Globe Trotters: Taking Advantage of Oxford’s Opportunities

CUA students Makenzie Winter, Marie Erickson, and Annaliese Neaman enjoy the historic scenery outside of Blenheim Palace in England. Courtesy of Marie Erickson

By Marie Erickson ’20, Annaliese Neaman ’19, and Makenzie Winter ’19

Erickson – Formal Dinners 

Formal dinners are the best reward after spending the day at tutorial and the library. Each college holds formal dinners in its hall on specified nights throughout the term. I usually meet up with friends from my hall before we head over. I also try to invite students I meet from other colleges, and they’ll usually do the same. Each college’s formal has unique traditions and food. At my college—and most others—all of the students arrive dressed in robes, just like in Harry Potter. Students sit at long tables that stretch the length of the hall, and the Oxford tutors sit at an elevated table at the front. A prayer is said just before servers begin to bring out the first of three courses. The food never disappoints, and I rarely leave without chatting with at least one new face across the table.

Neaman – College Events 

My favorite part about my Oxford experience so far has been getting involved in the clubs and societies, and attending the events that my college has to offer. I have had the opportunity to engage in exciting discus- sions about feminism, listen to lectures on Shakespeare given by world- class scholars, and hear truly excellent music. By taking advantage of these events, I’ve been exposed to diverse points of view and very interesting people. Getting to know the English students has been super helpful. I’m learning where the best pubs are, the best study spots, and other helpful advice. But mostly, I’m enjoying new friendships. There is always an event taking place at college so I have yet to be bored!

Winter – Catholic Life 

Though spending a semester away from Catholic University, I was able to find a strong Catholic community in Oxford. During the week, I not only prepare for my tutorials, but I am able to go to church at St. Aloysius Gonzaga and Blackfriars, where the authors of the works I am reading, such as Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, attended Mass as well. As a Catholic and an English major, I have realized the opportunity to pray and study where some of my favorite authors have lived and taught is an extraordinary blessing. By chance of reading the bulletin after Sunday Mass, I discovered a notice about a Catholic group of Oxford students known as the Oxford University Catholic Chaplaincy, which is similar to Catholic University’s Campus Ministry, offering opportunities to participate in the sacraments, service projects, societies, and pilgrimages. I have become a part of the Newman Society (named after Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman), which hosts Catholic speakers and social events. I hope to be able to participate in their upcoming service projects and pilgrimages. Through the Catholic community in Oxford, I felt welcomed and at home. I did not have any knowledge of what the Catholic community would be like at Oxford before I departed on my study abroad journey. If I had known I would find a piece of Catholic University in Oxford, I think the journey would have been less difficult for me. To all future Oxford study abroad students, know that you will always find a home amongst the Catholic community in Oxford, but you will have to seek out that community and make an effort to incorporate it into your life as a study abroad student. To all future study abroad students, go out and travel the world with the security of knowing that you will not be without faith or community.

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