St. Clare's College was the perfect place to study abroad for those who want to be academically challenged but still have the experience of getting to travel and explore while abroad.
There was a great variety of class choices, especially in the humanities and social sciences, such as philosophy, religion, and history. I took 6 classes while I was there, and two of them were tutorial style where it was just myself and the professor. These classes were exrtremely beneficial because it allowed me to pursue my particular interests within a subject matter, and allowed for my writing to improve a lot, because I got one-on-one feedback throughout the semester. Three of my classes had between 4-7 students and were primarily discussion based. The last class I took was a seminar that revolved around a specific topic, and brought in different speakers from different disciplines. This was held on Oxford University's campus and had speakers from St. Clare's, Oxford University, and Oxford Brooks. All of my classes were very writing intensive. I wrote 16, 10-12 page papers while studying there, which yes, was a lot, but it improved my writing to a level that I was very proud of.
I lived in the dorms which were about 1.5 miles from city center and about .75 miles from class. The neighborhood was really nice and safe. There was a bus stop right outside the dorm, multiple markets, restaurants and bars nearby. The dorms itself were really nice. I had a roomate, and we shared a room which had two beds, two desks a kitchen and a bathroom. The rooms were cleaned almost everyday which was a nice touch. Every American would be paired up with an international roommate which was a really fun experience, and a great way to have Americans get to know people from all over the world. My roommate was from Belgium, while my friends had roommates from Norway, The Netherlands and Colombia.
There were plenty of bars, pubs and clubs in the City Center of Oxford to be entertained on the weekends. Most weekends though I was traveling to other countries. I would usually leave on Thursday night or Friday morning (no one had Friday classes) and we would take an express bus to London Heathrow which took about 1 hour. There was also another bus that ran every hour that would take you to the middle of London if you wanted to spend the day or weekend there. I found it to be the perfect hub to fly out of. I felt I could focus on school during the week, and do some small things around Oxford, and then could go off to something bigger over the weekends.
I loved my experience here, and would have stayed a full year if I could have (I only stayed for one semester). Academically and socially you will not be disappointed. And if you're worried about not getting the drastic cultural exchange because the UK is still an English speaking, western nation, the integration of American and International students at St. Clare's brings that element in.