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March 04, 2009

Seventh Week

Seventh week is upon us and it's hard to believe that the term is almost over. We'll officially be done by the end of next week. Looking back, there are a great number of things that I appreciate about being here at (and in) Oxford. It's been a great experience culturally and academically.

There's something about living in a foreign country that I've found both unsettling and yet makes me proud to be an American. Many of the British students that I've talked to have a better grasp on current American politics than I do (which is kind of embarrassing, but also reaffirmed my suspicions that America is the center of the universe). On Sundays I attend St. Ebbes church, and it has been encouraging (as well as refreshing) to gather every Sunday with non-Americans to worship. The service I attend is mostly made up of students, making it a fairly diverse congregation. So far (between attending services and a bible study) I've met British students, a guy from the Netherlands, several students from China, and a Frenchman. It's a much more globally minded environment that I'm not accustomed to as an American. A good example of this is a prayer that was prayed during one Sunday morning service. The man that was praying prayed for Obama before he prayed for his own Prime Minister. I asked myself, "How many times have I prayed for the leaders of other countries? How often do I even pray for my own president?" I also thought, "What? Are we in so much trouble that Obama takes precedence over Gordon Brown?" Like I said: a bit unsettling.

On the academic side, I've found this term very challenging, especially since I'm studying philosophy (I have no background in philosophy; I'm an English/Music man). Despite the difficulties (perhaps because of the difficulties) I feel like my reasoning and comprehension abilities have improved exponentially. My tutors have been patient, understanding, and genuinely concerned with my progress. I have yet to receive an official grade on my work, so I'm not sure how I'm doing. Marks come only at the end of the term--perturbing most. I've found that it has helped me focus on actually learning and understanding the material. I'm not trying to meet some grade standard: I'm driven by trying to achieve genuine progress. In fact, I think I've learned most from my worst essays. I guess I'll soon find out how progress looks as a GPA.

Daniel Maycock
Fellow, Hilary Term '09

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