Back to SummaryMaya Lewis - Student Profile
I applied to the Stanford program at Oxford for several reasons: I’ve always wanted to study in Europe, I wanted to dive deep into my academic interests, and I wanted the chance to make new friends in a close setting. My experience there delivered on all of these goals and taught me so much more. As a humanities major, I have always been interested in other cultures and perspectives on life that differ from mine. Having traveled to China and India, I thought I’d already gotten used to culture shocks. Oxford and the UK proved to be another culture shock that taught me a lot about who I am, what I am capable of doing, and how to better appreciate people who are different than me.
Academically, I found Oxford the most rewarding experience I’ve had yet. My tutorial enabled me to explore topics I am personally interested in and dig deep into getting answers to questions I’d been curious about from before. For once, I finally had time to sit and read books I found interesting, instead of simply being assigned reading materials. Oxford allows students to focus and study what they are interested in. And besides, where else can you sit in a centuries-old library and feel like you’re really living in history while you read away, in my case, on prostitution in China.
Besides my academic personal development, Oxford also provided the opportunity for me to live in close confines with other people who shared the same intellectual vigor as me to pursue a topic they are keenly interested in. Being around like-minded people has always inspired me, especially because they become sources of knowledge themselves. I really enjoyed my time at the Stanford House and the new friends I made in a smaller version of “The Farm Away from the Farm”.
Culturally, I went to the UK with an open mind not knowing exactly what to expect. I’d never been to the UK before and did not know much about its culture or its people. Watching Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon, attending formal hall dinners and listening to Evensong really impressed me with the pride British people feel in their long history and culture. Also, as students, we became immersed in the culture unique to Oxford University itself. We watched the crew races, rugby games, and participated in “BOPs”, sharing drinks with Oxford students in the college pubs, making new friends. And finally, when I got tired of studying in libraries, I could go write in cute cafes while drinking tea and snacking on scones.
My time at Oxford taught me a lot culturally and academically. Even though the thought of writing 2500 word essays and reading several books on a weekly basis seemed daunting, I soon came to appreciate the tutorial system because of the opportunity it provided to learn about topics I cared about. And throughout it all, I was surrounded by a strong support group of other Stanford students doing the same thing. Finding out what they were learning and studying was also a whole learning experience in and of itself. Being in the UK and traveling to other countries in Europe while there also gave me the opportunity to further widen my eyes to the various cultures and lifestyles of other people in the world--an invaluable experience that you can only get when you really step outside of the world you are comfortable in and keep an open mind about the possibilities and people outside of it.