The trip is set and the semester at Oxford, England for the spring of 2008 should be the most memorable one, with new instructors and a refurbished agenda.Study abroad program coordinator Joseph Sierra decided this semester to place the Oxford England program up for bid.

Thanks to a tip from Amy Ulmer, a veteran to the Oxford program, and current dean of the English division, American Institutes for Foreign Study will be curating the program.

Companies like AIFS are responsible for organizing the airfare, transportation to and from London, orientation meetings, and other activities for students. “[AIFS] were extremely responsive, and very student-centered,” said Ulmer, whose daughter previously partook in a semester at Oxford.

Sierra was pleased with AIFS because they were able to lock the price for the trip to $6,770, including a “group air” packet, a service not being offered by other agencies, according to Sierra.

The AIFS also arranged an intimate night tour of Stonehenge where students will bypass the fenced area.
Included in the instructional hours of the class are visits to sites related to the readings being taught by lead professor Brian Kennedy, and first-time study abroad professor Derek Milne.

“Professor Milne and I planned [trips] to take advantage of the curriculum. One of those excursions is to Salisbury, so we will be seeing the cathedral that will tie into our reading,” said Kennedy, referring to a mid-19th century British modernist novel students will be reading about a man who goes mad trying to build the largest cathedral spire.

“We’re not taking you to England to sit in a room. You can sit in a room here . but we’re also taking the trips to the museums, going to London, going to the plays,” said Kennedy.

Anthropology professor Milne is avidly anticipating returning “as an aging professor” to England since his days as a student there over 20 years ago.

“I’m really excited to see how much different [England] is, and how different I am, but also to have the experience again because I really loved it. It was really important to my life,” he said. “[The Oxford program] is more structured and may be better for community college students.”

The classes are taught by PCC standards, not Oxford. “For our students it’s probably going to be a good thing that they are doing study abroad but in the context of a familiar system,” said Milne. The difference being that, “Less of your class time is in a class room. I think that makes education better,” he added.

Students will be housed closer to their classes than ever before. “Since we’re no longer in the city’s center the students will be much closer than we used to be. I would say that everyone will be [within a] 10 to 15, maybe 20 minute bus ride away, and some will actually be able to walk,” said Sierra.

“You’ve got to not think L.A. It’s kind of like Old Town [Pasadena] to [PCC], that is the city of Oxford,” said Kennedy.
Commenting on college students going abroad: “It’s a really important time to travel and get out and see the world.”
“It is a life-changing experience for the students,” said Ulmer, and a chance to “get out of your comfort zone.”
As eventful the trip may be, not everybody is too happy about the price.

“The cost is a bargain when you compare it to something like doing a year abroad through the UC system,” said Milne.
“They make it as affordable as possible. People have ways of putting the money together.”

Last year, the program was subject to a price shift that almost had students canceling the trip.

The U.S. dollar is currently seeing a six-year low – the price of the trip was locked at a higher dollar rate.

Sierra said he would rather cancel the trip and cover the costs than have the price for students rise.

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