The Oxford Conundrum

By Morgan Halane

I recently decided to take a quick trip to Oxford with a friend.  Having visited Harvard as a high school student, I thought that a jaunt to one of England’s most prestigious schools would be well worth the trouble.  I was correct.  In fact, I was somewhat relieved that I didn’t apply to study abroad at Oxford because of the stunning beauty of each of the different colleges which compose the university.  This sounds strange, but it’s a conundrum I may well have faced had I studied at Oxford for a semester.  I honestly don’t know how much work I would’ve accomplished on any given day because the temptation to just wander around and explore would just be overwhelming.  Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, and I could sense the history walking through its old corridors and libraries.  Nearly everything at Oxford seemed photo-worthy, and I had to remind myself to not take photos every time I turned a corner.

Standing outside of Christ Church College

One of the first stops we made at Oxford was the botanical garden.  The garden was, of course, stunningly beautiful, and we had the opportunity to explore not only the gardens themselves but also several greenhouses.  My favorite greenhouse was the carnivorous plant greenhouse, which was filled with Venus Flytraps and pitcher plants.  Our next stop was one of the constituent colleges of Oxford, Magdalen.  This particular college was stunning.  I had to remind myself that it was actually a functioning college and not some roped-off world heritage site.  At one point I noticed a sign on one of the old wooden doors in one of the cloisters reading ‘computer room,’ something which seemed very out of place.

Cloisters at Magdalen College

Before leaving Oxford we visited Merton College, famously tied to J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as the Bodleian Library, where we saw a piece of Tolkien’s original artwork for his novel The Hobbit.  We also visited the Museum of the History of Science, where saw a signed first edition copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and a blackboard with Albert Einstein’s writing still preserved on it, definitely a highlight of a trip filled with highlights.

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