I am officially in my last week of Michelmas term! I thought this might be a good opportunity to outline what academics are like at Oxford compared to Georgetown.
At Oxford, we have three eight week terms called “Michelmas,” “Hilary,” and “Trinity.” The academic year runs from early October to mid-June, which is very different from the semester system in the states.
Because the term is so short (8 weeks of instruction), it is jam-packed with material, events, etc. It truly is a sprint and goes by extremely fast, making me grateful for having a full year here. For studying abroad, this has made a different experience for me in regards to travelling on the weekends. In other programs, since they are only a semester, but also a bit longer, a lot of my friends travel every weekend to a different city. At Oxford, since the term is only seven weekends, missing one or two is even a lot. Therefore, I have stayed except for a Thanksgiving trip and a trip to Edinburgh and tried to take in the short 8 weeks of Oxford. The blessing is that in between each term is six weeks off during which UK students are required to move out of their rooms (yes all their belongings!) and go home. I get to stay in my room all year, and these six weeks off provide me with an opportunity to travel deep and not be concerned about schoolwork. After Michelmas next Friday, I will be visiting Georgetown friends abroad in Copenhgaen, Budapest, Prague, and Strasbourg before heading home for Christmas.
Going back to the class set-up, Oxford has 32 colleges within the university itself. These colleges have their own fellows and teaching staff per subject, and serve as the tutors for undergraduate “tutorials.” That is what differentiates Oxford: the tutorial system. A tutorial for me consists of turning in an essay on a topic for that week after completing reading and attending optional lectures that the university puts on. Then, my tutor and I discuss my paper and the topic one-on-one for about a hour. This system relies on self-discipline, time management, and love of learning. Although I have a lot of work every week, it is not stressful the way Georgetown is with class time, meetings, extracurricular, and homework assignments every night. Overall, I’ve gotten to go very in-depth on my topics this term of Politics in the Middle East and World War One and Two History, which is a cool change for a year, and can write an essay now in less time than I ever fathomed.