Alumni Spotlight: Christopher Yates


Christopher lives in Tucson, Arizona. He is 17 years old and a junior in high school. He has always considered himself an artistic person, as he loves playing the guitar/ukulele, and has developed a passion for filmmaking during his high school career. As such, he plans on majoring in film during college. He plays the bass on his church's worship team every Sunday, and also recently achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

Everyday at Lady Margaret Hall, we would wake up to a very British breakfast in the dining hall (which has a striking resemblance to the Great Hall in Harry Potter), attending our morning classes immediately afterwards. For my morning class, I chose Marketing and Advertising, in which I learned about the various advertising strategies used by corporations, took a couple trips into town to observe those strategies in action, and even got to taste test products to see if we could actually notice the difference, an activity I particularly enjoyed.

Right after morning classes was my favorite part of the day: lunch. The meal itself could hardly be considered my favorite part of this four hour period, however. What I loved most was exploring Oxford in all its beauty and complexity; finding a new restaurant everyday was always a highlight for me and my friends. There’s many exotic and unique tastes to try all across the city, so it’s a great opportunity to really get familiarized with the layout of everything as well.

Once we returned to Lady Margaret Hall, we attended our afternoon classes. I took British Invasion, a class on the history of British music over the past half decade or so and also one of my favorite parts of the trip. I learned a lot and Richard is a fun and engaging teacher, so I highly recommend the course!

After that, the evenings were ours; we could stick around LMH and take part in one of the numerous activities offered by the program’s staff, or head back into town. We almost always ended up staying behind though, the activities were that good! At around 11 PM, it was off to bed to get ready to do it all again the next day.

Ten years from now, what's the one thing you think you'll remember from the trip?

Without a doubt, the thing that resounded with me most was all the friendships I made. It’s been six months since the program ended, and I still speak to most everyone every day.

What I felt was truly great about the program was that everyone was in the same boat as me; we all started out as strangers, taking a leap of faith and travelling to another country. But very soon, the divisions between us disappeared and we were all acting like lifelong friends. I know that’s something I’ll never forget, and the people I met are likely to continue to impact my life for the next ten years, maybe even beyond.

Has your worldview changed as a result of your trip?

Before travelling to Oxford, my perspective was limited to what I knew within the U.S. Though I was obviously aware of other countries around the globe, it never truly hit me that there was much more to the world until I went out and experienced it for myself. Seeing the London Eye, Tower of London, Big Ben, (I’m a big fan of the Oxford comma now) and Stonehenge in pictures is one thing, but seeing them in person, wow.

Ultimately, travelling to England opened my eyes to how much there is to do and see in this world, and how few of those things I’ve managed to encounter thus far in my life. It certainly broadened my horizons, and I will be travelling internationally again the first chance I get.

What was the most interesting cultural difference you encountered?

Accents! There’s loads of them, and they’re great. Obviously, British accents are in abundance, but England is a huge melting pot; there’s people of all different nationalities in Oxford, each with their own way of speaking and doing things. I particularly enjoyed the Irish accent of our RA, Jake, who I would often have to ask to repeat himself over and over.

Other than that, some noticeable cultural differences were, of course, the Briton’s affinity for tea, as well as their overall cleanliness. London (as well as Oxford), opposed to other large cities I’ve been to, was fairly clean, and this made submerging myself in the culture that much more enjoyable.

Where would you most like to travel to next?

Hmm.. that’s a tough one. I’d certainly like to travel back to England to see some of the things I missed out on this time around, but other than that, Ireland, Italy, and Russia are high on my list.

As one of England’s closest neighbors, Ireland captures my interest almost equally, and I would love to see how the cultures differ between the two nations. As for Russia and Italy, we had many attendees from the two countries at Summerfuel, and seeing their home countries (and them too of course) would really be great!