Thus far, this trip has been an amazing experience. However, there are some things that some of us non-ABU students are struggling with. I'll be speaking for myself only on these things, I don't exactly know to what extent other feel the same way, although I know there is similar feelings.
One of the main things that I have had a hard time adjusting to is the fact that we're with a Baptist University programme. I have absolutely nothing against Baptists, by the way. It just is a fact, however, that their universities are run a little bit differently, I think, than Redeemer, at least. At ABU, the administration is there to be your stand-in parent-- whereas, I think, Redeemer gives the students much more independance. After going out on my own (well, with my dear Kenny) for four months in BC, learning how to do things on my own, figure out cities on my own and whatnot, the powers-that-be here in Charlbury seem to be almost holding our hands for every thing that we do. Given the fact that there's a first year student here with us, maybe that's not such a bad idea for some of it, but, having only one year of university left after this experience, I personally was hoping to have to learn some things on my own, somewhat like the Redeemer in France students do.
Every monday, we get our tickets to and from Oxford for the week handed to us in a package, every monday we are told not to lose these tickets, they cost money, we need them to get to our lectures, we won't know what to do if we don't have a ticket, etc etc etc. I'm quite sure that if people lose these tickets once, they will not make that mistake again, and if they do lose their tickets they'll learn how to buy new tickets.
We recieve weekly lectures about how much time we should be spending in the library, about how we should be staying at the Bodlian until 9 or 10 pm and not coming in on the earlier trains, about how we should do research, how we should write papers, etc etc etc. For my essay for Drama, I have to submit an outline for the paper, a rough draft, and a final copy. By the third year in university, I have had to write a *few* papers, so it's a little bit tedious to have to do these things which I haven't had to do since grade 12. I'm sure that it will make for a better mark, but unfortunately I'm clinging to my want for independance.
The level of academia (sp?) is not quite what I was expecting. This part, I'm not complaining about, but we're definitely not studying at the Oxford level, or anywhere near. The requirements all line up with the ABU requirements for their courses, which seem to be a little lower than RUC- for their ISU, they only have to write one ten page paper, whereas we have to write three. I think that I would have been over my head in the actual Oxford course, so I don't mind this so much. However, we pretty much are just attending the England branch of ABU.
This is a fairly new programme, it's been in existance for ten years but didn't really get off the ground until two years ago, so we're the third group that's in this full swing. So, given that, it's understandable that there are things that need working out... communication between ABU admin and ABU Oxford students needs to improve before the actual departure... more information on financial costs needs to be given and cleared up... course expectations and syllabi and requirements need to be organized and presented ahead of time...
Anyhow, it's been my prayer since before I came that God would use this time in England to teach me, and I'm learning... or at least I'm trying. It seems to me that it's fairly difficult to learn something without having something to struggle with first. Or, put another way, the lesson seems to be a lot more effective if one has to work at the solution. I suppose that I'll have to swallow my want of independance and previous expectations fairly quickly, and pay attention to what God's telling me.
Anyhow, as Julie said tonight, one of the best things about this experience thus far has been getting to know the other students in this programme. It's been amazing, we're a very blessed group. I, myself, have been getting to know Cara Duffy, an ABU student, and we've had some great conversations and good times together already. (she's even trying to convince me to go running with her in the mornings! hmm...)