Independent Schools Cultural Alliance - ISCA – Summer Programs in the UK

Day Seventeen – Oxford

Today the dreaming spires of Oxford, those beautiful college towers and cathedral steeples and chapel tops, beckoned us into their beautiful university city on a glorious sun-scorched day!  

We arrived early, full of anticipation and energy, our eager minds finely alert for new adventure and intrigue, and above all academic exploration…and we were not to be disappointed! 

We all started off with a walking tour in our school groups, visiting some of Oxford’s most important University buildings, like the Bodleian Library with its 12 million books, and the Sheldonian Theatre, where degrees and doctorates are awarded to undergraduates and postgraduates, with great ceremony, after hours and long nights of determined study no doubt! Looking too at the beautiful Radcliffe Camera, where many famous scientists have buried themselves away in ground-breaking research to emerge later as heroes, revered for their theories for centuries to come, we all dreamed big as we marvelled at this iconic building!  

We also heard the story of the last remaining Dodo, now hidden safely away inside the University Natural History museum, which had been rescued like a phoenix from the flames of the burning Ashmolean Museum in the mid 1700s .  

Then we set off to tour around inside one of 4 University Colleges – some of us went to Magdalen College others to New, yet more to Merton College or next door to Corpus Christi – in each College we saw their beautiful quads (quadrangles) each overlooked by the students’ ‘digs’ – rooms, amazing gardens, ancient chapels and other special features unique to each, such as scientific sundials or other features that have been in the Harry Potter films. For one short hour there, we all lived the life of Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Boris Johnson, our new British Prime Minister, C.S Lewis, J.R.Tolkein and many other famous alumni – old Oxonians all!  For certain, some of our brilliant ISCA students here will be joining these illustrious ranks soon…mark my word!  Scaling such dizzy academic heights is well within their grasp!

By now, we were ready for one of our special free lunch days, whereby we could satisfy our special culinary instincts and delights in the numerous choices available.  Some ate amazing home-made pies in the special Covered Market, an indoor arcade full of specialist art, craft, gift and food stalls – I think gelati ice cream and home-made chocolate chunk cookies were high on peoples’ dessert list judging by the queues!

Others ventured down to the river to watch the punting boats or to glimpse the Botanical gardens, whilst others strolled along the playing fields where many an Olympian sportsman first learnt his trade and craft! 

Then it was back on the bus to Cranleigh and homeward-bound for yet another tempting and delicious Cranleigh dinner and some more energetic netball, volleyball and soccer! And so ended another fine day on ISCA with a spring in the step and a smile on the faces of the many chatty students I passed by, on their way to house meetings. They are all getting along so well now….it may be hard for them to leave!