During my program, my study abroad class visited Oxford University, a beautiful campus with lots of history. It is something you see in a movie or a storybook! Before actually seeing the physical place, I could almost believe it was a fictional place only used in movies and in books. There is a certain academic and literary ambiance to the atmosphere that is so picturesque. It is exactly how you imagine it and looks the same as all the pictures on the internet.
Oxford University is not just home to a few thousand students, it is also home to a few movie sets and book settings. It was where both J.R.R Tolkein, author of The Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit, as well as C.S Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia studied and then eventually taught. I had the opportunity to study the first book in Lewis’s series, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, so it was cool to see so much art inspired by Lewis scattered across a few places on campus.
Another author who studied and taught at Oxford University is Philip Pullman, the author of the His Dark Materials books. It is a children’s fantasy series that I also studied while abroad. We only read the first book, The Golden Compass, but the beginning scenes take place at Oxford University with the main character, Lyra, as she explores the fictional Jordan College. The movie of the same name as the book also films around the campus, as does the tv series His Dark Material.
On our visit to Oxford University, the day started out with a train ride from London to Oxford. From Oxford Station, as a class, we walked to the university through the college town that boasted the university from its stores and businesses. We had the opportunity to have a personal literary tour of Oxford and one of their colleges, New College. Throughout the tour, we were directed to and shown some material that we may recognize from the books we were studying on the program. One of the things we saw was from C.S Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. It was an ornate door that had two golden fawns looking down on you. Another C.S Lewis-related place we got to visit was where he worked while he taught at Oxford University. One last place we got to see was one of the university’s dining halls, which are said to be the inspiration for the dining hall in the Harry Potter movies.
After the literary tour, we had a small break to grab lunch and walk around for a little bit. I beelined for the nearest gift shop. I wanted to buy a sweatshirt and a few knick-knacks to let everyone know I visited Oxford University! After lunch, we headed to Christ Church for an audio tour. Christ Church is one of the colleges at Oxford, and it is also a cathedral. Additionally, some scenes of Harry Potter were filmed at the college.
Oxford University was an incredible place to explore. The architecture and the buildings were beautiful and as you walked through the city streets, you felt like you were walking through history. And you really are! The university is said to be over one thousand years old and claims to be the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Oxford was never a place I had imagined visiting, but I am glad I had the opportunity and would definitely consider going back to see it again.