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Ogden Honors in Oxford 2018 Travelogue

Reflections from the 2018 Oxford Study Abroad Program
Ogden Honors in Oxford 2018 Travelogue

Ogden Honors in Oxford Group

Note from the Program Director

 

Greetings from Oxford!  The second annual Ogden Honors in Oxford program is off to a roaring start.  16 OHC students are currently studying and residing in St. Hilda’s College at the University of Oxford. We are investigating the connections between Classical and Victorian ideas, exploring the works of Thucydides and Jane Austen, Homer and Charlotte Brontë, Socrates and Charles Dickens.  Our excursions take us to some of the world’s most fascinating museums, palaces, and sites, including Christ Church, the British Museum, the Roman Baths, Kensington and Buckingham Palaces, and Roman villas throughout the Cotswolds. In this blog, the students share impressions of their time in the UK. We hope you enjoy their insights and get a sense of how studying abroad is truly an awakening!

 

Drew Lamonica Arms

 

First week in Oxford – First Impressions

 

“I hope to never leave” 

Stepping off of the bus at the train station, we immediately Googled how far away St. Hilda’s College was from us. “It’s twenty-one minutes walking,” Noah Smith said. “Call an Uber!” added Shane Strander, yet no Uber was to come. We marched twenty-one minutes onward through the city of Oxford and into our new home. As we trudged through the city streets, the historical sites that we were to later discover in the first week jutted out at us. “Is that a J.R.R Tolkien exhibit?” I exclaimed, for Tolkien is my favorite author. After crossing the road once or twice (we were not truly certain where we were going) and successfully avoiding getting hit by the backwards driving and biking habits of the British, we arrived at the Porter’s Lodge. A Porter, by definition, is a terribly-tempered man who guards his college in a Gandalf-esque, “You shall not pass!” sort of way, yet the two porters who greeted us were friendly, yet still formidable, women.

Formidable continued to be the quintessential word for most of the first impressionable week. Sitting between two great professors in a room that required entrances through eight doors, two flights of stairs, and a library to discuss the great works of Jane Austen and Thucydides on a Sunday was certainly formidable, not including the intermittent additions of Dean Earle and President Alexander. Outside of the classroom, the Gothic architecture of much of the city loomed, and the history that permeates throughout every brick signified that I have now become one part of the great history of Oxford.

Chetty-Zimmerman

On the first day of class, we explored one of Oxford’s thirty-nine colleges—Magdalen College. There, a deer park (with live deer included) named Addison’s Walk beckoned for visitors. C.S Lewis, among other notable names, once walked that park to do much thinking. As I stumbled onto the path, I thought, “think, I must think of something,” yet nothing great or famed came to mind. It was not that simple, I realized, yet thirty-minutes of thinking of something to think about did lead to three hours’ worth of catharsis. In tribute to past poets of Oxford, I even laid under a tree against the river to write a poem!

After exploring, studying, and eating my way through Oxford this past week, I cannot begin to form the proper words to attest to my love for the city. I am intimidated; I am in awe. If th

is IV of historic Oxford blood that soars through my veins right now never ends, I would find myself most happy. From dancing in the Great Hall from Harry Potter to holding stones from a Roman wall, I have fallen victim to the endless pull of Oxford, and I hope to never be released.

Bri Robertson

 

“Does character determine destiny?”

It was nine o’ clock, Sunday morning when Dr. Drew Lamonica Arms and Dr. Rex Stem posed this question to me and fifteen other jet-lagged college students.  This was our first class of the LSU Ogden in Oxford program, and already we were delving into abstract concepts of intimidating scope.  Approximately 15 hours before their query, I had arrived in Oxford, checked into my small but cozy dorm room, and perused the readings for the next day’s class.  The texts — Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War and Jane Austen’s Persuasion — seemed strange choices for comparative analysis.  How could a romantic novel and a war history have anything in common?  But with their question about character and destiny, Dr. Arms and Dr. Stem immediately challenged us to think on a grand scale, linking the ideas and ideals of Ancient Greece and Victorian England.

This was the spirit of our first week at Oxford.  In the classroom, impossible questions sparked lively discussion, students flying to support or rebut each new argument.  As hands rose and discussion moved around the table, we transitioned smoothly between Austen and Thucydides.  Despite their thematic and temporal differences, we scoured the books for common threads of human nature.  While the classroom was the site of most of our discussions, these sessions were coupled by daily excursions to Oxford that bolstered the topics of course focus.

Oxford

A bustling centre of winding alleys and crowded streets, Oxford immersed us in the landmarks of the centuries-old university.  First and foremost a center of learning, the city provided ample opportunities to enrich our studies.  The Bodleian Library system, we learned, housed more than 12 million printed volumes.  The Oxford Museum of Natural 

History displayed architecture which represented the scientific ideology of its creators.  Christ Church College, with its impressive grounds and beautiful chapel, showcased the prestige associated with Oxford.  Together, group excursions and class discussions struck a balance between literary analysis and real-world experience.

The first week of Ogden in Oxford began the program incredibly well.  A couple of surprise guests, LSU Honors College Dean Jonathan Earle and LSU President F. King Alexander, even appeared, and they offered perspectives from their careers in higher education.  And through it all, Oxford — the city and the university — seemed a living, breathing entity, its towering structures gently reminding us of the great minds that came before.  With a first impression like this, I cannot wait to find what the next two weeks hold — but even after that, once I return to the LSU Honors College, I know that my Ogden in Oxford experiences will inspire me to analyze character, considering how it fits into our sprawling, complex society.

Taylor Goss

 

Accompanied by four other students in the Ogden Honors in Oxford program, I started my journey a week early in Dublin, Liverpool, Leeds, and many other small towns along the way. By the time we train-hopped our way to the University itself, we were already acclimated to the flow and time change of our new home for the next three weeks. With that small advantage, we hit the ground running, despite my allergy attacks that I get every time I enter a new place.  At least I never got separated from the group; just follow my sneezes.

Strander-1Our morning classes were a pleasant three hours of discussion and friendly debate. After a long lunch, we would take group tours into the city. We started with a tour of the University. Little did I know, most of the buildings we walked past on the first day on the walk from the train station were part of the university. These tours had extra bonuses for Harry Potter fans for some of colleges were used to film scenes. Another day we broke up into small groups and did our own tours where my group got to explore different colleges on the campus and search graveyards for the balloonist James Sadler’s final resting spot. The list of captivating activities goes on from a trip to Bath to epic museums to high tea time. It’s hard to believe that an entire week has already flown by. At the same time, however, we did so much in only seven days.

I would do this week over and over again as many times as I could. Every time I leave my dorm room, I discover something new or meet someone from a different part of the world. I am excited to sneeze my way around Oxford for my remaining two weeks ahead.

Shane Strander

 

 

A Day in Bath – Austen and Roman Baths

 

To supplement our reading of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, our class traveled to the beautiful country town of Bath. The city quite literally springs to life with the romantic images of the aristocracy relaxing from their daily lives and the gentlemen and women enjoying a holiday in these beautiful streets. We were accompanied by our delightful guide, Mrs. Croft, and were brought to the top of the city to see it sprawled out below us along the hills. She read aloud to us Jane Austen’s own words of the city of Bath and how Anne Eliot, a character in Persuasion, had felt during her stay. Our tour of the Roman Baths was an amazing experience. We were to be able to be part of some of the earliest history of the city and to see the origins of classical inspiration in Great Britain. The Roman Baths allowed us to wanderCora Barhorst the ancient grounds and to see the preserved artifacts that have been found beneath the city from layer to layer as the city continued to grow. An attendant even brought us to see some of the further excavation that the public has not been able to view yet and tell us how the history of the Bath may have changed since finding artifacts among the ruins. We all found it amusing to imagine the much beloved Captain Wentworth and Anne sitting in the pump room and admiring these same springs and saunas of the ancients and taking their afternoon tea above this fallen civilization. I loved being able to walk along the streets and see where those beautifully charged conversations between Anne and Wentworth in a city quite literally built on the history of the ancients.

Cora Barhorst

 

When we arrived in Bath, it felt like we had traveled back in time to both Nineteenth Century England and Ancient Rome. First, we were immersed in the world of Jane Austen’s Persuasion through a walking tour of Bath. Our guide, Mrs. Croft (a character in the novel), took us to some of the most iconic places in the book, including the White Hart Inn, where Anne Elliot reads Captain Wentworth’s love letter. Then, we saw the Octagon Room and the Ballroom, both of which are featured in the book with the Assembly Rooms, and it was very interesting to see they had changed very little since Austen’s time, according to our guide. The next site we visited was one of my personal favorites: Camden Crescent. Camden is where the Elliots live in Bath. Since Sir Walter is so proud of his accommodations in Bath, I was excited to see what qualified as acceptable for the self-important baronet. Camden Crescent also had a beautiful view, which I loved. To complete the tour, we walked the gravel walk where Anne and Wentworth finally declare their love. After the tour we went to the Jane Austen Center and heard more about Austen’s life, especially her time in Bath.

Jane Austen Tour

Following our Persuasion tour, we had some free time to explore Bath. I tried the water from the natural hot spring, but all I could taste were the minerals, which is not the best flavor to have in water! Then, I spent some time looking at local shops and markets. I loved seeing modern shops and street musicians juxtaposed with the ancient style architecture. It gave Bath an amazing aesthetic. We had a nice dinner at The Roman Bath Kitchen and finished the day with a tour of the Roman Baths. We were able to experience both what Austen would have seen of the baths, such as the Pump Room and spring, and also the majority of the excavation of the ancient baths. The museum showed all of the ruins that have been found so far, and it informed guests about the engineering behind the building. We also learned about its patron goddess, Sulis Minerva. I loved looking at the baths and learning how they were used. Because we learned about Roman imperialism in class, it was interesting to see first-hand the effects it still has today in England, especially through architecture.

Jennafer Zimmerman

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a city in possession of a diverse history must be in want of Tigers.  Or rather, we Tigers were certainly in want of the countless stories she could tell. Our day-long excursion to the ancient city of Bath was not only the perfect capstone to our discussions on Jane Austen’s Persuasion and selections form Caesar’s Gallic Wars, but also has been a personal highlight to our time in Britain thus far. Bath is an idyllic 18th century town fit to bursting with rows of carved stone complexes and pockmarked by far older relics including the towering 11th century Bath Abbey and the 1st century Roman Baths nearby, all while being nestled gently into the undulating hills of the English countryside cleft only by the river Avon which flows elegantly through the center of town.Bath

From the get go, our time in Bath was practically destined to make a lasting impact on me.  We gathered near the chapel to begin our Persuasion themed walking tour of Bath with our wonderful guide, the Mrs. Croft herself. The visceral experience of witnessing the very same vistas that inspired Jane Austen to craft such tangible passion and to walk upon the same streets that she destined Anne and Captain Wentworth to stroll arm in arm was absolutely thrilling. Being able to become a part of history, to evoke time gone by to return—albeit briefly—allowed me a glimpse of Jane’s world in all its tragic beauty which simple paper descriptions could not and cannot do proper justice. Without the walking tour, and our subsequent visit to the Jane Austen Centre, I have realized that my interaction with Jane Austen’s final novel would never have been anything more than that of every other work of fiction I have read prior to Bath.

Jane, however, was but half the journey.  Several classmates and I took our time after the Austen Centre exploring Bath firsthand including: tasting the hot spring water, venturing inside the gorgeous Bath Abbey, relaxing beside the serene banks of the Avon, and then finding our way back to dinner. After which our exploration of the ancient Roman baths began which—literally—allowed us to descend into the depths of history. The sensation of touching those stones sent a thrill through my soul as I could feel connected to something so ancient that had been lost to history and human knowledge for two thousand years.

What I discovered through these wanderings though was a city far more saturated with culture and history than my readings could have prepared me. In Bath, where modern landscapes exist they are easily contrasted by artifacts of the past, where there is busyness a serene calm can also be found. Bath succeeds where so many other fail: creating a unified existence celebrating past, present, and future.

Peter Howard

 

 

London Weekend

 

“More Than A Thousand Words”

There are certain words that strike fear into the heart of every tourist. Among them are “I think we are lost” and “We missed the bus”. In London, the words “lifts out” are dreaded by those on Underground. For me, however, the words I never wanted to hear when traveling in England were…

…NO PHOTOGRAPHY ALLOWED!

If it’s not obvious, I love taking pictures and after being in Oxford for two weeks I had already taken close to two thousand photos. So, nothing broke my heart more than walking into a museum or exhibit knowing I couldn’t take pictures once inside. This happened twice on our group weekend in London. The first time was at the Treasure Room of the British Library and the second was at Buckingham Palace. Both times I sighed, shoved my phone in my pocket, and assured myself I would still enjoy the tour just as much without taking pictures.

London-1What I found was, I enjoyed it even more.

I realized I experienced places differently when I couldn’t take pictures. Firstly, I moved a whole lot slower. Often, I used to rush through every exhibit, trying to get a picture of everything to help me remember. Now, I found all I wanted to do was study and savor the artifacts I was seeing. I wanted to take in every detail, making sure I remembered them without my camera to fall back on. In the British Library, I poured over every document I could. In Buckingham Palace, I lingered in every room. Granted, this did take more time and I did not get to look at everything, but what I looked at I actually saw. And what I saw I will remember.

I will remember the beautiful blue and red embellishments of the Guttenberg Bible. I will remember leaning in as close to the glass as I possibly could to read a letter written by Queen Mary I and noticing how the flourish of her y is similar to mine. I will remember reading part of an unfinished Jane Austen manuscript and spending the rest of the afternoon thinking about how she could have finished it. I will remember analyzing the classical influence of two statues of Victoria and Albert in Buckingham Palace. I will remember closing my eyes in the Royal Ball Room, imaging what it would be like to be knighted by the Queen (a girl can dream, can’t she). I will remember looking at a beautiful gilded piano gifted to Queen Victoria while listening to a duet written specifically for her and Albert.

No, I don’t have pictures of the things, but I have the experience, the story, and the memory. In the end, that’s ten times better than a selfie with the throne.

Maddie Tinsley

 

"London Journal: Athens and London"

Throughout our trip to London, the Ogden Honors in Oxford group visited a myriad of beautiful and unique sites. After the bus ride into the city, our class took a walk to the Charles Dickens Museum. During our travels, we stumbled upon many landmarks that illuminated ties between classical antiquity and Victorian ideals, linking the key concepts of our classes with architecture, arts, and culture. Firstly, on our way to Dickens’ house, the group ran into a Greek revival temple build a few years before the Victorian era. The St. Pancras New Church, complete with stately caryatids and classical architecture, revealed a place of worship which toed the line between the ancient and the Victorian modernity. Even without studying this particular landmark during class, we were able to note the distinct markings of ancient culture as well as the influences of a Christian England. This illuminates a melding of British and Greek architecture and religion, highlighting the cultural and historical ties between England and the empires of the past.Cotswolds-3

The class then took a walk to the British Museum. I thoroughly enjoyed the vast collection of ancient artifacts, ranging from Egyptian mummies to looming Easter Island heads. The entire exhibition reinforced the imperialistic parallels between the ever-expanding city state of Athens and the British Empire, something the class discussed when reading Thucydides. One of the most interesting pieces of this museum is the large pediment above the main entrance. Seemingly inspired by the West Pediment of the Temple of Athena (housed inside the museum), this piece of architecture reveals the ideals of the British Empire, portraying the rise of man’s intelligence as well as the most important studies (architecture and sculpture, painting and science, geometry and data, as well as music and poetry). With Britannia in the crest, standing in place of Athena, this pediment reveals the importance of Greek art and influence of the classical on British life. It was amazing to notice this as our group left the museum. Dr. Stem simply pointed out the correlation between the pediment and the temple ruins inside, and with the help of google, the very act of gazing at a building became a class experience. This spontaneous moment of onsite education was incredible, and I immediately made a note to write about this experience in my journal.

Finally, during some of our free time in the National Gallery, a few of my classmates and I discovered a small room showcasing various children’s interpretations of a Renaissance painting portraying the Greek Penelope with her Suitors. Featuring a prominent story of antiquity, this entire exhibit tied perfectly into our previous week’s discussions on Homer’s Odyssey. Stumbling upon this piece during free time cemented the importance of our studies in Oxford, as this collection emphasized the importance of Greek antiquity to modern education, as well as the classical and Victorian. I thoroughly enjoyed wandering through this exhibit and seeing different interpretations of Odysseus’ journey. This put a perfect end cap to my free time in London.

All in all, this entire weekend has truly fused my learnings in Oxford with a variety of experiences. From tours of vast museums to lovely walks in the rain, all of my time in the city was well spent, increasing my understanding of classical antiquity and Victorian ideals, and further defining the spaces where they meet.

Alexandra Chetty

 

 

Around Town

 

In class we discussed an artistic revolution during the Victorian era called the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood. The brotherhood was composed of painters, sculptors, writers, and other artists who had a distinct style of art that went against the teachings of the Royal Academy. They believed that modern art taught at the Academy was getting away from the true purpose of art, and they needed to turn to medieval artworks to reconnect art with the world it was meant to describe. The PRB was known for their hyper realistic detail in all of their works. They were masters of light and color, depicting contorted figures and fabrics in a way so realistic they appear photographic. In class we were able to look at pictures of paintings and tapestries made by the brotherhood. Then we went to Exeter College and the Ashmolean AshmoleanMuseum to witness, in person, the skill of the PRB. Being in the presence of such great pieces made their workmanship much more appreciable. On a screen the paintings were less detailed and the tapestries much less fine. Being able to get up close and seeing the shadows the artists put on a blade of grass, seeing the individual feathers on the wings of birds, and seeing how the different colored threads of the tapestries blended with one another is an experience only possible in the physical presence of a great work of art. It is difficult for cameras to capture the true quality of the work that went into the art. Being kept behind glass makes photographs even less flattering of the detail that is so clearly visible in person. Without being in front of one of the paintings, I would not have fully understood the true value that is held in the works that the PRB produced. After being able to walk down the street and see the works of art in person, though, I can see how much the art meant to the artists and how dedicated they were to sharing their best work with others. 

Adam Howe

 

"Character is Destiny: Homer’s Odyssey, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and Blenheim Palace"

 

Character is destiny. This was the topic posed throughout our discussions as we analyzed Homer’s Odyssey and Charlette Bronte’s Jane Eyre. As the class examined Odysseus’ reliance on the gods to help him reach his homeland, Ithaca, we wondered if somehow there was more to destiny than just character. Upon study of Jane Eyre’s journey to coexist with Mr. Rochester, there was also something missing from the character/destiny equation. This class discussion led me to the following conclusion: Destiny is a product of one’s character and divine providence. Combining these two literary works reveals that each character, in some way, relies on divine assistance to help them reach their goal. Not only was the class discussion stimulating, but our location for class provided a most appropriate backdrop for further analysis. Enter Blenheim Palace, the exquisite residence of the Duke of Marlborough. The palace was given to the first Duke after the success of the battle of Blenheim, and it was the birthplace of the most revered Winston Churchill. The Corinthian pillars stood below OdysseyBritannia, holding her trident as a symbol for control over the oceans. The ornate architecture of the palace shouted Imperialism and the fight for British domination. The classical influence on monumental Britain era can be found not just in the architecture of Blenheim Palace, but in our literature as well. Both Odysseus and Jane Eyre embark on an odyssey; that is, they both embark on a journey of self-discovery. Important too is the understanding of both Homer and Brontë’s definition of destiny. I would argue that the destiny of both characters is to find their home, and that their safe arrival depends both on their character and divine providence. Gathering insights from Blenheim’s architecture, it was clear to see that Victorian writers too take influence from their classical counterparts. Both Brontë and Homer’s heroes share the same character flaws, graces from the divine, and destiny. Debating the question of whether character is destiny made for a successful day at the palace.

Collin Devillier

 

 

Roman Cotswolds

 

"A Day in the Cotswolds: Class in the Ruins"

The unusual, strikingly arid summer Great Britain is experiencing makes the countryside more enchanting in my opinion, an enchanting blur which causes one to think they’ve been trapped in seasonal limbo. On our bus ride to the Chedworth Roman Villa today, the landscape flashed its rolling hills of golden grass and large green trees, set against an azure sky. This rare rainless weather sequence is the effect of a heatwave ravaging the nation, causing water shortages and fear of a possibly more severe drought. 

Chedworth Roman Villa

The scorching weather has also provided Britain a powerful archeological resource: parch-marks, areas where the foundations of ancient structures can be seen, because the deadened grass indicates areas where soil was compacted by stone buildings. The marks are the ghosts of ancient castles, forts, and farmhouses that have been unknown of until the heat wave. As our Chedworth tour guide Roger tells us, this is an extremely important time of year to find more historical areas for archeologists.

Roger is a retired archeologist and a motor-mouthed spitfire, an expert of Roman Britain’s history and affairs. He provided us with a brilliantly informative tour of the ruins of the Chedworth Villa. The Villa was a site particularly relevant to our current studies: the ruins themselves indicate the effect of Roman ideals on the indigenous Britons, but the original foundations of the Villa had been “restored” by Victorians in an attempt to reconstruct and reimagine the use of the building complex circa 350 AD. These archeologists, under the jurisdiction of property owner Lord Eldon, made irrevocable damages to the site in the process, which has rendered the full history of the Villa impossible to understand.Minster Lovell Hall

We engaged in a lovely trip to the town of Cirencester after our enjoyable jaunt in the Chedworth Villa for a quick bite, reconvening in the town’s Corinium Museum. The museum is small but highly specialized in its display. We observed many ancient artifacts from Roman Britain, including a number of intricate, symbolic mosaics, and we even had the opportunity to handle some relics ourselves! Our guide let us handle ancient coins and pottery; I think the coolest artifact we beheld was the head of an axe, which our tour guide told us was the oldest blade the museum owned. After this visit, it was time for our regularly scheduled (and much anticipated) class and discussion time!

 In chapter 13 of the novel Jane Eyre, Jane makes a comment to Rochester that there were most certainly no fairies left in Britain. I have to say that I echoed this sentiment until today’s excursion to the site of our literary studies: the ruins of Minister Lovell Hall. The graveyard of the modern abbey was haunting until we turned the corner to the ruins. The skeleton of these enchanting, captivating, spellbinding ruins was almost strangely familiar to me – it was very easy to feel the spirituality emanating from the ruins that could not have been replicated in a surviving, functioning building. Before we got down to work, we climbed all over the old facades like monkeys for some cute and creative photos. We eventually took a seat near the gentle river to engage in a discussion on Dickens’ Hard Times, which we then considered in light of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. After wrapping up our invigorating class, we scampered like sprites across the fields and roads to the bus that would bring us homeward to the glory of St. Hilda’s. It was most definitely a fitting end to one of my very favorite days of our adventure in England.

Isabel Bolner 

 

Our visit to the Cotswolds started at the Chedworth Roman Villa, a portion of the Cotswolds primarily underground. Our guide Roger showed us what the villa would have looked like when Britons were still living there. He described to us that in 41 A.D., under Emperor Claudius, Caesar and the Roman army invaded Britain to “civilize” them because Caesar believed the Britons to be barbaric. Roger seriously criticized the Victorians because of their Roman-1poor treatment to the precious artifacts in the villa. The Victorians had no method of recording and because of this, archaeologists will probably never find out what is under the villas and where all the artifacts went. The Victorians added stones atop the original stone walls, which are currently the only visible portion of the villa. Although we came to England in a rare drought period, it ended up being a benefit to our tour; Roger pointed out dry patches in the grass that indicate unexcavated underground foundations. We saw the natural springs that keep people living in the Cotswolds to this day.

After Chedworth, we visited Cirencester, another site in the Cotswolds. We toured the Corinium Museum, a museum dedicated to local archaeological finds. There, we saw mosaics and artifacts from Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Roman Cirencester. After a guided tour, we were able to hold some ancient coins, pottery, arrowheads, and a hand axe used for cutting materials and skinning animals that dated back between 40,000-100,000 years.

Roman-3

Our last stop was Minister Lovell Hall, built by Lord William Lovell in the 1440s. The site was primarily ruins but beautiful nonetheless. We enjoyed a scenic hour and a half of class at the ruins discussing Charles Dickens’ Hard Times and relating the novel’s ideas of education to Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave."

Camille Wetekamm

 

On My Own

 

“On My Own: Rare Books, Music, and Punting”

 

During our time in Oxford we have had many group activities; however we have also been afforded time to explore independently. There are many shops around Oxford that are unique to the area; one such store is a massive bookshop called Blackwell’s. Unlike a chain bookstore, this store had special “rare books” such as a second edition On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. Though books such as this sported prices upwards of five to ten thousand pounds, it was a privilege to hold and appreciate the age and impacts of books with such extensive histories.

Punting-2

One of the best memories I have is of the first weekend we were in Oxford. Taylor Goss and I were able to go to a music festival called Citadel Fest; this festival was headlined by a band called Tame Impala. This group does not tour much in the United States so I jumped at the opportunity to see them. Taylor and I left on Sunday afternoon to get to Gunnersbury Park in London. We had a great time and got home at around one in the morning, but it was definitely worth the lost sleep. One other activity that is acclaimed in Oxford is punting. Punting is an activity where one person stands on the back of a long boat and uses a pole to propel the boat forward and steer; there is also one person in the boat with a paddle who can help with steering. We went punting many times, but the most memorable outing took place during our last week. Three of our punts met up and we held the three boats together making something of a raft. We had three people pushing us forward while we did laps and sang to Taylor’s guitar playing.  The event was definitely one of the top three things we did on the trip. Though I have so many extra events to draw on, the people that I have met and the discussion we have had are what truly make my experience in Oxford memorable.

Noah Smith

 

As part of our class excursions around Oxford’s historic campus, I was fortunate enough to have been able to see the Shelley Memorial at University College. There is a certain radiance surrounding the marble monument; although just a reflection of light upon the white stone, I could not help but think for a brief moment that the light was remnants of Shelley’s poetic genius being memorialized. While he was a Romantic poet, I find a particular quote from Shelley’s “Ozymandias” particularly applicable to several excursions we have made on the trip: “Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! / Nothing beside remains. Round the decay / Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare / The lone and level sands stretch far away.”  Victoria-1

We have visited several ruins while on the trip, including the Roman bath houses (in Bath), St. Augustine’s monastery (in Canterbury), Chedworth Roman villa, and Minster Lovell. Each site had artist renditions of the places in their original glory, yet each was predominately leveled rock. There is peace and humility in knowing that the site on which one is standing was perhaps occupied by saints and kings, but there is also solemnity in knowing that these magnificent buildings fell to ruin, which is why the quote comes to mind. The sites, however, are fun to explore and learn about, so now that they are recognized for their importance, more can be done to preserve them. 

Other sites we visited, however, are far better 

Victoria-2

maintained, and walking through them is a different experience. Our excursions to Blenheim Palace and Christ Church College, in particular, proved to me just how the mindset of people has changed. We desire to maintain the great buildings and explore the history within them with better appreciation for the history within them. The Victorians certainly put stock into “look upon my works” and built the grand palaces and homes we got to see. I hope other

students find as much enjoyment and fulfillment as I did walking through both the newer, well-kept structures and the ruins. Each site has its own history and story, and the greatest part of the program is being able to experiences these places and have our own connections with them in person. 

Victoria Pfeifer

 

Punting and Wandering in Oxford

The funniest thing that I discovered in my time in Oxford was that breakfast never changes, no matter which city you’re in. In any different hotel or restaurant, you can depend on the typical hardy English breakfast. Every morning is: wake up, get dressed, eat beans on toast, and I loved it. But this trip has not been defined for me by those daily routines that we followed (class in the morning, excursions in the afternoon, day trips once a week), but instead by the time spent with friends in this new place, exploring and experiencing things that would never have been available to us outside of Oxford University.Villaume-1

My favorite thing to do during the free afternoons was to go punting. If you are unfamiliar with punting, it’s where a group of about 5-6 students all cram into a skinny, flat boat and one student then uses an extremely long stick to push off the bottom of the river and propel the boat along. It is the worst, most irrational, difficult, and fun way to go about boating that I’ve ever experienced. So, in proper Oxford fashion, on any given afternoon or weekend we would all cram into our little boats and drift along the rivers by St. Hilda’s college, singing and talking for hours at a time.

Every night we had free time to walk around the city. Because fish and chips got old quickly, even though they’re good, we were often either searching for a new restaurant or just wandering, going through streets lined with the grand college buildings and historic sights. Actually living in the history and realizing how old the city is was a surreal experience for me, especially when I discovering the oldest cellar in England is underneath an insurance agency. The modern and historic are intertwined throughout the entire city, making it so there was something interesting to discover around every corner.

Villaume-2

The program itself offered more information about the Victorian period and Classics than I had thought I would learn in my life, being an engineering student, but the most rewarding part of this trip has been the emersion in a city as famous and significant as Oxford, which is something I will keep with me for many years to come.

George Villaume