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Meet Arielle Askren

Student Profile: Studying Abroad with Northwest Nazarene University

Story by Dax Wandling, Class of 2009

It is really quite easy to bring a smile to Arielle Askren's face. The junior communication major from Bend, Ore., absolutely lights up when discussing her favorite topic: her student abroad program at the University of Oxford.

Arielle spent the fall of 2009 in a study abroad program at Oxford's Wycliffe Hall as a part of NNU's partnership with the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). While a member of the Scholar's Semester at Oxford, Arielle was able to immerse herself in the history and culture of England's oldest university.

"Everything about England is magical," Arielle often says. "Being surrounded by all of that history and antiquity was inspiring."

Inspiration was necessary. While attending Oxford, Askren took three courses: a five-week course on British history, complete with field trips to Stonehenge; and, two eight-week courses, one called Theories of the State as well as Irish Nationalist Politics.

Her classes, or tutorials, consisted of writing one paper per week, and then discussing it in-depth with her professors, one-on-one. It may sound simple, but Arielle says nothing could be further from the truth.

"I was really nervous the first time," she sheepishly reports. But, after the first tutorial, she says she improved by leaps and bounds.

Helpful in her success was the education she had received in her classes at NNU. "Without the expertise of my professors at NNU I would have been totally lost at Oxford."

The tutorials stretched her, challenging her to think about the assigned reading in different ways and exposing her to new ideas. For instance, Arielle took a class on Irish history that covered the 19th century to the early 20th century.

"I learned so much and discovered a love for Irish history."

That tutorial also gave Arielle opportunity to seek inspiration for her primary class, Theories of the State. She was taught in the same room where iconic, British political philosopher Thomas Hobbes used to study.

"Toward the end of my time at Oxford, I would have to force myself to stop, look up and just take in the history of the university."

Arielle's education, though, hardly stopped at the door of the library. Because more than 30 percent of Oxford's student body is not from England, she was able to interact with different cultures at every turn, not to mention learning about England's very different cultural history.

"I was told that England and America are very similar," she says, shaking her head. "That's just not true." Everything from terms for everyday items like sweatshirts to pastimes is different than those in America, she says.

Of her time spent in England, Arielle says, "I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I can't wait to go back." She refers to the study abroad experience as one of the most formative periods in her life and is grateful for the opportunity NNU provided for her.