Over at http://barrettabrooks.wordpress.com/ I blogged consistently throughout my study-abroad trip back in school. It’s been nearly a year and a half since I returned from that trip, and as I look back I think it is intriguing to realize how such an incredible experience profoundly shifted my attitude and perspective on life.
Learning is the greatest opportunity on the face of the planet
I generally looked at learning as a chore prior to my trip to Oxford. Classes were generally powerpoint centric and less than intriguing. The caliber of my work matched my level of enthusiasm for my classes. And then I went to Oxford and found out what it meant to truly learn. To explore. To embrace the opportunity to become fluent in the language of a new idea. Life-changing.
Ideas vs. Answers
At Oxford, we talked nearly exclusively about ideas and educated opinions rather than right answers. As a result of this teaching style, they breed independent thinking and educated opinion-forming. A radical idea when you have become a pro at filling in scantron bubbles.
We might not have the answer to everything
The whole experience showed me that America probably has a lot more to learn from other countries, from our schools to our businesses to our governments than we take notice of . It’s hard to admit, but inevitably true. Most importantly – it’s ok. Asking for help and learning from others doesn’t just apply to individuals.
Enjoying Life and Creating Balance
My time at Oxford was the first period of my relatively brief adult existence in which I embraced the opportunity to explore, enjoy life, have fun experiences, and create a well-balanced lifestyle. I slept well, ate well, travelled often, embraced learning, explored new places, sought new experiences, and invested in people. And what fulfillment it gave me.
The importance of written communication
Getting a business degree in my experience means largely ignoring writing. Not so at Oxford University. I wrote nearly 200 A4 sized pages in my studies over three months. Original, researched, informed writing. That writing is the single greatest reason it has become a cornerstone of my business plan going forward and a daily routine in my life.
Going to Oxford and experiencing a different environment, less ‘commitments’, more balance, greater learning, and more opportunities for fulfillment opened up the doors of a better life. Whether it was time for me to grow in that way or the institution itself… or some combination of the two… Oxford University and my associated experience in travel, writing, balance, and fulfillment might be one of the greatest teachers I have ever had.
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