Advice from Alums

Since we are only two weeks away from the start of the Virginia Program at Oxford, I asked a couple of VPO alums to share some wisdom and helpful tips to this year’s participants.

Kim Uglum, who attended VPO in Summer 2015, and Olivia Myers who went in Summer 2016 both responded to my inquiry for advice. Kim was an anthropology and history double major who graduated this past May at Sweet Briar. Olivia was a psychology and history double major who also graduated this past May from SBC. When I was applying to the program and becoming concerned with funding my trip to Oxford, Olivia encouraged me to keep pursuing the program and find some way to attend. Looking back on her trip, she told me that if she had to do it all over again, the experience would have been worth taking out a student loan. Her sincere enthusiasm about the program really gave me insight into how special she believed it was, and it motivated me to go. I am excited to share Kim and Olivia’s advice in hopes that we can learn from their experiences.


VPO Class of 2016

Six Weeks – Six Pieces of Advice from Alums

1.) Explore

“Don’t be afraid to travel alone, it tests your character, and how good you are at running with luggage.”


“Also, don’t be afraid to go off and explore on your own. If you’re directionally challenged like me, definitely make sure your phone is charged and that you have a map if you can’t use data or wifi is unavailable.”


2.) Challenge yourself

“Push yourself outside your comfort zone (but also know your limitations and don’t be reckless).” -Olivia

3.) Utilize your resources

“Take advantage of the Bodleian libraries. There’s so much knowledge in one place, don’t let it go to waste.” -Kim

4.) Get a phone plan

“Also, a phone plan for 6 weeks is totally worth it. I did not have international calling, texting, or data, and there were a couple situations where I was relying on the kindness of strangers to find where I needed to be or contact the people I needed to get in touch with. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life, and I wouldn’t change anything about it because it gave me more confidence in being able to handle myself in that situation, but it’s not something I would choose to repeat.”


5.) Bring a water bottle, walking shoes, and versatile wardrobe

“Definitely bring a refillable water bottle and comfortable walking shoes. You are going to have so much time to explore Oxford after lectures, and other parts of Europe on the weekends if you choose to travel, so definitely have a water bottle you can refill. As for the walking shoes, make sure they’re comfortable before you walk around all of Oxford in them. I learned the hard way and ended up with a swollen ankle for about a week after wearing shoes I had assumed would be comfortable and ended up killing my feet. Definitely always have a cardigan and umbrella, but also be prepared for some potentially really hot days.”


6.) Have fun

“Most of all, have fun and don’t hold back, unless it puts you in jail or the hospital.” -Kim

Next time I write I will be living the dream in Oxford.



Olivia Myer’s pictures from Summer 2016

Sweet Briar VPO Students