Somewhere along the way I seemed to have forgotten the “study” part of “study abroad.” But not to worry, today academics came back with full force like a slap to the face. Or in other words, I had my first tutorial today. Okay, maybe I’m being overly dramatic. Yes, it was completely academic and yes, it was actually kind of fun. So, what is a tutorial? A tutorial is a major part of the Oxford experience. In addition to seminars, which are basically like American lectures, Oxford has tutorials, or one-on-one sessions with a tutor. Let me break it down:
I first walked into my tutorial like a complete deer in the headlights. My tutor, a dashing young British man (with a PhD) wearing a tweed jacket and horn rimmed glasses looking every bit a stereotype, introduced himself. I was then prompted to read my essay out loud. He then proceeded to completely tear it apart. If you’re thinking that it sounds terrifying, you’d be right. My essay happened to be a literary analysis about the Bible, so for the next hour we discussed the basis of religion, the fragility of human storytelling, and the nature of truth. The structure of a tutorial is so much more efficient than any other kind of classroom experience I’ve ever had. It allows for more critical thinking, it isn’t as confined in terms of subject, and it’s much more personal. It was kind of like a dream. A weird academic dream.
Bottom line: Tutorials are pretty intense, but also kind of awesome.
And if you’re thinking that after that experience, I was done with academics for the day, you’d be incorrect. That’s just not the Oxford way. After my tutorial ended, I went to the library to read for the next 6 hours. But hey, at least I snapped this contraband photo of the interior of the Radcliffe Camera. If books are your thing, the Bodleian library is heaven.