Today’s preparations have been mostly centered around pre-reading select historical works for my tutorials at Oxford. As I understand it, I will have about 3-4 weeks of learning that is non tutorial based, and then the second term will be completely centered around the two tutorials that I have chosen. My primary tutorial is “History of the British Isles I: c.370-1087” and my secondary tutorial is “History of the British Isles VII: Since 1900”. Several weeks ago my professors for each tutorial sent me some recommended reading for the summer. Since the reading was presented as optional, I did not have much motivation to seek out academic work during the break.
As the summer progressed, I did figure that I should do some reading in order to get a better idea of what I was going to study in each area. One of my professors requested that I do the reading in order to better know which area of history I wanted to focus on. You, dear reader, may already know this, but the Oxford style of education is quite different than American education. Being tutorials, each course is a one-on-one instruction with an Oxford professor. As I understand, I will meet with my professor once a week to discuss my previous work and plan out the coming week. Then during that next week, I will spend hours in the library researching and writing, in order to present a 8-10 page paper at every meeting. (The secondary tutorial only requires a paper every two weeks).
Because of the sheer amount of work to be done, I have been warned that this experience is supposed to be incredibly taxing. The program itself has advised to not plan on trips or excursions until I get a feel for the work, as it may be too much to have the time for considerable free time. For me, the unknown of how hard it will be has me a bit nervous. Will I be spending all of my time in the library? How much will I have to learn in general areas like writing? Will I actually have free time? At this point, because I have no frame of reference for how the course work will impact me (not to mention the fact that every instructor is different) I am anxiously awaiting the start of the term so I will have a better understanding of what is ahead.
The pre-reading itself did nothing to reduce (or add to) my concerns for the course work. I was only able to find one of the books locally. I had no desire to buy a book that I couldn’t take with me (I am really trying to pack light), so I attempted to locate the books at the library. Tulsa’s local library held none of the required books, and I was only able to find one of the four at a local university’s library. After reading for a couple hours about Britain in the 1900’s, I now have a better idea of what I want to study, but no greater knowledge of what to expect.
Soli De0 Gloria