Welcome to the Middlebury-CMRS Oxford Humanities Programme!
As you prepare for a semester or a year of study in Oxford, we would ask you to review the information in this Handbook. You will find in it many of the answers to basic questions that you may have about the M-CMRS program, about the facility in which we operate (St. Michael’s Hall), and about living in England.
Students from North American colleges and universities often assume that life in the U.K. will be very similar to what they have experienced in the U.S. or Canada. While this is not a totally incorrect assumption, it is misleading in many ways. Adapting to life as a student in Oxford can be challenging, because the culture of the U.K. is not the same in all respects as that of North America. At times, it may be difficult and frustrating. It will demand a degree of good judgment and maturity as well as a dose of good humor.
To begin with, you will discover a different social environment. On arrival, you will become a member of a community of students living in St. Michael’s Hall, all of whom usually study at North American colleges and universities. Through shared meals, field trips and social events within the building, you will come to know some of them well. Over time, you will also be given various opportunities to interact with students at Oxford University. This will happen through meals and events at Keble College, but also through the Bodleian Library and through clubs, societies and sport teams that may include students from other Oxford Colleges. It will be up to you to take advantage of those opportunities in order to become better integrated into the Oxford environment. Throughout your stay in Oxford, if a problem arises, don’t hesitate to ask for help or advice from the two junior deans who are resident in St. Michael’s Hall or from the other administrative and academic staff who work in the building.
Second, you will encounter a different, highly demanding academic environment. In the M-CMRS program, you will be enrolled in two tutorials for 8 weeks each semester. Every week, you will write a paper for each tutorial, which you will discuss in an intense one-to-one session with a tutor. You will also take a seminar course, and in the period of time outside the regular Oxford term (the first 4 weeks in autumn, the last 4 weeks in spring) you will work on an independent research paper under the guidance of an academic supervisor. Although the academic staff is available every weekday to answer your questions and give you advice, your success in completing these courses will depend to a large extent on your own motivation and initiative.
You will find the academic program challenging, but it should also be rewarding. We will encourage you to pursue extra-curricular activities, by joining local clubs, societies and teams. You should also have time to explore Oxford, London and other parts of the U.K. on your own. The staff at St. Michael’s Hall, including the Principal, Guy Perry, the Senior Tutor, Dr. Marie-Louise Lillywhite, the Administrator, Fiona Kilby, and the Assistant Senior Tutor, Alexandra Paddock, will do everything they can to make your stay here a positive one.
This will be an exciting adventure for you, and we wish you all the best as you head out on it!
Principal, Middlebury College – CMRS Oxford Humanities Program
Associate Professor at Middlebury College & Fellow by Special Election, Keble College