A 'truly unique' experience at Magdalen College


Collin Larkin ’18, a chemical engineering major who studied at Oxford University during the fall 2016 semester, says “immersing oneself in another culture is an enriching experience like no other, stimulating personal growth in ways nothing else can.”

Very early in his semester at Oxford University last fall, Collin Larkin ’18 found himself in a setting ‘incredibly reminiscent” of the Great Hall in the Harry Potter novels.

The occasion was a commencement dinner for students and faculty in the Magdalen College dining hall, “complete with academic robes, silver candelabras, hanging portraits worth millions of pounds, stained glass windows, rich dark wood walls, and long oak tables that seemed to extend forever,” Collin recalls.

“The experience was so surreal that I still can’t believe I went through the three courses and two different wines myself in a very Harry Potter-esque fashion.”

This was one of many memorable experiences that Collin enjoyed while fulfilling his longstanding goal of studying at either Oxford or Cambridge.

But it wouldn’t have happened, if Collin hadn’t persisted in applying for a non-UR study abroad program. After learning that the UR program at Oxford -- with St. Catherine’s College -- did not offer credit for the chemical engineering classes he needed for his major, Collin opted for direct enrollment at Magdalen instead. It meant organizing his trip on his own through the Oxford Study Abroad Programme. It meant foregoing any financial help from Rochester, even having to pay “several thousand dollars” for the credits to transfer.

Collin says it was worth it.

“The education I received while at Oxford was truly unique; they work on a tutorial-style teaching system, just as Cambridge does,” Collin explains. Students meet one-on-one with professors on a weekly basis for several hours in addition to going to lectures. This makes the “nature of the process much more bespoke (made to order),” Collin says, “allowing students to delve much deeper into topics than they otherwise would have been able to.”

Oxford students take the equivalent of two University of Rochester classes per term, so Collin was able to take two classes necessary for his major: heat and mass transfer and thermodynamics.

As a member of the Oxford University varsity rugby team he traveled all over England, playing in matches against other universities. He was also able to travel to other countries, including Ireland, Scotland, Spain, and Germany. “These trips reminded me why I love to travel so much: immersing oneself in another culture is an enriching experience like no other, stimulating personal growth in ways nothing else can,” Collin says.

His advice for other students considering study abroad?  “Don’t let anything stand in the way of the experience you want to have,” Collins says. “I was originally told that I would not be able to study engineering abroad at Oxford, and thus found my own way around doing so, and the result was something much better than I could have ever hoped for. “

magdalen college

Magdalen College was founded in 1458.