Ryan Lee

Ryan studied English as a Visiting Student at Pembroke College Oxford from 2018 19.
He returned to Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA where he studies English and Political Science.

I studied English here at Pembroke and it was wonderful. I wasn’t as social as other students here because I was always writing. That’s a good thing I loved it! I hadn’t previously had the opportunity to spend all day thinking about English. 

The tutorial system was, I think, the ideal way to learn, particularly in the Humanities and Social Sciences, and challenged us to develop reflexive and ambitious opinions. It was amazing to see our essays evaluated each week by faculty who continually pushed us further and who came to know us as individuals. That level of direct faculty attention is simply unprecedented in my experience and has given me the tools and confidence to further pursue academia. 

I think that many universities feel the weight of a closing job market; humanities education is losing funding and becoming more pre professional Oxford is less encumbered by those pressures. At Pembroke, I could step back and dwell on ideas, and as a Visiting Student I was able to design courses to fit the questions I personally had about my field. It’s what I’ve always wanted from academia. There is so much time and so many books! 

Another highlight of my time here was joining the Oxford Union. My main role was to sit on the Oxford Union library committee, which has a gigantic book purchasing budget. I feel that I am leaving a sort of legacy of myself there because I have been able to introduce more progressive voices and more American literature. The library had no books by James Baldwin, for example, who is an important US writer of the mid 20 th Century particularly for African American studies and LGBT activism. 

I am incredibly grateful for this year in Oxford. My parents come from middle income immigrant families and to think that I could do something like this is still unfathomable to me. I hope someday to return.