Torero Life Abroad: Katie Moser and the Learning Curve of England

Katie in Oxford

Torero Life Abroad chronicles the life of a University of San Diego student as they participate in the study abroad experience. Follow Katie Moser's real adventures, anticipation, and experiences as she studies at St. Clare's in Oxford, England, for the fall semester. She is a third-year marketing and communication studies double major, involved in the Honors Program, Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, and USDtv. This is the first installment of the series.


When I landed in London three weeks ago, I felt a mixture of excitement, exhaustion, confusion, and stiffness. It had been a long flight, with what seemed like only a minute of sleep, and my fellow classmates and I had a certain feeling in our stomachs, the feeling that accompanies a nerve-racking new endeavor. But the journey was waiting for us, nevertheless. So, readying ourselves for our adventure in Oxford, we dragged our heavy suitcases through the airport and into the taxi and began the 80-minute drive to our new home: Oxford, England.

Living the Dream

Arriving on that Sunday, with bags in our hands and a different kind of bags under our eyes, it felt unreal to finally be here. Since freshman year at USD, I have been patiently waiting for the moment I could sign up for a semester abroad. It seemed that Oxford, with its rich academic and historic culture, had always been calling me. Long before I ever set foot on British soil, I could imagine myself within the bustling town of dreaming spires, one of many students there to absorb the knowledge left behind from those who had walked the cobbled streets before us.

Four semesters later, I am finally here, settled into my room with a USD pennant pinned to my corkboard and double-decker buses passing by outside my window. But with its intimidating academic reputation and subtle quirks, it was apparent from the beginning that studying in Oxford comes with quite a learning curve.

The Learning Curve of Oxford

St. Clare’s is an international college that allows students from all over the world to study in its halls. Most of the students are on their gap year and hail from countless countries — the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Mexico and more. In fact, the only American students in my program are from San Diego. Although it was overwhelming at first to try and figure out to communicate and make friends, everyone has proven to be extremely friendly. Since none of us are from England, we're all trying to figure out the ins and outs of this town together … especially the driving on the left-hand side of the road thing.

All that being said, since most of the students do not come from English-speaking countries, they are taking English language courses, which leaves USD students to the liberal arts, or academic, course. This means that my biggest class size is three people. Yes, there are three people in my biggest class. My smallest class consists of the professor and me. It was quite a shock to realize that all of my classes are incredibly personal and that I could not hide behind someone else’s answers (not that I’ve ever done that before or anything…)

It’s been quite a challenge to discuss complicated topics with my professors during every class; it requires a lot of preparation and just a bit of coffee. It is intimidating, but it has also instilled in me the determination to learn more and expand my views of the world. I will let you know soon if I am ready to return to bigger class sizes.

Oxford’s challenges do not stop there. While adjusting to my new home, I've found that there are more battles than simply academics.

Growing Pains and Public Transportation

Walking to class in and of itself is a challenge, what with the cold, the rain, the drivers on the left side of the road, and the bicyclists. There have been multiple instances where I have looked left instead of right before crossing the road and have almost been flattened by a car or a bike. That might be the hardest thing to learn here, since the habit is so strongly instilled in me. Fingers crossed I will not get hit by anything in my time here.

Knowing that walking probably would not be my best option, what with the rain and my inability to see the cars coming around the corner, I opted to get a bus pass with many of the other students. And in case you were wondering, yes, we do ride double-decker buses to class.

I have already been presented with so many learning experiences that have helped me adjust to a new life in England, but I know my acclimation is far from over. Although I have found a lot of the adjustments relatively easy, one of the hardest challenges has been being far from home. Leaving behind friends and family after a long summer together has proven to be harder than I thought. Thankfully, I have been able to stay in contact with everyone, and my new friends at St. Clare’s have already proven that I am not far from people who care.

— Katie Moser '17

Explore this series:
Torero Life Abroad: Katie Moser and the Learning Curve of England
Torero Abroad: New Adventures and Exciting Trips
VIDEO: Adventures Abroad and Exploring Scotland
Toreros Abroad: Feeling Thankful in England
Toreros Abroad: The End of an Era
Toreros Abroad: A New Definition of ‘Home’