Stories

The Oxford University Tour Guide

During my Oxford Day Trip, I only managed to hear one travel tale. But it was a good one about Oxford University! As I was on the Footprints Free 2- Hour Walking Tour, I had the brilliant idea to ask our tour guide for a story. When asking for a story, there’s always the risk that someone will say no and it’s absolutely terrifying. Luckily, our tour guide agreed!

Our tour guide’s name was Jo and she gave one of the greatest walking tours I have ever been on! “Oh my goodness! A story of what?” Jo said after I asked for a tale. Well, at the start of our tour, she gave a little background on her life and what originally brought her to Oxford . Jo mentioned that she was originally from Paris and I was completely stunned. She had absolutely no French accent! What made her move to Oxford? I decided to ask…and that’s when her story begun.

Jo’s Oxford University Story

Jo moved to England as an exchange student at Oxford University from Paris. She felt a connection to the city right off the bat. From an educational point of view, her experience here was absolutely mind-blowing. Oxford University is famous for what’s called the Tutorial System. So, basically, when you’re in an undergraduate program, you have tutorials in your college several times a week on top of your weekly lectures. These are meetings with tutors that usually tend to be fellows of the colleges. They are experts in whatever subject you are studying and will give you essays about two ore three times a week.

The meetings take place so that the tutors can really challenge the ideas in your essays. There are a maximum of two other students with you in your meeting. “Imagine how much work you can get done in those meetings!” Jo exclaimed. “To me, that was the most mind-blowing thing ever and I felt I learnt so much during those meetings with my tutor.”

Let me stop the story right there. Jo was speaking about this Tutorial System with such excitement and admiration. It was as if these extra meetings, essays, and school work were a million dollars she had found under her bed. And the only thing that I could think was, “Holy crap, that sounds awful.” This is why Jo went to Oxford University and I did not.

After Jo’s year at Oxford University, she returned to France to finish her degree. But all she could think about was her return to the beautiful city in England. Jo applied for a Master’s in Biodiversity Conservation (I pretended to know what that meant) and was admitted to the program. She’s been living in the city ever since!

After talking a bit more about her experience at Oxford University, she calmly added that there was another reason she returned to the city for good. On the third day of her year as an exchange student, she met the man of her dreams! My mouth dropped. “A love story?!” Tell me more!” I nearly shouted at her.

Jo was invited to a party on her third day at Oxford University and obviously accepted. See, university isn’t all about tutors! And at that party, she fell in love with a man and they’ve been together ever since. Want to hear the best part about this story? They got married in their college chapel! I mean how cute is that?

Now, they’re living in Oxford and Jo is giving tours for Footprints. It turns out English is actually her third language after French and Swedish, but she has a perfect English accent! I was pretty impressed. I think it would be a bit difficult to be unimpressed with a graduated Master’s student from Oxford University, don’t you?

Jo ended her story with this: “The thing that I realized was so many people come here. Of course there are a lot of amazing tour guides. But the one thing that I could also offer is the inside to what it’s like to study here. I want to share some of the things I’ve learned over time and give people a different insight to the city.”

So, if you happen to be going on an Oxford University adventure, make sure you keep your eyes out for Jo and let her know I say hello!

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