by Lydia McCoy

When I was a sophomore, I decided on a whim to apply for the UGA at Oxford study abroad program. To my delight, I was accepted into the Oxford program…as a Franklin College student. SPIA did not have a summer program at Oxford, so I applied as a Franklin student, where my Russian major lived, knowing that there would be something interesting for me to take regardless of what college I go with. Again, to my delight, two great international affairs classes were offered that summer: international conflict and English common law.

While at Oxford, I had the most amazing experiences. The city was beautiful and full of history. It was like being on a movie set; in fact, we walked through a few movie sets that summer. I had the opportunity to travel every weekend, so I took advantage of it, going to Paris, Ibiza, and Edinburgh. There was always something happening on campus, though, so it was hard to leave; my favorite day of the week was our Monday night lecture, followed by high table dinners that were attended by Oxford faculty members.

The classes, however, were difficult. There is no other word for it. The classes were hard, but they were also rewarding. Each class I took was taught in a one on one or small group setting in the professors’ offices. We spent an hour discussing whatever the topic was; sometimes it was Francis Fukuyama’s assertion that history has ended, and other times it was discussing important cases in English common law that shook things up. Regardless of the topic, I knew I would have to prepare like never before. It wasn’t like being in a normal UGA class, where if you had not done the reading you might get away unscathed thanks to your classmates. At Oxford, you had no one to hide behind. Therefore, I would spend hours a day at the Bodleian Library, affectionately known as “the Bod,” preparing for class. If you’ve ever seen Harry Potter, you’ve seen this library. It is one of the largest libraries in Europe with over 12 million books, which is every book- or history-lover’s dream.

Not only did Oxford have amazing classes and sites to see, but the UGA at Oxford program gave me the chance to think about my life beyond what I knew; by this, I mean that the program opened my eyes to so many professions and world views that I had previously not paid much attention to. This led to me deciding that a career in humanitarian or international law is not completely out of reach for me, and I want to spend my life travelling the world and helping other people. Thanks to my experiences at Oxford University and within SPIA at UGA, I feel confident in my abilities. The world is uncertain right now; but I know that with my experiences, I am entering the workforce to change the world for the better.