Cunkelman's essay in Boston Globe Mag.
Cunkelman spent the summer interning at the Boston Globe Magazine.
When Nick Cunkelman '11 left the Hill last spring to spend a semester at St. Catherine's College in Oxford, England, he not only met new classmates and professors, but he also noticed a significant change in the academic culture. Cunkelman wrote an essay about his time overseas while interning at the Boston Globe Magazine this summer, and the publication featured his piece in its Sunday, September 26 issue.
Cunkelman's essay focused mainly on the British students' determination and strong work ethic. "I wanted to do some kind of opinion piece [and] my editor [suggested] doing something about [my] experience abroad, Cunkelman said.
While studying at St. Catherine's, Cunkelman noticed a difference in terms of his peers' dedication to their education. "As much as they tried to downplay it, my fellow scholars took their studies, and their place in college, quite seriously," Cunkelman wrote in his essay. With students taking classes solely in their major, the liberal arts element is minimal. "[Y]ou're so focused on this one course of study, [and] your cultural education is much more informal," Cunkelman said.
Cunkelman had hoped to study at Oxford University since the end of his freshman year on the Hill. St. Catherineâ€™s, a more modern school, is one of 39 colleges affiliated with the University and is home to only 800 students, Cunkelman said. â€œâ€¦[I]t was actually great because in that sense it was probably the most Colby-like of the colleges. It was really socialâ€¦.it was known as one of the strongest communities in Oxford.â€
Cunkelman studied at St. Catherineâ€™s for two terms, taking a total of four classes, the norm for visiting American students. â€œOne course met once a week for one hour and the other met once every two weeks for one hour,â€ Cunkelman said. In the meantime, â€œyou have a reading list and you have a library and you have yourself.â€
Taking classes alongside the British students prompted Cunkelman to put maximum effort into his learning. â€œInspired by the standard they set, I took to the books more than ever,â€ he wrote in his essay. However, despite their focus on academics, â€œ[the St. Catherineâ€™s students] work hard, play hard as much as we do,â€ Cunkelman said.
As a philosophy major, Cunkelman had the opportunity to work one-on-one with a Univeristy-provided tutor and explored an entirely new curriculum. â€œI would submit a course title to my college either from the lecture lists or by pure imagination and our advisor would find us the expert within the Uni,â€ he said. Frequent lectures also served as opportunities for Cunkelman to diverge from his usual schedule. â€œIn this sense you can â€˜takeâ€™ a lot of classes that you canâ€™t at Colby,â€ he said. â€œI took â€˜Ethics and Climate Change,â€™ for example, and was in class with a mix of 20-year-olds and middle-agers.â€
Although Cunkelman said he is still experiencing reverse culture shock back on the Hill, he was pleasantly surprised with his classmatesâ€™ reaction to his essay. â€œIâ€™ve gotten a lot of kudos, I wasnâ€™t expecting that at all,â€ he said. â€œIt reminds me why I love this place.â€