Saturday, September 8, 2012

Oxford in Spires...

Queens College Courtyard
Kristin and I have come to Oxford, England to attend the Opportunity International Network Global Leadership Conference that is scheduled to take place from September 10-12, 2012. We came a couple of days earlier to catch up with the Mas, the previous blog post, and to tour Oxford, the city of "dream spires."

Oxford is in spires and also inspires.

In England, there are two oldest universities: Oxford and Cambridge. Collectively they are called Oxbridge. University is relatively a new concept to them because in olden days there were only federations of colleges. Colleges are independent legal entities, employing their own staff, owning their own buildings, managing their own endowments and hiring their own staff. The central university only administers and coordinates among colleges.
Schulman Auditorium

Oxford University has 30 colleges and 12 permanent halls. Some are better known than others. In total, Oxford University has approximately 16,000 students, including 5,000 graduate students pursuing higher degrees.

Today, September 8th, Kristin and I had a tour of Oxford, visiting some of the colleges. Fortunately, today happens to be an "Oxford Open Day" that allows tourists to visit some of the college buildings for free. We visited Queens College, New College and Magdalene College.

Inside Queens College
Queens College from High St.
Queens College opened its chapel and auditorium. The alley towards the auditorium was very romantic with two rock-built walls leading to the auditorium. Before entering the auditorium, there was a small courtyard that had a big tree, meticulously maintained grasses and a few benches. It was so cozy and soothing. I felt I could study well in such an environment. The auditorium was built with wooden panels. It was not so big but it appealed to me strongly to make me feel like lecturing to students there.

Students after Final Exam
Trinity College
New College is the newest college of Oxford University, but it celebrated its 600th anniversary recently. So other colleges are 800-900 years old. New College has become famous after Harry Porter's movie filed dining hall scenes at New College's Dining Hall. What appeared in the movie looked a lot bigger and more grand than the reality, but it was still pretty sizable. Its campuses, buildings, meadows and walking trails were all meticulous and romantic.

Sheldonian Theater
New College from Courtyard
Magdalene (pronounced Moh-dlene in old English) College is the home for famous scholars, such as C.S. Lewis and Oscar Wilde. I could not find any external evidence for C.S. Lewis' teaching there. I was told that one of the walking trail rest spots has one of his poems by the bench, but I learned about it after I have come out of the trail. Its courtyards were maintained with excellence. Clean and beautiful. The walls and floors in the corridors have been worn out due to the age, but such worn out parts looked rustic and classic.
New College Dining Hall
New College

We also toured other parts of the city, such as Martyrs Memorial, High Street, Broad Street, The Covered Market, Sheldonian Theater, Trinity College, Examination Schools, Blackwell Bookstore etc.

Sheldonian Theater is where all University official events take place, such as welcoming ceremony to new comers and graduation ceremony. There was a wedding ceremony in the back of the theater.
New College
Magdalene College
Examination Schools building is the most feared building for all students. As a tradition, all students who are taking the final exam must be wearing black suits, white shirts, white bow ties and gowns. Today, there were students who must have taken the final exams. Many students were coming out of the building in such outfits. I am sure they felt relieved from the finished final exam and proud to be part of Oxford tradition at the same time.

Magdalene College
Oxford is a city of "dream spires" and is a city in spires. Indeed it inspires. - Jeffrey

No comments: