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Living Like Jay Gatsby

By Alexa Grill

This summer, I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime. The title of this article is slightly deceiving; while I was not partying it up in West Egg or speeding around in a bright yellow car, I was busy studying at the renowned Oxford University.

For those who do not know (or have not read The Great Gatsby), this university is located in Oxford, England. It is one of the most prestigious universities in the world and is the oldest surviving English speaking university. The specific dormitory that I stayed in, Lady Margaret Hall, was founded in 1878, and this dormitory changed Oxford forever, opening up the university to women for the first time ever.

During my two week stay, I took a developmental psychology class and a criminal psychology class, both taught by the same notable professor. Each class was extremely interesting and encompassed so much more than just learning in a classroom setting. My classmates and I watched videos, created presentations, and even took a field trip to a museum in the town of Oxford. One of the most fascinating parts of each class was the discussions and collaborations I was able to engage in with my fellow classmates, since they were truly from all around the globe. I loved getting to hear the perspectives, opinions, and personal accounts from areas outside of the United States bubble with classmates from places such as Venezuela, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Turkey, Spain, and Russia.

My incredible experience at Oxford was not just because of the classes I took. I got the opportunity to really expand my horizons by being able to see all that Oxford and the surrounding. area had to offer.  Exploration of the town was encouraged, and I got to live life like a true Oxford student would. In between classes and at night, my friends and I eagerly strolled into town with the intentions of finding new sights to see and delicious places to eat. Whether we were checking out the spots in Oxford where Harry Potter was filmed or indulging in a delicious Ben’s Cookies, I can assure you that we accomplished our goal! The highlights of my trip were definitely going to “high tea” not once, but twice, and trying out parkour training. Both of these were extremely different and very  memorable experiences, as “high tea” made me feel like a true Brit and parkour made me feel like a ninja.

The final component of my trip consisted of venturing out into the city of London. I loved everything about London and marveled at the beauty of Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. There were great shopping options as well, which was surely another plus for me. My only disappointment about the city was learning that the rumor about the frequent rain is true. Other than that, the buildings were beautiful, and London definitely struck me as a cleaner, more slow-paced version of New York City. I can’t wait to return and spend more time in this historic city.

All in all, my two week adventure at Oxford University was definitely one for the books and an experience for which I will always be grateful. Speaking to people from all around the world definitely made me think about life from a different perspective, one that only a first-hand experience like this could offer. I am so glad I was able to learn about the cultures of not only my fellow students, but also the English culture. In addition, I fortunately was able to get a glimpse of the college life which will prepare me for the near future. Just like Jay Gatsby claimed he was an “Oxford Man,” I can officially say that I am now an “Oxford Woman.”

Photo courtesy of Alexa Grill