Inaugural 'CSU In Oxford' Class Prepares for 2004-05 in England

Five students from Columbus State University will embark on an adventure of a lifetime this month as they pack their bags and head to England to spend a year at one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions in the world - Oxford University.

The students, Leanne Fletcher, Tony Okeke, Corey Johnson, Leslie Schorr and Erin DePlonty, will depart Columbus on Sept. 22. They are participating in a new program offered by the Center for International Education called the 'CSU in Oxford Visiting Student Program' that allows them full immersion into the Oxford way of life.

After a process of applying and interviewing, the five students received the good news in January that they had been accepted by Greyfriars Hall within the University of Oxford. All will spend the year living at CSU's Spencer House while attending college and enjoying all the perks of being an Oxford student. Some of these perks include access to university lectures, libraries and the opportunity to join clubs, play sports and dine with Oxford students.

Fletcher, an English literature senior, was accepted into the program and said she is incredibly excited and privileged to have this opportunity. She said she decided to apply for the program because it 'sounded fantastic' and said her experience in the summer Paris program fueled her desire for a much longer time abroad.

'It's that full immersion experience that appealed to me,' Fletcher said. 'I guess I want a broader perspective on life. In experiencing another culture, learning about their history and where they come from you learn about yourself and your own culture. It really contributes to your identity.'

In the spirit of 'learning about yourself,' Fletcher said she really hopes her time in England will help her grow personally. She said she wants to return more self-confident, self-disciplined and just a more well rounded person overall. 'Just to be on my own without family and close friends, it will really be a time for personal development and a time to decide where I want to go next.'

For Okeke, a sophomore history major who has also been accepted into the program, this idea of using Oxford as a stepping-stone was what really appealed to him. Okeke said he applied for the program because he feels he has a very international perspective on life and wants to use his experience at Oxford as a 'launching pad' to further his studies and his career.

He went on to say that he can't wait to get to England to drown himself in culture and said he loves the idea of the 'potential' that exists being located in Europe. 'No matter what your tastes, there is something for you. Whether you want to see the Swiss Alps or the Eiffel Tower, you can, because everywhere you turn there is something new to enjoy.'

He also said he wants to return to the United States inspired by his experiences and challenges. 'I hope to be invigorated by what I see and much more motivated academically and in knowing where I want to go,' he said.

Both Fletcher and Okeke said they are nervous about the uncertainties that lie ahead, but can't wait to face them. The two, along with their three other classmates will head to England in September only to return to familiar ground nine months later. 'I am just going to make the most out of it. Not just for myself, but for everyone who has put so much hard work into the program,' Fletcher said.

### For more information, please contact Neal McCrillis at (706) 565-4036; E-mail: mccrillis_neal@ColumbusState.edu