By the third week of the Summer School, you feel like you are really starting to settle into what feels like a home away from home. You become comfortable with the routine of each day, you’ve formed friendships with the people around you and love hanging out with them, you’re starting to get familiar with the town and know the quickest route to the best food. And then you realise that at the end of the week it will be all over and everyone will be going back to his or her homes in very different parts of the world.
You’re left with a very strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place like Oxford, like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again. This week has been one of those weeks.
I’m currently sitting at the airport waiting to board my flight and I’ve been reflecting on this past week and just how amazing it was. The third week of this program was certainly my favourite, trying to make the most of every moment knowing that the experience would be coming to an end far too soon.
The week started with the completing and submitting of my final essays for the two seminars I had been studying. I got the results for both of these later in the week and I’m very proud of my academic accomplishments at Oxford! Not only have I learnt so much about history, politics and society in just three weeks, but I proved to myself that I can write a pretty decent essay by Oxford’s standards.
The real excitement began on Wednesday night after everyone had officially submitted their essays and we could all go out and have some fun! Early that evening after our usual dinner at the Exeter Dining Hall, a group of us headed out to the University Park to wander around and enjoy the views. The light was amazing and it was so lovely to have an opportunity to just chat with everyone now that we were all relaxed. From there we got some drinks at The Varsity Club, a rooftop bar in Oxford which has amazing views of the Oxford spires across the city.
On Thursday afternoon, a group of us went punting. Probably the most Oxford activity of all things you can do in Oxford. And no, I don’t mean betting on horse races. Punting is a type of boating; it’s a flat-bottomed boat that’s designed for small rivers and shallow waters and you use a long pole to push the boat along the water. It’s completely different from anything I have tried before, but I’d like to think we were pretty good at it for first-timers! Once you get the hang of it, it’s a super relaxing experience. Until then, it’s just hilarious!
Later that night we were treated to another hilarious night of karaoke in the Undercroft Bar along with some liquid courage from the signature Exeter College shots, raspberry liqueur (I think? It was red…) with black vodka and they were pretty great! Thanks Lulu! The fun continued with drinks at a bar called Freud, which is an old church that was turned into a bar back in 1988 with the longest cocktail list you’ve ever seen! To finish of the night, we all went dancing at Wahoo and had an awesome time. Oh wait… the night actually finished with a 2am feast from Hassan’s, a food truck with the best lamb kebabs and chips in Oxford. You’ve got to love Oxford and its food trucks!
Waking up on Friday morning(ish) was kind of sad. Not only was it pouring with rain, but it was also our last full day at Exeter College. The highlight of Friday was the formal closing dinner. Everyone looked amazing and it was so nice to spend quality time with all of the new friends I had made over the three weeks. Over the two-hour dinner, we had some great conversations and I had one of those moments where you think back to that same place three weeks ago when everyone was just introducing themselves and where they are from. Now, you are sitting amongst a group of people who you not only know fairly well, but are going to find really hard to say goodbye too. The rest of Friday night was filled with jugs of Pimm’s in the Undercroft Bar and taking plenty of photos!
Saturday morning was bitter sweet as we had our last breakfast together in the Exeter College Dining Hall. Not only am I going to miss the people (like I keep saying over and over), but those Exeter breakfast’s were amazing and I’m certainly going to miss waking up to a spread of muesli, yoghurt, berries, pastries, cereal, toast, juice, and tea every morning. After breakfast were the inevitable goodbyes and last minute photos of our home for the past few weeks.
Just as difficult as it was to say goodbye to everyone, I find it difficult knowing how to end this post, because I really don’t want the experience to be over. So I thought I’d sum it all up with the reflective Facebook post I wrote on the day I left:
‘Five years ago we read a poem by W.H. Auden in my high school English class that mentioned Oxford and I remember sitting in class researching the university and thinking how amazing it would be to study there one day. Today, I’m leaving Oxford University having studied here for the last three weeks and I have had the most incredible experience. I’ve met so many wonderful people, and learnt more than I could have hoped for. Exeter College is amazing and I honestly can’t believe I’ve been able to experience even a little bit of what Oxford University has to offer. Can I please just stay a little longer?’
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my Oxford experience! If you’re thinking about studying abroad at Oxford, or any university, I assure you that it will be an experience you treasure for a lifetime.
All photos by me, unless otherwise credited.
This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own.