My experience of Oxford is best summed up by my friend Johannes’ catchphrase (uttered with a sigh of contentment and A-Ok finger sign): “Ah, happy days!”
Arriving in Oxford, my expectations were ‘lofty’ at best, ‘borderline delusional’ at worst (my preparation involved watching Brideshead Revisited, Harry Potter and every collegiate movie/series I could get my hands on). And yet, appraising this place 10 months later, I feel somewhat vindicated. For me, the romance of Oxford has been real.
In less than a fortnight I will leave this beautiful place for good. I will desperately miss:
Having a tribe drawn from all over the world (Germany, Sweden, Canada, the US, France, South Africa, Hong Kong, the UK…), feeling like Anne Shirley forever waxing lyrical about kindred spirits and bosom friends.
Being part of a boat club with a 156 year history, watching the sun rise on the Isis (almost always worth braving the dark and cold for), the carnivalesque atmosphere of the Torpids and Summer VIIIs ‘bumps racing’ regattas.
Endless sandstone and beautiful buildings
Passing under the Bridge of Sighs each day, the afternoon sun catching on the Rad Cam, gazing out over the city from the Varsity rooftop terrace and Magdalen tower.
Spending time in the colleges
Enjoying the secluded gardens, grand halls and cozy MCRs. The endless stream of garden parties, exchange dinners, and wine and cheese events. Calling Magdalen home, as alumni like Oscar Wilde and CS Lewis would have done.
Post-prandial MCR hang-outs
Lunching at the OKB terrace or on the New Building lawns, then retreating to our Central Perk/70s Show basement of an MCR (for the coffee machine, bottomless biscuit jar and to
waste while away hours).
Formal halls, banquets and balls
Gussying up for an evening of multiple courses, obligatory port and second desserts in a beautiful setting. The extravagance of the May and June balls.
Witnessing autumn slide into bitterly cold winter, the unfurling of snowdrops and cherry blossoms, the brief window of Magdalen fritillaria, then the explosion of spring verdancy and flowers. Trinity term heralding the start of punting, croquet and Pimm’s.
Never being short of something to do: concerts at the Sheldonian, talks and seminars, improv comedy at the Wheatsheaf.
Challenging tutorials, interesting course material, being pushed by brilliant professors and peers.
Being bemused and amused by subfusc, matriculation, exam carnations and trashing, May morning, and the ‘Oxford way’ of doing things.
Revelling in the rich history of this beautiful institution, and having my own place in it.