in the sports culture with flags flying and crowds cheering. The funniest moment was when everyone stood up and began singing “God Save the Queen” and we were the only table to not know the words!

USP: HA! Well now you have a good reason to learn the words to that song, eh? Enjoy the rest of your time in Oxford and we’ll catch up with you again when you get back to NC State. Cheers!