The Oxford Experience

(Note from England #1:)
You don’t have to win a Rhodes Scholarship to go to Oxford. The university’s Department for Continuing Education runs a summer program called The Oxford Experience that is open to everyone. No special knowledge or qualifications are required, just an interest in the chosen subject.

In fact, the residential program of one-week courses is enormously popular with vacationing Americans, since it provides the opportunity to stay and study in Christ Church—founded in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey—which is one of the most prestigious and beautiful of Oxford colleges. Participants reside in rooms where English prime ministers and poets once lived and dine on High Table in the impressive Hall made famous in Harry Potter films.

The Oxford Experience will take place next summer, during five weeks from July 5 to August 8. The 50-plus courses offered include “Alice’s Adventures in Oxford” (taught by Edward Wakeling from July 5 to 11)…There are no tests, no papers, but small groups (maximum 12 to a class) taught by friendly tutors. Participants range in age from thirty-something to ninety-something, with many active retirees.

The best news right now is that due to the stronger dollar, a one week course that cost $1,900 last summer, costs only $1,485 for summer 2009 (calculated at today’s rate, 1GBP = US$1.49)! Included in the price are tuition, accommodations and all meals—a full English breakfast, buffet lunch and served three-course dinner. Once a week each participant is invited to dine on High Table and on the final night everyone gathers for champagne in the flower-filled Cathedral Garden and a festive farewell dinner in Hall.

Most courses provide excursions to (for example) stately homes, cathedrals and museums, and on some afternoons tours of Christ Church and the city of Oxford are offered. In the evening there might be a pub crawl, a special lecture, wine and croquet in the Master’s Garden, Evensong in the college chapel (which is also the Oxford Cathedral), and occasionally the bizarre-but-traditional Morris Dancers perform.

The deadline for registration online is May 15, 2009, by mail May 1, 2009, but early application is recommended as courses fill quickly (and who knows if the exchange rate will remain favorable). For more information, visit or write to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square , Oxford , OX1 2JA , U.K.