Sam Lorden strives for success at Oxford


Courtesy of Sam Lorden

Sam Lorden after a lecture at Oxford

Chloe White, Editor in Chief

A tall, dark-haired man in a blue suit. The towering spires of one of the world’s oldest universities. Sam Lorden at Oxford seems a match made in heaven — but what does he have to say about it?

Sam, a 4th-year business major, jumped on the opportunity to be a student at one of the most well-renowned universities in the world. Since his arrival, he’s found triumph and defeat, community and comfort — mostly at the pub. Hear how Sam has grown, savored and succeeded during the last two months in the United Kingdom.

Can you explain your program and how you came to be on it? 

This program — called Scholarship and Christianity in Oxford (SCIO) — allows students to study at Oxford with full access to lectures, tutorials, libraries, and sports. It’s not an outside perspective; Oxford University ends up in the transcript. 

I wanted to participate in this program the moment I heard about it. Unfortunately, I was the wrong major and my grades weren’t up to scratch. So I declared a minor, finished my lower division courses, got my GPA up, set up references, and worked through the application.

Is it intimidating to be in a new type of learning environment with other very intelligent students? 

New cultures have their own modes of language, dress, mannerisms and, most notably, social currencies. For example, on the east coast, the currency might be power and money, on the west coast, sex and fame, etc. Subsequently, upon placing yourself in a new situation, you will likely find yourself to be relatively poor in said currency.

Here the currency is intellect and I have some catching up to do. It’s a lot of hard work but I can feel my mind stretching and growing and I am meeting the most interesting people.  

What’s one of the most interesting things you’ve learned since being there?

Mind the gap. 

How have you been able to be culturally immersed since being in England?

Social, academic and professional life is centered around the pub. Where do you meet with friends? The pub. Where do you meet with professors? The pub. Where does recovery happen after an afternoon of rowing on the Thames? The pub. 

I have also gotten plugged in with a great church. As Christians, our community is set up for us no matter where we go. I found a church that was good enough and began to put down roots. And where do we go after the service ends? Yep, the pub. 

What’s one thing that has surprised you about your experience?

Look into the stories in the Old Testament of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses or the Israelites. Again and again, they end up in the wilderness, and it is in the wilderness that they find blessing. The wilderness epitomizes chaos: danger, unknown, the possibility for great and terrible things. It is in these frontiers that we must push ourselves. Studying abroad is full of the unknown. Certain aspects have not been easy but I am blessed to be where I am. 

I would encourage other students to not miss the opportunity to study abroad. Westmont is lovely — so lovely it is hard to leave. But, have you ever met someone who did not recommend their study abroad experience? 

P.S. apologies to anyone who has tried to reach me, I can’t access my US number at the moment. WhatsApp is your best bet!

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