Huntington, Ind.—–The old New York cliché “If I can make it there, I can make it anywhere” is what led Huntington University junior Leslie Newton to spend a semester abroad at England’s Oxford University.
Newton, an English major from Plainfield, Ill., is taking part in Scholarships and Christianity in Oxford. The program runs for a full Oxford term, which is eight weeks of tutorials and another four weeks of “British Landscapes” in which students attend one class on the history of Britain.
Leslie Newton with a statue in Hampton
“The fact that I’m attending Oxford University for even just a term carries a great deal of weight because Oxford is so prestigious,” Newton said. “Just the atmosphere of learning here is very empowering; there’s a sense of invincibility after just nailing a tutorial.”
During the tutorials, Newton reads plays, novels, poetry and various forms of literary works. Afterwards she writes an essay on the piece. “I’m pretty sure I spend close to the suggested 20 hours a week of work per tutorial, whether that is in the library working or reading or writing.” Newton jokes, “I won’t ever complain again about a research paper again, especially when I have three months to write it.”
Leslie Newton (front row, left) with a a group of students in London
Even though there is an intense amount of work, Newton explains how the experience so far has been fulfilling. “The people involved in the program are great, and the other American students in the program are like my soul mates, English majors that are just as motivated as I am. Plus, it’s beautiful here.”
Throughout her experience in Europe, Newton already has been able to travel to many historical places, including Hampton Court Palace, where Henry VIII had most of his wives murdered, Blenheim Palace and Winston Churchill’s grave. She also has been to London a few times. During her midterm break, Newton plans on traveling to the Lake District and Stonehenge. After the term is over Newton also will be stopping in Spain, Ireland and Scotland. Newton explains, “I can’t leave Europe without kissing the Blarney Stone.”
Newton explains how her time at Oxford University has changed her. “I think my views on learning and the American system of education has changed. Because in America, you sit in class and take notes and digest what the professor says and take a test,” Newton said. “At Oxford, students take one test at the end of their three years, which covers everything they’ve learned in three years. The rest of the time, it’s the tutorial learning. This makes everything I learn more personal because I learned it on my own – it’s my reading of criticisms and compiling them all into my opinions.”
Newton explains some of cultural differences in England for the U.S. “They call cookies ‘biscuits.’ Bikes are everywhere! That’s the primary mode of transportation here.” Newton adds, “At first, I did have a hard time understanding what some people were saying. It’s interesting all the different forms of the same language of English. I feel like my American English is so annoying compared to theirs. But, fun fact, American English is more pure – it’s less influenced by Irish and Scottish accents.”