Two Oxford Program Students Finishing Term in England

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Claire Jeantheau '21, Staff Writer

The loss of study abroad from fall 2020 to spring 2021 was disappointing for many Dickinson students, including those accepted into the highly selective, year-long Mansfield College program at the University of Oxford. However, a new decision is allowing some of these students to complete their academic year in-person in England. 

Julia Chandler ’22 and Linh Nguyen ’22, who were previously completing their abroad classes remotely, have taken advantage of an opportunity to spend their final “Trinity term” at Oxford. The university uses the trimester system, and this concluding term will start April 25 and last until June 19. 

Stephanie Gulden, assistant director of study abroad at the Center for Global Study and Education, said that this possibility opened in response to a change in the program’s safety regulations and loosening restrictions in England. 

“England was allowing travelers into the country, including the places from which our students would be coming from,” Gulden explained. 

Gulden added that collaboration with those at Oxford enabled the decision and that the university’s handling of the small Visiting Student Programme was a positive sign. 

“Oxford has continued to strictly follow regulations and guidelines, and parts of the in-person program have been modified to adjust for those rules accordingly,” said Gulden.

Chandler, a medieval & early modern studies and English double major, accepted the chance for an in-person Oxford term enthusiastically. 

“I jumped at the opportunity to travel to Oxford despite the risks because it is what I’ve always been hoping to do,” Chandler told The Dickinsonian. “Being here, regardless of restrictions or quarantine, feels like a reward after being online and across an ocean for the first two-thirds of the year.”

Chandler is currently in England and is undergoing a post-travel quarantine period. She is also waiting to learn whether in-person classes will resume. However, she is eager to see her new surroundings and hopes to fit in a small amount of safe travel before she is required to exit on June 30. 

“All that I’ve seen from the windows of cabs and coaches from the airport thus far has been beautiful, and Mansfield has been very welcoming,” Chandler said. “The UK has just entered a new phase of reopening so there is more to see and do, and I look forward to experiencing all Oxford has to offer.”

Nguyen, a quantitative economics and computer science double major, could not be reached for comment by the time of publication. 

Tra Pham ’22, a quantitative economics and sociology double major in the Oxford program, was also given the option to travel abroad for the trimester. However, she chose to continue the term virtually, citing uncertainty about returning home to Vietnam because of the country’s limits on international arrivals.

“I…figured that since I had enjoyed the last two virtual trimesters, a third one wouldn’t hurt,” Pham said. “It’s a big shame that I had to give up on the authentic Oxford experience, but sometimes things just don’t go our way.”

According to Gulden, the permission for students to travel for the Oxford trimester does not guarantee an automatic return for other programs. 

“The global health outlook related to COVID-19 is fluid and can change rapidly,” said Gulden. “Our decisions for programs to run will be based on a balance of global health news, public health and safety advisories, travel restrictions, visa application dates, and program deadlines, as well as institutional and student feedback.”