I remember timidly knocking on the office door. This particular administrator was someone that I hadn’t been required to have interactions with before, which is saying something for a small liberal arts college with 800 day students (or less) attending classes.

She was smiling and friendly enough, asking me my goals and why I was interested in studying abroad. I told her: “I want to be a history professor. I’m interested in this kind of history. I will learn the most that is beneficial to me at this location.”

She listened very intently, smiling and asking small, leading questions before dropping the bomb on me. “Your grades are wonderful, and with your goals I see why you would want to study there, but we have had many other students with just as stellar of records apply to the Oxford program and they were turned down. Why don’t you apply to the Australia program instead?”

My heart went still. I had always believed that I would study abroad in England. Not Australia, not Sweden, not Costa Rica. England. I believed it from the moment that I was aware that studying abroad was a possibility (which was sometime in elementary school, thanks to the large age gap between my sister and I that educated me about collegiate affairs before my time).

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Now what was I supposed to do? The one administrator who is supposed to be encouraging my dream, who should be the number one person to want a student from my college go to Oxford, she’s sitting there in her plush office chair and telling me to apply to Australia instead? It was hard to tell whether my vision was about to go red or if ice water was streaming through my veins.

I took a deep breath. “Thank you, but I already reviewed the programs offered, and only Oxford benefits my career choice.” She stopped rifling through papers on her desk and her smile faltered a bit.

Needless to say, I left her office with the full list of everything I needed for the application process. As she expected, my application to the school for allowing me to study abroad was approved. As she didn’t expect, the program in Oxford also accepted my application.

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And so I achieved the first of many dreams that I have accumulated. I spent an entire semester there, perusing the shelves of the numerous libraries, studying English history and English literature, making life-long friends with the students in my program, exploring different sites across Britain. But those are memories for another time. For now, it is my initial acceptance into Oxford University that fills my mind with self-satisfaction. I guess I just really like to prove people wrong.

-Wilber

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