Oxford, England

The University of Oxford is recognized as one of the most prestigious and well-known universities in the world. Having produced world famous authors, politicians and more, Oxford has also been hosting Eastern students for several years.

Jessa Ribar, a junior studying philosophy and literature, had the opportunity to experience the rich culture of England this fall in Oxford’s Best Semester’s Scholar Program. She was accompanied by four other students from Eastern. Having spent four months in Oxford’s well respected Wycliffe Hall with around forty other American students, Ribar was exposed to a unique academic style in the tutorial system.

In addition to an introductory course in British history, Ribar studied aesthetics with Dr. Matt Kirkpatrick and his brother, Jonathan Kirkpatrick, as well as Shakespeare with Jonathan Thorpe. While one-on-one tutorials with Oxford scholars can certainly cause a bit of anxiety, Ribar claims that the experience was beneficial overall.

“They were all phenomenal” she said. “(They were) so supportive and I spent a good deal of time getting to know them aside from studying with them.”

Assisting Ribar in her academic future and current studies, these tutors also introduced a whole new method of study that helped her think critically about the given subjects and develop discipline in time management. Rather than assigning “busy work,” Ribar’s tutors based classes on weekly papers and classroom discussions, which proved to be much different from the American lecture style.

But the Oxford experience is much more than weekly tutorials. Interspersed throughout the semester were a series of field trips to England’s most historic sites such as Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral, the city of Bath and Hampton Court Palace.

Even individual trips were encouraged and Ribar took the opportunity to visit Paris on a long weekend with a group of other students.

The personalized schedule also allowed time to explore and experience the city of Oxford. Through tours of other colleges and her volunteering experience at the Museum of Oxford, Ribar was still able to experience the city in the midst of her busy schedule.

“Oxford is such an eccentric community of scholars and it was fun knowing in whose footsteps I was walking,” Ribar said. “I loved the semester overall.”

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