A Brother Abroad

My name is Achraf Tai and I am a junior from Casablanca, Morocco majoring in both Computer Science and Film Studies at DePauw University. This past fall semester, I had the chance to attend the prestigious University of Oxford in England. The least I could say about my experience was that it was magical. First of all, the University of Oxford is composed of more than 40 different colleges that were each founded individually over the centuries. I was affiliated with Jesus College, founded in 1571 by Queen Elizabeth I herself, one of the most renowned colleges known for consistently ranking among the top 3 colleges of the university. 

Studying abroad at Oxford was not a last minute nor a random decision. Knowing about all the study abroad opportunities that DePauw offered when I was still a freshman, I had one goal in mind. I started by taking a class my sophomore year that specifically adopted Oxford’s unique educational style, the tutorial system, to get an idea of what my experience could be like. Once I made it there, I took three different courses, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and a Shakespeare seminar, all being tutorials. A tutorial is basically a one-on-one class that the student attends with a specific professor. This education system is definitely more challenging, but is ultimately very rewarding as the student gets a more personalized learning experience to help focus on their own struggles. 

Oxford is very academic, but thanks to their big and creative student body, they managed to come up with activities that match all different tastes and interests. The biggest student organization is called “The Union” which is a committee that is responsible for organizing big events that regroup all students from all different colleges. The events consist mainly of talks and debates for which they host the biggest and most influential personalities from around the world. Otherwise, every single college has its own committee responsible for organizing and managing activities for that very specific college. Personally, I was on the Jesus College football team (I said soccer on my first training session and they all looked at me in disgust). This was probably one of the main highlights of my experience there as it allowed me to meet a lot of different people inside and outside of Jesus College.

Overall, I am well aware that I was lucky enough to get the chance of a lifetime of studying at the University of Oxford. Just walking down all those streets full of history, the cold gloomy weather, the British accent, the old and new libraries, everything was perfect for an unforgettable journey. You just know you had a good time when the goodbyes are emotional even as an exchange student.