Devyn Greenberg '17 participated in the Dartmouth-Oxford Exchange Program at Keble College during 2016 Winter Term. Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Communications, Niki Bakhru '17, interviewed her once she was back on campus about her term abroad.
NB: How would you describe your overall experience at Oxford? What did you enjoy the most?
DG: I would say that there are two aspects of the program that made it such a wonderful experience. The first were the other Dartmouth students I went with: the three of them are like my family at this point. We spent so much time together and grew so close. The second aspect that I loved was the tutorial system. It’s completely unlike anything you’d find in the US. The way it works is you write an essay every week and submit it to your tutor before class. Then, you work point-by-point with them, either two-on-one or one-on-one for an hour, defending your assumptions and all the components of your argument. That was valuable for me in terms of becoming a stronger verbal communicator and learning how to explain my thought process. I think it has really impacted my work ethic and approach to class discussions at Dartmouth.
NB: Aside from the tutorial system you described, how else did the classes stand out to you in comparison to classes at Dartmouth?
DG: The relationships with professors really stood out to me because you had so many individual interactions with them that led us to get to know them very well. Another thing I loved was how independent the coursework was. They would give us the huge reading list and basically say: “go read about this topic, develop an opinion on this central guiding question, and form your own argument.” You’d end up going to this beautiful library and hunkering down with readings until you had developed and structured your own viewpoint. You were never told how to think about something and were given a lot of freedom to get a grasp on a topic for yourself. I think it gave me a new sense of initiative in how I generally approach learning.
NB: How often did you interact with other Dartmouth students? Did you get a chance to meet many Oxford students as well?
DG: The other Dartmouth students and I must have had about 160 meals together. We grew really close and spent a lot of time with one another. I met a lot of Oxford students by joining clubs while I was there – something I’d recommend to any exchange student because they’re low-commitment and really great. The Dartmouth program, unlike most other Oxford exchange programs, actually has students living on campus. We hung out with our floor mates, and lived like any other Oxford student.
NB: If you were to look back on your whole trip, is there one memory or experience that has stayed with you?
DG: I have three. First, we had daily formal dinners in the hall where we would wear our robes, rise as ‘High Table’ entered, and hear Latin before being served dinner. One of my favorites was Burn’s Night – a Scottish holiday celebrated in the UK. There was an enormous dinner and an amazing performance, unlike anything I have seen in the US. Second were the academic experiences. In one class, we stayed in our professor’s office after a discussion of the relationship between growth and development, talking through the debate far after class time because there was so much to discuss. Third, there was a day toward the end of the term when we tried to see every one of the 29 colleges at Oxford. We went to Magdalen College, which is the most beautiful place you could imagine. It is like a dreamland with a deer meadow, gardens and a pond. We ended up spending a full afternoon there instead of seeing all of the other colleges. That same night, we also attended a chapel service at New College that was also otherworldly.
-Submitted by Niki Bakhru '17, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Communications and Student Outreach