Credit: Kyler Schubkegel 

 

Nothing but my wits and a few research questions…

– Kyler Schubkegel –

Michaelmas Term, 2017

 

My name is Kyler Schubkegel, and I hail from George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon. My undergraduate experience has shaped me in significant ways, but nothing has given me direction and energy like my semester in Oxford during Michaelmas 2017. The SSO allowed me to study Middle English literature as well as Thomistic theology, delightful subjects that I could not explore in great detail at George Fox.

Oxford is teeming with resources for just such a study. When I hopped on a plane bound for Heathrow, I envisioned something like the library from Disney’s animated Beauty and the Beast, a supply of literature for every question I could possibly ask. To my surprise, I hardly needed to abandon that fantasy upon arriving – the Bodleian’s twelve million items sat waiting for me to crack them open. My research knew no limits but time and imagination.

That term transformed my learning style by hurling me into a positively labyrinthine network of libraries with nothing but my wits and a few research questions. Suddenly I was the captain of my bibliographic soul, and the overwhelming freedom called upon skills I did not know I possessed. The ability to organize and direct my own intellectual labor has proven invaluable, even in various pursuits outside the academy. I credit my semester in Oxford as the moment I truly took ownership of the direction my life will take.

At the same time, I learned the fruitfulness of following a question wherever it leads. I treasure the memory of sitting in the Bodleian’s Upper Reading Room ransacking the section on Middle English saints’ biographies, following a seemingly endless trail of footnotes to new insights. It comes to mind as I wrestle with more existential questions about my place in the world and the path that lies ahead. If you will, learning to follow the footnotes in the Bodleian has helped me to follow my life’s central questions more courageously.

That spirit of exploration is one of Oxford’s greatest gifts to me. Long hours in the libraries equipped me to pursue graduate study in theology within the next few years, but SCIO programs represent a unique opportunity to do this labor among friends. When I left for England, I knew that tackling the term ahead meant following Bilbo Baggins in going on an adventure. I did not anticipate, however, the way that friendships I made along the way would extend the adventure far beyond the confines of Michaelmas 2017. I remain incredibly grateful for friends who encourage me to follow the question.

Kyler, MT17