Kathleen Casey ‘23 on Studying Abroad at Oxford

Caroline Wallace ‘23 
Features Editor

One of the great programs that the College of the Holy Cross has to offer is the opportunity to study abroad. Kathleen Casey ‘23 is spending her Junior year studying at Mansfield College at University of Oxford in England. Casey included that “Mansfield College is one of Oxford’s 39 colleges” and the colleges as a whole make up the University. While Kathleen will be studying abroad for two Holy Cross semesters, she will be studying at Oxford for three trimesters. The trimesters “are nicknamed the Michaelmas Term, Trinity Term, and Hilary Term.” 

Casey’s method of learning has also changed. Instead of meeting regularly for class, she has two tutorials. Casey described the tutorial method as such: “My tutors give me a reading list, and I spend the week reading about the subject material. I’m expected to come to each tutorial with a 2,000 word essay on what I’ve read. During the tutorial, I read my essay out loud to the tutor, who interrupts me with questions and feedback.” Casey equated it to something similar to “office hours with Holy Cross professors.” 

When it comes to social life, Casey feels that events are more formal at Oxford. She shared, “Last week I attended a formal dinner followed by a ‘Champagne and Chocolate’ event. The dinner was three courses and the dress code was black tie.” These kinds of formal events are the norm, and Casey’s college hosts them every other week. Casey included that she just recently attended an “‘Oxford Women in Law Society Event’ where they served champagne and facilitated networking,” and all the women in attendance were required to wear formal cocktail dresses. 

One adjustment for Casey has been the fact that, unlike Holy Cross, Oxford has no central campus. Casey stated that her dorm is a twenty minute walk from where her tutorials take place and the dining hall that she eats at. She included that because of this distance, she is missing her short walks to Kimball. She also misses the number of choices she had at Kimball. At Oxford, she must request what she wants to eat “for each meal one week in advance, and you can’t change your mind.” 

Like Holy Cross, Oxford has many traditions, and one of the most popular is matriculation day. Students wear a certain attire known as ‘sub fusc,’ which is Oxford’s traditional academic attire. This attire is worn for “matriculation, graduation, exams, and formal dinners/events.” Undergraduate students have shorter gowns than graduate students, and Casey included that “gown size can also signify how smart you are. Students who scored well on their entrance exams have longer, baggier gowns.” Matriculation day was a special day for Casey as she got to experience “the whole city…dressed in sub fusc.” 

Casey has also been participating in the Oxford Union which is “the oldest debate society in the world and attracts speakers like Michelle Obama.” She says, “Last week I attended a debate about whether people should continue to look to the U.S. for global leadership.” Casey looks forward to other events such as the Mansfield Ball, which will have an open bar and food trucks for the students to enjoy. She also hopes to attend the “‘Varsity Trip’ which is the Oxford-Cambridge joint ski trip to the French Alps. The trip is very popular, and most students consider it one of the ‘must-do’s.’” She also hopes to explore during her month-long spring break in between her Hilary and Trinity terms! 

Photos courtesy of Kathleen Casey ‘23 

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