I was studying Psychology and Cognitive Science at Northwestern University, and I spent the academic year as a visiting student reading Experimental Psychology at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford. Studying abroad at St Anne’s was a challenging and rewarding experience that exposed me to a new academic approach and expanded my research experience. During my time at St Anne’s, I was able to explore new student groups and meet people from all over the world, some of whom I now consider my best friends.
The tutorial system challenges students to compose one to two essays each week on a topic in their field. For Experimental Psychology, essay topics generally centered on a current debate in the field and asked us to think critically about existing research to form our own arguments and identify gaps in the research. At Oxford, lectures and reading lists often cover different topics than your tutorials that week. In this way, you are challenged to read and synthesize material independently as well as sometimes completing your own literature review. The tutorial system helped me to think about psychology in a different way, improve my writing, and learn how to analyze data critically.
Beyond academics, there are plenty of extracurricular and social opportunities for visiting students at St Anne’s. I worked as a Research Assistant in the Experimental Psychology Department and became involved in a couple of mental health related student groups after attending the Fresher’s Fair.
Formal dinners about every two weeks, bops, and a student government that plans many impromptu, fun events make St Anne’s a vibrant community and an exciting place to visit for the year. In addition, St Anne’s tries as much as possible to support visiting students. Activities such as visiting student lunches and teas each term helped the visiting students to develop a community and made me feel welcome. Exploring Oxford and traveling with visiting students, I developed some of my strongest friendships. My time at St Anne’s challenged me to learn and think in new ways and has given me friends I will have long past my time there.