Summer 2023: Rams in Oxford
WHAT: This summer faculty-led program allows University Honors Program students and high achieving English majors/minors to take an individualized course with Oxford affiliated faculty for one-on-one tutorials in their field of interest. Additionally, students will experience Shakespeare off of the written page.
WHEN: Summer 2023
WHERE: This program will take place in Oxford, England, about an hour and a half outside of London. Possible field trips during this summer session include Windsor Castle, the reconstructed Globe Theater, Bath, and various sites around Oxford. Students will also have the chance to see Stratford-upon-Avon to see Shakespeare’s birth and burial place.
PROGRAM LEADER: Dr. Aparna Gollapudi, Professor of English at Colorado State University and affiliate of the University Honors Program.
Student Reflections: Experiential Blog Posts
Joya Haskin (she/her)
Major: English Education
Hometown: Johnstown, Colorado
If you were to ask young 10-year-old me if she ever thought she would be studying at Oxford University, she would probably disappointedly say, “Probably not.” Like many kids or parents of kids who dreamed they would study at Harvard or Yale, 10-year-old Joya was obsessed with Oxford University and visiting the United Kingdom. However, I never thought of it as an actual possibility. Even now, sitting in the Radcliffe Library at Oxford University, I still cannot believe that I made it a decade later (even if it is only for part of the summer).
I have tried really hard to keep my expectations as reasonable as possible out of fear that I would be disappointed with my time here, but so far, my (relatively high) expectations have been met and exceeded. It could be the rose-colored glasses, but walking along the streets of Oxford, especially along the colleges and Bodleian libraries, feels a lot like stepping into a fantasy world with the old stone architecture within the city.
While I know this trip will come with a lot of work to complete, I almost look forward to completing the work because of the environment in which I get to complete the work. Being surrounded by ancient texts and so many books within any of the libraries makes me want to do my absolute best; to prove that I could belong at the university.
I look forward to seeing how the rest of the trip goes and I hope to one day return here; maybe as a full-time student.
Aimee White (she/her)
Major: Creative Writing
Hometown: Denver, Colorado
I’m proud to be representing the Rams all the way over the Atlantic here in Oxford in the Shakespeare in Oxford study abroad program! If you’re thinking about studying abroad here in the UK here are some of the things I first noticed:
1. One of the first things I noticed is that there are two different taps for water. There is one for hot water and another for the cold water. While in some places in the States (what British people call the USA) have different taps, it’s not that common. However, in the UK, this is extremely common and is considered abnormal if there is only one tap. Here is a picture of the tap in my toilet or water closet (they don’t use the words bathroom or restroom).
2. One of my major worries coming to a different country on a different continent was my diet. Being a vegetarian, sometimes eating out and making a variety of meals, limits my options quite a lot. If you are also vegetarian or vegan, don’t worry about your meal options. Although you won’t be able to eat the more traditional British dishes like Fish & Chips (fried fish and French fries) or Bangers & Mash (sausage and mashed potatoes), there are plenty of options for you. A staple in any pub is chips (French fries) so that’s always an option if you end up going out. I recently went to a restaurant called The Breakfast Club, over half of the menu was vegan and vegetarian.
3. The last thing I came across very quickly is that many towns are often called villages rather than cities, as the only towns called cities are those that used to have markets, such as London. Oxford and other small towns are called villages, not cities.
Nox Carmenate (they/them)
Major: Creative Writing and Linguistics
Hometown: Aurora, Colorado
The first couple of weeks at Oxford are over and done with. Now with feet firmly planted in Oxford, the program is proving to be an amazing challenge and experience. My time is often spent in either the Bodleian libraries (typically the Radcliffe Camera) or New College Library. When not in the libraries, I spend time hanging around the city center either in pubs with the rest of the OSAP crew or a few of my flatmates in cafes.
While actually studying in the libraries is great and when the times are right occasionally magical the walks through the city are some of the best experiences. My daily average of steps rocketed when I got to the city, and it’s stayed that way ever since. Something that I really enjoy about walking around is being able to take in lovely, ancient architecture alongside modern buildings and signs. There’s an oddly graceful collision of old and new that creates its own unique charm. Walking to the Blackwell’s café is a great start to the day. It’s hard not to fall in love with walkable cities, for me at least.
At the midpoint of the trip, there is still so much to look forward to. There are so many more steps to be taken and new places to explore. Walks through the city are amazing reprieves from the days sitting in libraries getting work done, or fun shared experiences with fellow students as you make your way through the city.
More at Home: Small Joys and Big Adventures
Ali Niaz (he/him)
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
The Oxford study abroad program is academically strenuous. The tutorial is an Oxford level course and there’s a lot of research, reading, and writing. I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that a lot of our week looks like this picture right here.
A book, teasing me to indulge in its poetic mysteries, a journal with scribbles of thoughts, and an open laptop with somewhat coherent sentences being formed.
But don’t worry, I haven’t just been studying. I’ve been abroad-ing as well.
The weekends have been my usual time to explore the UK, and perhaps one of my favorite adventures thus far has been our trek to Wales.
We got off our train and were greeted by rain in the Welsh capital, Cardiff. The rain lingered for all of Saturday, but that didn’t stop us from exploring the city.
We traversed through Cardiff Castle and climbed its spiral staircase to the top of its clock tower. The astronomical artwork inside blew my mind.
We also made our way to the Llandaff Cathedral, and though I was soaking, the rain made the church look even more stunning.
At the time I’m writing this, there’s only about a week and a half left of the program and I’m thankful for the strenuous academic environment that has made me a better writer, the “only-a-train-away” countries I’ve been able to visit, and for my fellow CSU students that came with me on this trip. It wouldn’t be the experience it’s been without them.
The weekend-long breaks from school have been some of my favorite memories on this program, and the friends that come along with me on these trips, my favorite traveling partners.
After all, I’m a firm believer of “it’s not what you’re doing, it’s who you’re doing it with.”
Payton Parker (she/her)
Major: English Education
Hometown: Longmont, Colorado
The rainy weather has not stopped us from adventuring throughout Oxford this summer, despite all its efforts. On one of the precious sunny days, a few friends and I from the program decided to do our own grand day out and venture to Port Meadow to see some wild horses. Having grown up wanting to be a cowgirl (specifically wanting to learn to play the guitar and wear cowboy boots like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton) this was a very exciting prospect. The walk there was beautiful, the sheer amount of geese and other birds was frightening, and it seemed like all the cats of the neighborhoods were coming out to greet us!
Once we arrived at Port Meadow, we were greeted with a vast open landscape of grasses and animals galore. The sun was setting, and it cast an orange glow, illuminating all of the beautiful foliage, and of course, the horses grazing throughout. We were immediately greeted by a little black horse, who we affectionately called Tom, or Edward, or Harry? (We couldn’t decide on the best British name for him) and he let us pet him and then followed us around till her eventually got bored. We kept walking toward the larger groups, and saw some huge horses, one looked like she was pregnant, but I wasn’t about to ask her if she was (that is just etiquette after all). The teen horses were giving us the eyes, and one even walked up to a group of people picnicking and decided he would join them in their meal.
Knowing that this beautiful meadow was only a 20-minute walk from our flat makes me feel insanely lucky to be here. The amount that I have seen even within a 3-mile radius of the Oxford city center has been immense, and I have truly loved being able to explore and see the beauty of a place that I may not have been able to otherwise.
Braden Bomgaars (he/him)
Major: English Literature and Political Science
Hometown: Loveland, Colorado
Promptly proficient or gloriously inept? When punting, there’s no way to know as a first-time chauffeur what you’ll be – but aspirations of putting poetry in motion will compel you to try regardless.
Boarding the punt, you're briefed by the virtuoso on the authoritative technique. You’ll glean from their jaunty tone, rapid delivery, and wry grin, that irrespective of their extensive guidance, the only way you’ll acclimate is by trying. Initially awkward and stiff, like clumsy first steps you’ll laugh at your own unfamiliarity; however, quickly remembering to just “coast,” you’ll find yourself gliding as seamlessly as the current.
And yet, on occasion, when you press into a patch of mud, the riverbed will feel like it’s trying to swallow you whole. Imposterism will be ushered in by images of inadequacy delivered on the tongues of laughing passers-by, and as you look down for confirmation that your hands are still holding the pole, your reflection will ask you what you’re doing. But you’ll buckle your knees and tighten your grip, and in the solace of an assuaging release, you’ll be reminded of your own capacity.
Or you’ll find yourself in the unrelenting clutches of mischievous stray logs playing along the banks. But after an exasperated breath and airy chuckle with your party, you’ll realize the Cherwell has merely asked you to stop and chat with the locals: geese whose gentle, glossy gazes remind you it doesn’t always have to be complicated – sometimes you can just be present and that is enough.
Through the collective heave and ho of your fellow voyagers, you’ll find yourself back in transit, and eventually, reunited with the shore from which you originally departed. Your feet may take a moment to readjust, and you may even be immediately desirous to reembark, but find content in revisiting rhythms with newly syncopated steps.
Oxford: Looking Back and Going Forward
Elizabeth Host (she/her)
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Before traveling to Oxford, England, I found myself concerned about the limitations of staying in only one city while I visited the United Kingdom. I had looked up the population size of the city of Oxford and was shocked to discover that it was smaller than our beloved college town of Fort Collins. Yet, when I arrived in Oxford, I was baffled by the size of the city and the constant flow of travelers and residents crowding the sidewalks. Not only will the number of people stun any visitor, but also the infinite amount of beautiful architecture.
During my 5 weeks in Oxford, I spent my free time exploring the city and searching for the best views. My favorite viewpoint was looking at the Radcliffe Camera library and All Souls College from the top of St. Mary’s church. Not only was the view gorgeous and provided a 360˚ view of the city, but the climb up the tiny, twisting staircase to the balcony made the adventure that much more fun.
Behind the Radcliffe Camera sits the Old Bodleian library, which was built in the 15th century, making it one of the oldest libraries in Europe. The Old Bod, as it is lovingly nicknamed, contains the Duke Humfrey Library. This room was constructed in 1488 and is filled to the brim with historical texts. It is most well-known for its featured scenes in the Harry Potter movies. I visited this specific room only once but when I did, I truly felt as if I was stepping into the past. That is truly the most magical part of living in Oxford. There will always be more history to learn; it seems as if each piece of pavement on the ground and each brick laid in a building has significance to the history of the university. I hope to come back for a visit in the future to explore the buildings I was unable to visit, and to learn even more.
Nt Thiam (she/her)
Hometown: Aurora, Colorado
As I glanced back at a TripAdvisor’s blog: “Top things to do in Oxford," I have never felt so productive. Today is Sunday August 6th and I am nostalgically checking all the boxes of tutorial essay readings, and analyses of Shakespeare’s plays. We have been to London, Bath, Windsor Castle... We’ve been places! This must be the best five weeks of my life.
To start with, the tutorials have changed the way I think.
Meeting with an Oxford tutor every week has ingrained in me the ability to look at a piece of writing as if I had more than two eyes. Perspectives make you consider beyond what is in front of you.
Our Shakespeare in Oxford course reminded me that knowledge is not power. It is potential power. After much discussion-based learning about the pages, I learned even more about Shakespeare on the stage.
Courtney Oser (she/her)
Hometown: Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
Studying abroad is an amazing experience that can help you grow and learn so much about yourself. Although the idea of leaving home for a prolonged period of time can be extremely daunting, it is well worth it. I remember being terrified to leave home for so long, but I am so glad that I did. I have learned so much about myself and grown as a person in so many ways. I learned to say yes to new experiences, even if you don’t know whether you will enjoy them or not. No matter how busy you get, and trust me, a study abroad program this intense is very busy, always make time to try new experiences and have fun.
Looking back, one of my favorite memories was going for a walk through Christ Church Meadow with one of my roommates. Initially, I wasn’t going to say yes because I was busy working on a paper, but I’m so glad I went. We ended up having great conversations and saw some beautiful sights, and I still was able to finish my paper and do a thorough job. Going forward, I will always keep with me the idea of saying yes. It is so important to try new things and now is the time to do so. Time is expandable, and there will always be more work that you could do, but it is important to remember to make time for things that you enjoy. The homework and busy schedule will always be there, but the experiences along the way are what shape you into who you are.