If I could spend a year studying anywhere in the world, where would I go? What would I study? Let’s set some ground rules here: money is no object; neither are work and familial responsibility; and any present studies can be interrupted without jeopardizing my career. That being the case, I am going to study English Literature and Sociology at Oxford. I will begin in the Spring semester; taking a full course load- twenty to twenty-four credits worth of undergraduate courses focusing on the history of literature and the foundational concepts of sociology.
Then in the summer I will take advantage of the renowned Oxford summer courses, varying my routine by diving into a creative fiction writing taught by a professor who reveres the classics of literature throughout time and all over the world. This will complement my studies in literature while providing me with a different perspective, reading classics with an eye to how they are written rather than dissecting them as examples of literature. In this semester I will take a much lighter course load so as to allow time to experience the culture of the city, for which my heavy course load in the spring will leave me almost no time.
For the final semester, in the autumn, I will again take a full course load, double majoring in sociology and literature. In sociology I will be delving into anthropology and history, seeing how modern ideas have evolved from the experiences in the past, and how our conception of the past shapes our thinking about the men and women who lived and thought in their own time, to them as robust and full as our time is to us. In literature I will focus on more modern times, hoping to find a professor who sees great literature as a continuum extending from earliest times to now, with only the outer trapping having really changed, while the vitality that makes great writing remains the same no matter when or where the writer and the audience exist.
Finally, in every semester and in every class, I will seek out students (or professors) whose personality and worldview makes them somehow outstanding. I will cultivate friendships with these individuals, so that on my return to the U.S. and my studies at a community college here, I will have contacts with a wide variety of friends from all around the world, to allow me continue to some extent the liberal education which I will have received.
Ahh yes. Such are my dreams of the ideal semester abroad….