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 Back to SummaryWoubzena Jifar - Student Advisor Profile

photo of Woubzena Jifar
Stanford in Oxford — Spring 2008-09
MAJORS: Anthropology
Tutorial: Immigration Policies

ACADEMIC INTERESTS/RESEARCH: How do different cultures approach philanthropy? More specifically I am interested in exploring the development and expansion of NGOs in Ethiopia.

The first time I knew I wanted to travel abroad was during my Admit Weekend visit. I walked into the big auditorium in Hewlett (where Chem 31A/B lectures take place for those science majors) and found myself surrounded by potential Stanford students and parents looking down onto a group of panelists. I was overwhelmed by the number of overseas centers Stanford had and ecstatic to have such an opportunity to embark on one of them. As my Stanford career formed over the years and I became aware of my interests I never lost site of my goal to go abroad.

The journey I took that eventually made my destination Oxford is quite long and impertinent; however, I wanted to highlight the beginning because the first time I walked down High St. I felt the same exact feeling as when I walked into that auditorium. The same rush of enthusiasm for what is to come in the near future. It hit me then on the first day of arrival that while I was excited about the rigorous program and how intellectually stimulated I would be, I never stopped to consider the place (not the institution) I will be experiencing. As we walked around Oxford and merged with tourists (very similar to the tourists who stare into our classrooms at Stanford) we were reminded that the Oxford term had yet to start and we have much to explore before jumping into the whirl wind of tutorial meetings.

The Stanford House was described to me as one someone might find in a Harry Potter book but this didn’t help me understand it any better as I became a Harry Potter fan after my time in Oxford.

The Stanford House was described to me as one someone might find in a Harry Potter book but this didn’t help me understand it any better as I became a Harry Potter fan after my time in Oxford. Actually, I don’t think I have found a way to describe it even after being there for a quarter and constantly reminiscing about it since I have left. The idea of six houses turned into one seems easy enough until you attempt to walk through the house to find friends. I am still not sure why I had to go up a set of stairs only to come back down the same number of stairs on the other side or why there are two completely different designs of stairs on either side while there is no indication of a partition ever existing.

My bewilderment with the Stanford House was only the beginning of my exploration in a city that was completely foreign to me. I won’t even begin on the roads and cars driving on the wrong side of the street, as that was the least of my fascination. (I participated in a sports tournament in Nairobi, Kenya once that gave me a leg up on the traffic rules in Oxford.) What I was not prepared for was the hundreds of years old buildings that we were surrounded by. Trying to describe Magdalen’s deer park, punting on the Thames, strolling in Christ Church Meadows, picnicking in University parks, visiting Pitt Rivers, watching boats race in Eights’ Week while drinking Pimm’s or sitting down at the Rose for some tea and scones will be like trying to describe the feeling you get (I would imagine) when you are holding your first born for the first time, impossible to envision but absolutely delightful when it happens.

The arrival of Oxford students was apparent as many students biked or walked around in their “Harry Potter” robes. At first I felt a little left out as we did not wear any kind of robes and therefore can not be identified as students in Oxford, but soon after someone explained the meaning of the robes to me that lead me to appreciate my temporary status. The robe length is an indicator of how well an Oxford student is doing: the longer the robe the better you are performing at Oxford.

By the end of the eight weeks I had accomplished my goal for attending the program but more importantly learned about immigration that seems to be the center of discussion in popular media these days.

My primary goal in attending Stanford-in-Oxford was to improve how I write academically. I came to Stanford as a pre –med and Human Biology major. As you may have noticed from my introduction above I am now well on my way to completing an Anthropology major. I decided to go to Oxford because I realized that writing was one of my strong points that I never really cultivated, as I was a science major. My tutorial was on Immigration Policies in different parts of the world and my tutor worked with me every week to cover as many aspects of immigration as possible. By the end of the eight weeks I had accomplished my goal for attending the program but more importantly learned about immigration that seems to be the center of discussion in popular media these days.

My experience at Oxford was unpredictable. I did not expect all the possibilities that came along with being at Oxford as I was focused on what I wanted to accomplish academically. Needless to say, my expectations were met and exceeded in my time abroad. My only regret is that I didn’t discover Oxford earlier in my Stanford career so that I could have done it for a longer period of time. I hope I have given you enough random experiences at Oxford to at least make you consider to apply to this program, if not encourage you to come talk to us about our experiences that are too many to fit into this profile.

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