Most of my terms at Oxford start with dread and foreboding as I look forward to 8 weeks of exams, essays, tutorials, lectures, and Latin.
Lots and lots of Latin.
But there are plenty of spots where you can retreat and forget all about the imperfect tense and genitive cases.
This is essentially a whistle-stop tour of some of my favourite Oxford colleges of which I have also managed to take decent photos in the sunshine. They’re all open to the general public and if you ever find yourself in Oxford, I would really recommend them!
Worcester’s grounds are so large that it has its own lake and ornamental rose garden. Because every college needs a rose garden. Despite its location sandwiched between the train station and bustling St Giles, Worcester is an oasis of countryside peace and quiet and the perfect place for a library break stroll. Also an excellent location to live out all your Jane Austen fantasies as Lady/Lord of the Manor.
‘Why, Mr Darcy, I would love to run away with you but, alas, my essay is in for 9am tomorrow morning and I haven’t even started the reading yet’.
My resounding memory of Magdalen involves a tutorial I had there in my first year. We were waiting outside our tutor’s room and noticed out of the window people in forensic suits in an area cordoned off with police tape and detectives patrolling around.
“Oh my god! What’s going on?” we asked our tutor when we went in. “Has a student died??”
“Oh no, they’re just filming a TV series. They’re always around. You’ll get used to it.”
Fun Fact: Magdalen also has its own deer park, you know, just because.
If you ask any student at Oxford, they will probably tell you about ‘quintessential Oxford moments’, which is a moment when you step back and realise just how lucky you are to live in such a beautiful place. I actually had one today, playing college croquet at Jesus College in one of their gorgeous quads smothered in wisteria. There are much worse places to play croquet.
And before you ask, college croquet is not as snooty as it sounds. It basically involves one person vaguely keen in entering the summer croquet tournament bribing 3 unwilling friends with booze to join the team, all for the sake of eternal glory. Awful croquet ensues in which no one knows whose turn it is, who’s in the lead, or whether they’ll ever get back these 2 hours of their life.
Pro Tip: The Fellows’ Garden in Exeter has THE best view of Radcliffe Square, and not that many visitors know about it, despite it being completely free to visit. It’s the perfect place to lord it over the tourists as they look up at you in despair, wondering how the hell you got there.
St Hilda’s College
Okay, so I might be slightly biased here, only because Hilda’s is my college and therefore, as a result of die-hard college patriotism, the best.
Because Hilda’s is Beyond The Bridge, no one really ventures this far out of the city centre to visit. However, Hilda’s is an absolute hidden gem, not only for its unique views of the ‘dreaming spires’, but also its gorgeous location on the River Cherwell. We also have so many different animals, we may as well set up a petting zoo: two college cats, a Labrador, badgers, deer which have escaped from Magdalen’s deer park, and plenty of ducks who will mercilessly attack you if you eat your dinner on the lawn.
We also seem to be within a Bermuda triangle of danger. The river has a tendency to heavily flood during winter, whilst in my first year a building next door almost completely burned down , threatening to take Hilda’s with it. There were also two murders nearby within the space of a year. As if trying to get a degree wasn’t terrifying enough.
So there you have it, five of my favourite spots in Oxford that include rose gardens, deer parks, and murder. Quintessentially Oxford.