June 2, 2016
At 9 am we hit the road! Stratford-upon-Avon is a two hour drive outside of London. On the way, we stopped at Oxford. Oxford is a magical little town, and not just because of its connections to Harry Potter. We had a wonderful blue badge tour guide show us around the town and the university. I learned a great deal of interesting things on the tour. Here are some fun facts:
1. The town of Oxford was never bombed during WWII. It would have been a prime candidate because it was, and still is, home to an automobile factory that was manufacturing parts for airplanes during wartime. However, Hitler wanted to use Oxford as his administrative headquarters after the war and did not want to risk damaging the town in attempts to destroy the factory.
2. Oxford University has 38 colleges, and thus 38 small campuses. Each piece of property houses a chapel, dining hall, garden, and student rooms.
3. Since the Brits do not have sororities and fraternities, which college you attend is the thing that tells something about your personality and status.
4. Colleges writhing the University are not like colleges within the universities in the US. At Oxford, you can study almost any subject in almost any college.
5. There are 22,000 students at the University, 12,000 of which are undergraduates. 10% of the undergraduates are American.
6. As an undergrad, you apply to a specific college and may be interviewed by that college, and possibly another. It is extremely competitive, so you might not get into your first choice school. This year, 19,500 students applied for only 3,500 open undergraduate spots.
7. Tuition is a little pricey… For American students, tuition is £22,000, which equates too about $33,000 a year. Room and board is an additional £8,000 ($12,000). But the nice thing is, you never have to share a room.
8. Oxford is the oldest University in London. We don’t know for sure what date it was established, but Cambridge (the second oldest) was founded in 1209, so it has to be some time before then.
I have two grand highlights for the day as well!
A. Harry. Potter.
We were fortunate enough to be able to tour the dining hall, chapel and cloisters of New College. The dining hall served as a green room for the cast of Harry Potter while they were filming.
Above is a picture of the very tree under which Malfoy was turned into a ferret by Mad-Eye Moody in The Goblet of Fire (my personal favorite book/movie of the series). (Please see Facebook for pictures as WordPress is currently uncooperative.) The dining hall at Christ Church College served as the inspiration for the Hogwarts dining hall. Due to scheduling of filming and the school term, it had to be recreated in the movie studio.
B. Eagle and Child Pub
This is the pub where authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien often met with their students to discuss literature and politics. They affectionately referred to the pub as The Bird and Baby.
After our tour we had a little free time for lunche and souvenir shopping. I bought myself an Oxford sweatshirt. And if anyone asks, I can indeed say that I went to Oxford for school. Because this is after all a school trip.
Another hours drive and we arrived at Stratford. Our guest house is so cute!!! We all sat around for a while chatting and trying to get the wifi to work. We couldn’t. So I am writing this post from my phone. For that reason, I apologize for any discrepancies in the format.
Tonight we will be seeing Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare company. The title character will be played by a black man, the first ever to play Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare company. I love this text and am expecting a knock out show!