My name is Taryn Dusek. I just finished my first year as an evening student at SMU Dedman School of Law Law, and I am currently studying at University College in Oxford, England with the summer abroad program. I am taking Income Taxation with Professor Lischer, as well as a tutorial on the E.U. Constitution. I have never studied abroad before. In fact, the most time I’ve ever spent abroad was a few weeks on a school trip to Europe when I was 15, so I am very excited to experience it as an adult.
Our first week in Oxford was certainly packed with activities. I arrived in Oxford last Tuesday morning at about 9 a.m. and checked into my room at University College. I then lugged my much too large suitcase up a few flights of stairs to my room and after resting for a few hours met up with the rest of the group to get a quick tour of central Oxford from Professor Winship. The evening culminated in a group dinner and a World Cup game, followed by a VERY early bedtime.
Wednesday morning I was up bright and early (the sun rises around 5 a.m. here) to grab breakfast in the college and head to my first class. After a few hours of class and then lunch in the college, Professor Winship took us to the Bodleian Library to obtain our library cards. At the Bodleian, it is a tradition and requirement that everyone who obtains a Bodleian Library card recite a declaration which we recited individually in an admission ceremony in the Old Bodleian Library. The Bodleian Library is absolutely breathtaking, and we were taught a great deal about the history of the Bodleian during the admission ceremony. Following the admission ceremony, we returned to University College for tea in the Fellows’ Garden and met our tutors. In addition to taking one class from an SMU professor while in Oxford, we are split into small group tutorials taught by members of the Oxford faculty. We met briefly as a tutorial group to receive the syllabus and expectations from our tutor, and then went our separate ways for dinner.
Thursday, we toured the Bodleian Law Library, which is further away from the Old Bodleian Library and houses most of the materials we will be accessing for our classes while we are here. Following the tour, we walked as a large group to a restaurant called Freud’s in a part of Oxford that most of us had not yet explored for a welcoming dinner. I think we all enjoyed experiencing a new part of town and being together as a large group. As for the first weekend, on Friday after class I tried to get a good bit of my reading and assignments finished. Then a group of my friends and I left for London by bus early Saturday morning for one night. The bus trip was very easy – and we enjoyed getting to explore a new place.
On Sunday, Professor Winship took anyone who wanted to walk with him about 40 minutes down the Thames to Iffley to explore the area and visit an old Norman church, St. Mary’s. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and the church was truly an incredible sight. It was built in 1170 and remains more or less as it was when it was originally built. The short journey on Sunday is a perfect example of my favorite part of this experience so far. It is incredible to learn in such an extraordinary setting and to live and study in such a historical college, but the best part for me about the Oxford program is the type of discussion and interaction I am able to have with my peers and professors. I don’t just attend class and then go home and study on my own. My classes are very small and intimate, and my educational experience lasts all day. It is an entirely different learning experience than I had in my regular courses during the fall and spring semesters, and the relationships that I am beginning to develop with my peers and professors are unique to the abroad experience.
This week, we have a few fun optional events planned such as ice skating and a ghost tour, and one required/mandatory/etc. event that I am looking forward to – High Table. Then this weekend my friends and I will be traveling to Scotland. More on this week’s happenings next week! Now – back to studying.