Pictured, left: Leland Dormitory, Amherst College-- home, before I left.
Before travelling to the UK, I've never considered study abroad a challenge--after all, as an Indian citizen, I've been doing exactly that for the past two and a half years--studying abroad at Amherst College. And yet there is something quintessentially different about the "junior year/semester abroad" dynamic--there's a sense of exploration, exhiliration, travel-fever: there's a sense of breaking from a routine. "Study abroad" entails a lot more than the two words that make it up--it's not just about studying at a desk in a place four thousand miles away from my desk back at Amherst: it's about exploring, shaking up routines, taking risks and challenges and living as though you've got only 6 months left to do so--because you do, you do only have this unique 6 month experience that will be very hard to replicate at any other stage of your life.
Given what a special experience this is, it's absolutely amazing how much Amherst tries to make the opportunity accessible to anyone.While I've heard others around me stress about credits, graduation, financial aid, costs-- I've come to become extremely grateful that my only concern with this program was being able to get into it. I've taken great pride in introducing Amherst's concept of access to fellow students here-- given that Amherst's financial aid policy regarding study abroad is that you would roughly pay the same amount if you were staying at Amherst for the semester, making the choice to study abroad or not one that can be made on purely non-financial grounds: an admirable and equitible policy amongst students. Credits work well for me as well--Amherst has a few strict poolicies regarding credit transfers, as does my major, but luckily, as a tried and tested program, IFSA-Butler at Oxford offers me no such pains.
Since I took the meticulous pain of uploading pictures, I suppose I must talk dorms--the last stepping stone out of Amherst and the first into life at a new Uni. Pictured above and left is Leland dormitory--hands down one of the coolest dorms I've lived in my entire Amherst life, and one I immensely miss right now, despite the comfortable two room double at Oxford. Leland's an example of the kooky variations in living styles Amherst offers-- a one of a kind dorm, it is apartment style, with a huge kitchen, bathroom, cupboard-under-the-stairs, Harry Potter style, and a living room. Living there right before studying abroad was a good transition into indepedence-- one feels more grown up living outside the traditional dorm setup. On next week's blog, I'll talk more about living situations, and life in general in a college campus, be it at Amherst or Oxford. Until then, see you and catch you later!