My name is Claire, and I was a sophomore education major at Salve Regina studying abroad in Oxford, England. I had been saving my money since I was ten years old to study abroad, and I chose St. Clare’s Oxford because I could get some valuable teaching experience while I was across the pond. This was to be my grand adventure, and I wanted to soak up every opportunity available to me.
Traveling alone for the first time was frightening, but the trip to Oxford from the Heathrow airport was easy. Once I got through customs and got my bags, I just made my way to the bus terminal in the airport, and got on a bus headed to Gloucester Green, the bus station in downtown Oxford. While the trip itself was long and tiring, my excitement could not be contained. I was so eager to meet my new classmates and see the city.
When I arrived at the school, I was given a tour of my building, and met many of my fellow students. To my surprise, I was one of only eight American students, four of whom also attended Salve Regina. The rest were students from all over the world, from nearly every continent. Everyone spoke different languages, and many of them had come to learn to speak fluent English. My roommate was a German girl, who was taking a gap year to study English so she could go to an English-speaking college.
St. Clare’s not only brings people from many cultures together to celebrate their diversity, but also immerses them in the rich history and culture of the city of Oxford. Every weekend we had the option to tour a different part of England with a school trip, and throughout the week there were events and activities hosted by the school that took place all over Oxford and the surrounding towns.
The Salve students also were given Fridays with no classes, so we had plenty of long weekends to explore Europe. While the global pandemic did limit me from traveling too much, I did get to see Venice, Paris, and Budapest in addition to exploring England with St. Clare’s. As someone who had never really left east coast America, it was a mind-blowing experience to explore places beyond my wildest imaginings, and meet people of all different backgrounds who spoke many different languages.
Though my time at St. Clare’s was cut short by the pandemic, I truly had the time of my life. It was everything I dreamed it would be. I learned so much from my experience, both in and out of the classroom. But, best of all, I made lasting friendships with people all over the world, and it has changed my life.