"I decided to come to Oxford!"


November 2, 2020

Arcadia Abroad caught up with current blogger Lauren Kelly to get her thoughts about studying abroad this semester and some of the interesting things and challenges she's encountered. Currently at Hertford College, University of Oxford, you can read her latest posts on our website and check out what she has to say here about all things Fall 2020!

Arcadia Abroad:  Why did you decide to study abroad this semester?

Lauren Kelly: Pre-pandemic, I decided to study abroad this fall because I wanted a very academic experience that was out of my comfort zone, and Oxford seemed like the best option for me. With the outbreak of the pandemic, I was still allowed to study abroad and though I was very hesitant, I knew that there would be a lot of unknowns in any choice I made, so I stubbornly decided to come to Oxford in-person and hope that I would be safe. So far, so good.

AA: What’s the most interesting thing you’re learning about any part of your experience?

LK: Thus far, I am really enjoying learning about the different ways of life, like windows without screens or different plugs, and different habitual phrases, like “you’re alright” in response to saying hello. Basically, things that might seem unremarkable unless you’re someone who is used to a very specific Wisconsin way of life—then it’s enough of a culture shock.

AA: What’s the most challenging aspect of the experience?

LK: The differences between the U.K and the U.S educational systems keep on coming up. I think it’s interesting how specialized and self-guided education is here, though I am more comfortable with what I know, which is breadth of study and lots of opportunities to ask questions and ask for help.

AA: How was quarantine? How was Arcadia’s support? Did you feel well prepared for release from quarantine? 

LK: Quarantine wasn’t fun, but it was made more manageable with all of the support I got from Arcadia each day with their daily calls (just ask for it and you’ll get it!). Also, it helped having 8 hours of history to learn both weeks. This is something that may be different for anyone who needs to quarantine, but no, I definitely did not feel prepared to leave isolation and go into a busy city that I suddenly had to navigate for myself. Think of the experience as being a delayed arrival—I'm sure that’s how it would have felt getting off the plane and being able to explore the city right away, too; I just had gotten comfortable with being alone and in my comfort zone for two weeks beforehand.

AA: What’s your best advice for students wanting to study abroad?

LK: In a normal year, I would say that you’re really lucky and you should make the most of it, but in this coronavirus world, I think it’s best to be as safe, cautious, and comfortable as you can, even if it is not ideal (it’s not). But you can still have great educational experiences and being flexible truly is worth it!