A chronicle of fall quarter abroad at Oxford, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I am in Oxford! After so much planning and anticipation (trepidation?), it’s great to finally be here.
Now, where do I start? The entire city has a unique mix of energy and centuries-old tradition that I find very hard to describe. In any case, it’s at once invigorating and humbling, and I feel like I’m (maybe) absorbing some of the intellectual vibes that race throughout this place. Names such as Henry VIII, Albert Einstein, Robert Boyle, Alexander Fleming, T.E. Lawrence, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien keep being dropped into casual conversation about the history of Oxford, making me want to wander around with my jaw dropping in awe. Virtually every spot and every building is in some way historic. Seemingly everywhere I look, a stone spire shoots into the sky or a plaque marks the location of some monumental event or academic discovery. Some of the colleges, with their quiet stateliness, make me feel like I’ve stepped back in time, released to be and to learn anything. I keep realizing, with a small start, how blessed I am to be here.
Yet, even though history and tradition are clearly very important in Oxford (more about this later), I haven’t found this air overbearing. There’s a brisk energy on the streets, and conversation is engaging and intelligent. Many cute (and sometimes eccentric) shops flaunt interesting and colorful displays, and narrow winding roads give an adventurous air to the place. I’ve already discovered some of the more wonderful parts of living here – namely, the Covered Market and Ben’s Cookies, the quirky specialty shops, Christchurch Meadow and the gorgeous Thames (slash Isis) river. It’s clear that this city is not some dead monument, but a place that is still alive and relevant.
Here are some of my first views of the place where I’ll spend the next ten weeks of my life (it was sunny that day – not so anymore!).