Spotlight on Our Students: Tea Time in Oxford

Katie, center, making her escape at the Harry Potter Film Studios. 

We’d like to introduce Katie, a University Scholar traveling to Oxford, UK this summer with our summer study abroad program. She’s going to be sharing stories about her time there each week, so be sure to check in here to learn about what she’s been up to.

Ruins in the Port Meadow.

This week we arrived at Oxford on Sunday and went on a walking tour of Oxford.This tour included famous sites in Oxford like the Eagle and Child where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis met regularly and some Harry Potter movie locations! Monday we had our first day of classes and went punting during the afternoon. My friend actually dropped our paddle and pole into the water which made trying to get back to the dock very challenging but also hilarious. On Wednesday we took a three mile scenic walk to the Trout Inn and had an amazing dinner! It’s an Oxford Scholars tradition and worth every step. Thursday we had a free afternoon so some friends and I went to a coffee shop to work on homework and eat pastries. I’m not gonna lie, we mainly went to eat pastries and boy were they delicious. On Friday we went out to dinner as a big group and had some amazing falafels. Saturday was Alice Day in Oxford and we walked around the city completing a Cheshire Cat scavenger hunt! We got to explore a whole other side of the city that I didn’t even know existed!

Out and about in Oxford.

We have decided to cook several nights a week for dinner and it has been such a challenge figuring out how to make yummy recipes without an oven or stove! At one point we even cooked spaghetti with a metal tin and two kettles, which was surprisingly tasty. We are moving towards less dangerous but equally delicious recipes.
The highlight of the week was bonding with friends during the Cheshire Cat scavenger hunt. We raced around the city and had to work together to complete the challenge. The quality time we spent together was really special and I became friends with some people I had never even talked to before! I can’t wait to continue going on crazy adventures with them. Stay tuned for what happens next week!

Plague Tour in London.

On Sunday the Honors Outbreak class went to London for a tour of the famous plague sites in the city! It was so much fun and we learned a lot about how the Black Death decimated London. We even had a surprise visit from a Plague Doctor! On Monday we went to the Harry Potter Film Studios and it was the best day of the entire trip and possibly of my life. We got to see the Great Hall, all of the famous Harry Potter costumes, the Hogwarts model, and Diagon Alley! We even got to tour 4 Privet Drive! On Tuesday we had a free afternoon so I went to a cafe with some other students and worked on our projects for class and played board games. On Wednesday we went to the Roman Baths which were AMAZING! We toured the baths and learned about Roman architecture and basic life during that time period. I purchased Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Latin from the book store and it’s now my most prized possession. On Thursday we had another free afternoon filled with schoolwork and on Friday we went to London for the weekend. On Friday night we took a ride on the London Eye and got to see the most beautiful views of London! Afterwards I went to a pub with some friends and we explored the city for a few hours. On Saturday we went to Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the Churchill War Rooms, and the Tower of London! We got to see the Crown Jewels, the old Royal Mint, and where Prince William and Kate Middleton got married! Then we had an amazing dinner at a local Italian restaurant as a group and ate some yummy pasta. On Sunday we toured the Globe Theater, the Tate Modern Art Museum, and Tower Bridge! There were so many interesting pieces of art and we got to see how Shakespearean plays were put together. We got to go all the way up the Tower Bridge and watch as it opened for large ships! It was an unforgettable weekend with my newly made best friends.

Walk across Tower Bridge.

The biggest challenge this week was feeling tired all the time. We were so excited and wanted to see everything in London so we hardly slept! I was fueled for most of the week on coffee and adrenaline and the small naps on public transportation. When we got back to Oxford I took a six hour nap to recover! It was important for me to remind myself that I need to take care of both my body and my mind. Sleep is the love of my life and I’ve learned not to neglect it!

The highlight of my week was going to the Harry Potter Film Studios. I’ve been reading the books and watching the movies for as long as I could remember. It was such an amazing experience to see all the props and actually stand where the most famous scenes were filmed. It was very interactive so you felt like you were a Hogwarts student yourself! I ran my cart into Platform 9 3/4, rode a broomstick, drove an enchanted car, and took a ride on the Knight Bus! Ten points to Gryffindor!

Touring Stonehenge.

This week was amazing! On Monday after classes we went to Stonehenge and went to the Stonehenge museum. I won’t spoil anything but it looks like my alien conspiracy theories about Stonehenge aren’t exactly backed up by historians. On Tuesday we went to Blenheim Palace and explored the grounds. It was the most beautiful palace I’ve ever been to and we even discovered a hidden waterfall! On Wednesday we had a free afternoon so my friends and I went to the Covered Street Market and did a bit of shopping! Our free weekend started on Thursday afternoon and so my friend and I raced to Dublin immediately after classes. We stayed in the most adorable Airbnb and ate at the most amazing pubs. We toured the Guinness Storehouse which was basically a giant museum and we got to pour our own pints! Then we toured Kilmainham Goal and learned about the importance it played in Irish independence. We also got to see the Book of Kells which an unforgettable experience! I highly recommend going to see it. The best part of the entire trip was definitely the amazing food and Guinness! We had lots of fun but coming back to Oxford felt like coming home after a long vacation even though we were gone for just three days. It only took three weeks but we’ve all grown so attached to Somerville. I never want to leave!

The biggest challenge this week was traveling on our own to a different country. We didn’t plan very well so the rush to the airport was

Getting ready to travel solo.

incredibly stressful. However, my friends and I worked together and made it to our flight with plenty of time to spare. I’m so thankful that they were able to keep me calm and laughing during this stressful time!

My favorite part of this week was going to Stonehenge with my friends. We took some of the cutest pictures and had an amazing time walking around some of the most gorgeous scenery in the world! We also had a 2000’s throwback singalong on the bus ride back to Oxford which was a perfect end to our day trip.





Garden party!

This week was incredibly bittersweet as it was our last week in Oxford. After classes everyday, my friends and I went to a cafe or sat outside to study for our final exams and projects. On Tuesday afternoon we went as a group to St. Mary’s church which was gorgeous and full of so much history! On Wednesday we had our last day of classes and so I spent all afternoon studying. On Thursday my friends and I had a giant study party outside for most of the day until the Oxford Garden Party. It was a giant celebration outside with tea, cakes, and champagne. We played croquet with our professors and took the afternoon off to savor what little time left we had at Somerville. On Friday we had final exams and a formal banquet with our professors. The food was amazing and it was a great opportunity to say goodbye to all of the wonderful people I met on this trip. Afterwards, we went to a pub and reminisced on all of our adventures for the last four weeks. On Saturday morning we said our final goodbyes to each other and departed for home. I can’t even begin to describe how happy I am that I decided to study abroad in Oxford with the Scholars Program. I came into this worrying that I wouldn’t make friends or have fun but in the end, I made several lifelong friends and had the time of my life. I will never forget the memories I made during this summer session and I’m so happy that I took a leap of faith and decided to sign up for this trip. Somerville will forever be my home away from home in Oxford.

Finals were very challenging this week. I was freaking out because I wanted to do well in my courses but at the same time, I also wanted to have fun and enjoy my last few days in Oxford. In the end, I compromised by studying with friends outside so that we could soak up the Somerville atmosphere while also being productive.
My favorite part of this week was the Garden Party. I loved having a break from studying to hang out with my friends and playing

Final Farewell.

croquet! I’m basically a professional now even though I lost the game. I loved chatting with everyone for hours and reliving some of the memories we made on this trip. Plus the food was amazing!

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