Archive for October, 2008

Pretty Things

There have been a few times that I have gone for long walks through various parts of the city.  It is relaxing to just stroll along the sidewalk at a slow pace, taking in all the sights and sounds.  I won’t write much more, but instead show some photos that I’ve taken along these walks……

 

 

 

Looking at the front door - form the inside- of Jesus College

Looking at the front door - form the inside- of Jesus College

The first quad:

 

The first quod at Jesus.  The clock is over the outside of the meal hall.

The clock is over the outside of the meal hall.

 

The hood over the door to the Principle’s lodgings:

 

One of its kind in Oxford!

One of its kind in Oxford!

 

A cemetery I happened by:

 

 

The original faculty of music, dating from the 17th century:

 

Now part of the Bodleian Library

Now part of the Bodleian Library

My college crest on the wooden gate of the Bodleian:

New friends:

White deer in Madgadalen’s famous deer park:

A path along the deer park:

C.S. Lewis taught at this college.

A hall along one of the quads of Magdalen:

Finally, no series of photos from Oxford would be complete without an image of punters:

 

Please check back soon for more updates.

Matthew

 

 

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It’s all in the context…

My first week at Oxford has been absolutely amazing.  I’ve met some very interesting people who have come from many different places around the globe.  There are people studying all sorts of things in the college – some things that I’ve never even heard of.  It’s pretty common, when eavesdropping on conversations to hear an exchange like: “What do you study?” “I study …….” “Oh, cool.  What is that!?”

I still feel giddy every time I leave my room and see the beautiful buildings around me – I can hardly believe that this is where I live, at least for now.  It all still feels very much like a vacation.  Not because there aren’t things I need to be doing for my course – there are – I’ve already been given a reading list.  But rather because it has not sunk in that I am actually here.  It’s been a dream so long that even as a reality it has a dream-like quality.

In the first week the University held an international student orientation.  This was carried out in what is called the Examination Schools – the name given because it is where all students from all subjects write their final exams (at different times of course!).  The exams here consist of a three hour essay on a topic given to you at the exam (and not before), where you are meant to essentially put in words your understanding of the topic.  If the adjudicators believe you do in fact understand, you pass.  If not, well…. I won’t get into that!

 

The Examination Schools

The Examination Schools

This photo is of the front face of the examination schools.  It is a magnificent building, and quite large as well.  

This comes from inside the exam school.  That is literally just a regular door leading from the main hall into the room where I – and all my fellow students – will be writing an exam.  It is a good example of the sort of opulence Oxford has in just about everything.  This building is designed solely for people to sit and write for three hours a few times a year, and yet immaculate carvings and beautiful paintings adorn each room.

Yet another doorway leading to (or from) one of the exam rooms.

As beautiful as they are, I’m sure this building and the rooms inside will take on an entirely new characteristic when I am entering them not as a fresh faced international student, but a weathered one about to engage in an exam!!  I suppose it is all in the context.

I should also mention that if one were to visit Oxford, they would only see the front of this building as it is closed to visitors.  The same is true of most buildings.  The school seems very protective, some would say secretive, about its buildings and procedures.  Everyday there are hordes of tourists who take walking tours around the city, snapping photos of the facades of buildings.  Perhaps this is a little sick, but I take pleasure in being able to flash my student card and walk past them into the insides!

Matthew

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First Impressions of Oxford

I flew out of Toronto’s Pearson International Airport at around 9:30 the night of September 29.  It was difficult, leaving behind my fiancee, friends and family.  Nonetheless, my little trip got off to a great start.  At the desk of the airline I was asked if I would prefer a window or aisle seat.  I responded window.  As it turns out, that was a good choice – when I got onto the plane I discovered that I was sitting in the aisle that contained the emergency exit and therefore had a great deal of leg room!  This, as you might imagine, was invaluable on a night flight.

The plane arrived at Gatwick airport just outside of London at 9:30 (British time) on the morning of September 30.  Although it took some time to get through the baggage retrieval, immigration officer, and find the bus to take me to Oxford, everything happened without a hitch.

The bus was a direct service from Gatwick to Oxford.  I had forgotten from previous travel how long it takes to get to Oxford from London (longer from Gatwick I suppose).  Britain has a great deal of very beautiful farmland, which I got a small taste of while on the bus.  Our first stop was at a bus station in a suburb of Oxford – nothing special really, it was just off the highway and looked very much like a modern bus station one might find in a suburb such as Brampton.  Very quickly the scenery changed.  

As soon as we began to enter Oxford the architecture became unbelievably beautiful.  Even regular houses built along the road have a certain charm that is difficult to articulate – I don’t think even a photo would really do it justice.

Finally, my stop was called (High Street).  I exited the bus and was confronted by this image:

 

Queen's College

Queen's College

It immediately struck me: I am actually going to Oxford!

It had been a little while since I had been in Oxford and did not have a map.  I dragged my luggage in the direction that seemed to have more people (knowing that my college is in the centre of town) and started to walk without knowing where I was going.

I continued to walk along the Hight Street – a shopping street that is very busy, until I found a small map mounted to a board on the street.  I found the cross streets of Turl and Market (the location of my college) and discovered that it was nearby.  According to the map, I needed to walk down a small alley (pictured), which led me to the Radcliffe Camera (also pictured).

Alley

Radcliffe Camera

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I continued along the side of the camera and bent around it to the left.  I found Brasenose Lane, which, according to the map, turns into Market street – one of the streets alongside my college.  

My next experience is difficult to describe – it was like a dream.  It felt surreal to be walking along an amazing little road on my way to what is going to be my new home!

Brasenose Lane

Brasenose Lane

 

Brasenose Lane

Brasenose Lane

I arrived at the end of the lane and was not sure which way to go.  My view to the left was:

 

Turl Street

Turl Street

And to the right:

 

Jesus College

Jesus College

Jesus College, my new home!!

I entered the front gate of the college and was greeted by the porter.  He gave me a small pile of papers to go through, and a keycard giving me entrance to the various entrance points around the college (all very similar in look to the one you see above).

I had a great deal of questions regarding what my accommodation might be like.  Many people had told me many things and I really was not sure what to expect.  Well, as it turns out, I had nothing to worry about – as a matter of fact, my new residence is one of the nicest places I’ve ever lived!

 

My Room

My Room

Yes, I have a fireplace!

Yes, I have a fireplace!

The view from my room, looking north

The view from my room, looking north

The view from my room looking south

The view from my room looking south

All in all, if my first impressions of Oxford are any indication, I believe that my time spent here is going to be some of the best times of my life!
Matthew

 

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