Shakespeare in Oxford program takes senior student overseas

Rachel Surratt in London, England.
Rachel Surratt exploring the streets London, England.

“To unpathed waters, undreamed shores,” said Shakespeare in his famous play The Winter’s Tale.

For as long as she can remember, senior Rachel Surratt has been compelled by reading. Her love of language from both reading and writing compelled her to study English as a minor while completing a major in psychology through the University Honors Program at Colorado State University.

During Surratt’s freshman year at CSU, she visited different regions of Europe and fell in love with the city of London. So, when she discovered the Shakespeare in Oxford education abroad program, she jumped at the opportunity to return to England. “It was obviously a once in a lifetime experience, and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it,” said Surratt.

Sponsored by the University Honors Program at CSU, this one month, faculty-led experience gave students the opportunity to study in one of the most prestigious English-speaking universities in history. Under the instruction of renowned Oxford University professors, students learn about the history of the Oxford campus as well as surrounding areas in the city relevant to their Shakespeare studies.

“I would say I really liked learning in the oldest English institution in the world but also disliked learning in the oldest English institution in the world,” said Surratt. While the accelerated course load and the intimidating university was difficult to adjust to, Surratt learned a lot about herself. “I’m so glad I was able to experience it because it helped me grow as a person in so many ways and helped teach me how to be more independent in my studies and just all aspects of life,” she added.

Over the course of the program, students take a total of six credits, or two classes, to complete the summer term. They live in the residence halls and go through a similar higher education experience as those who attend the university.

During the trip, Surratt learned how to travel through different parts of Oxford, England. “Learning to navigate a life in a country you know very little about [was the most valuable experience I took away from the trip]. It’s so different than a typical college environment like CSU, and you have to learn how to be completely independent,” said Surratt.

In addition to the university experience, this annual trip lets students explore the history and culture of Oxford. Students get to attend Shakespeare plays in the same city where Shakespeare himself walked the streets, and go to the same pub where distinguished writers J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis spent their time. This program is a unique and rare chance for students to not only study in one of the most renowned universities in the world, but to experience an unparalleled historical adventure fit for The Bard.

The Department of English is in CSU’s College of Liberal Arts.