by Jena Jibreen
This past summer, after my first year at UGA, I was fortunate enough to experience a Maymester study abroad program at the University of Oxford. Though I was only there for a total of four weeks, it was the most incredible experience, and I gained so much from both the Human Rights class that I took and the cultural exploration that I got to dive into along the way.
Upon arrival at the UGA at Oxford House, I could barely contain my excitement; the UGA house is gorgeous, with a library containing a rich variety of books, a large dining room, a comfortable TV room, a fully equipped kitchen, several bedrooms, and a beautiful backyard perfect for anything from reading a book to playing a soccer match. Beyond the UGA house, the atmosphere of the city of Oxford was breathtaking, and that feeling did not go away even after four whole weeks of being there. We explored the different colleges of Oxford with a tour guide who explained the storied history of the architecture, traditions, and notable people of the city and university. The Oxford downtown area is filled with the coolest bookstores, restaurants, markets, and coffee shops.
One of the most special moments for me, which occurred before the commencement of our classes, was our initiation into the Bodleian Library, which is the Library System of the University of Oxford. We got to learn the history of the Bodleian System and then we had the option of choosing the language in which we wanted to recite the Bodleian Oath. I chose French, proceeded to say the Oath, and then was officially initiated with a library card that allowed me entry into any of the Bodleian Library units. The Bodleian Library has the most extensive collection of books I have ever seen, and each individual unit is special for its own reason, in various locations in the city of Oxford. I feel so lucky to have been able to experience the glory of the Bodleian.
When class started, we would go into town and meet our professor in his office at New College, where we would have discussions on the readings that we were assigned, on various topics of Human Rights. It was a very valuable experience because the reading was often quite intensive and more rigorous than other international affairs coursework I had previously had, due to the accelerated nature of that four-week class. I learned how to analyze legal readings in a more efficient way and how to integrate such into a broader discussion on human rights. Overall, the class that I took was very different from any international affairs class I had taken before it, and it was overall very rewarding.
I am so glad that I able to have a rigorous classroom experience while still enjoying all the wonders that Oxford has to offer. The entire Maymester was so very memorable, and Oxford will forever be special to me after this opportunity.