When I first discovered Robert Frost’s iconic poem The Road Not Taken in middle school, I easily dismissed it as…well, rather boring.
I would occasionally revisit it over the next almost two decades, and I gradually began to develop an appreciation for it. That appreciation evolved into a much deeper understanding of what Frost intended to convey. This realization was only possible because of my own, albeit unconscious, decision to take the road less traveled.
That road led me to Wroxton College.
Before I get too far ahead, please allow me for some exposition. Nestled in the heart of Oxfordshire, England, Wroxton Abbey was established as Fairleigh Dickinson University’s England campus in 1965. Students from FDU and Rutgers have had the opportunity to study abroad there throughout the year, from summer sessions to full, 15-week semesters.
When I initially heard about the two-week International Corporate Communication and Culture course, I knew I’d be doing myself an injustice were I not to relish it. I’d wanted to visit England for some time and always wanted the chance to study abroad.
An Unforgettable Experience
Over the course of my stay, I found myself engrossed in a culture that had some similarities to, but was also clearly different from, the one I’ve been accustomed to my entire life back home. From the narrow roads that weave through the countryside; the morning coffee and afternoon tea breaks that divided the days into almost equal increments; to the “no-tipping” policy that exists in pubs and restaurants (you do, however, have to typically order food and drink at the bar!); and the beautiful, historic architecture that lined the well-known cultural centers of London, Oxford, and Stratford-upon-Avon, respectively.
In addition, this doesn’t even include the knowledge my peers and I received within the classroom, where seminars that spanned a wide range of subjects (including two sessions at Harris Manchester College, Oxford University!) broadened our understandings on the British education system, politics, and the very foundations of the modern concepts of communication.
My understanding of Frost’s poem was fully realized during my journey. It occurred during a deep walk into the woods that cover the back half of the abbey’s estate. I happened upon a path that stretched in two directions. I was unsure of where either led, and I realized that it didn’t matter.
Because I was already on the road less traveled.
Every decision I ever made led me to that point. And I predict that a lot of my future decisions will be affected, whether consciously or not, based on this experience. But enough about me. I’d be remiss if I didn’t share one of the most important aspects of the journey.
The Shared Experience
In the end, the full effect of the experience could not have been felt without the company that was kept. Over a very short time span, bonds were forged between complete strangers, and the ties that already did exist among members of the groups became stronger. And it can all be attributed to the beauty of the shared experience.
There were 22 students in my course, with a diverse mix of personalities stemming from both Rutgers and FDU. Another group comprised of students from the Master of Information program at SC&I was also studying British Archives and Collections at Wroxton. While there were times when we were often apart, the times that we were together showed a varied set of backgrounds, disciplines, age ranges, and professional experiences. At the same time, we were also a unified set, where none of those differences mattered.
While we may not see each other again, that connection will forever be constant. We had a shared experience. A shared connection.
We will always have Wroxton College 2018.
By Ryan Diminick