Matthew Arnold, the famous poet, attended Balliol College in Oxford. It was he who coined the term "city of dreaming spires" about Oxford. There is great shopping in Oxford, from on-trend boutiques to department stores. There is good food, great theatre and wonderful parks. Indeed, there is nothing nicer than an early morning run through Kings Meadows, at the back of Oriel College where we locate students for springtime courses just before the May IB exams.
Oxford is also home to the Oxford Castle, a variety of theatres, Carfax Tower & miles of beautiful canals.
It also hosts some fantastic museums, including the Ashmolean museum (the world's first university museum and the oldest public museum in Britain) and the Pitt Rivers, an amazing archaeological and anthropological museum that is full of all sorts of ethnographic stuff including a good collection of shrunken heads from the upper Amazon.
One of the most enjoyable activities that the OSC Deans organize for our students in the summer is punting on the Thames, something that can only be done in Oxford. There is a special art to moving a boat along a muddy river with only a long pole. It is easy to spot the locals and university types because they tool along at the speed of a motorboat, handling the pole with great dexterity and never falling in, like some of the tourists. Living in Oxford in one of the colleges, if only for a week or two, is definitely an unforgettable experience.
Oriel College is the 5th oldest college in Oxford, founded in 1326 by King Edward II, though the first undergraduates did not arrive until the early 1500s. In the first part of the 17th century, some of the medieval buildings were replaced by the elegant Front Quadrangle.
The centre of the main courtyard used to be one of Henry VIII tennis courts, with some parts of the original walls still visible on the outside. You may even have a class in the Harris Lecture theatre, which is where he would have been playing!
Queen's was founded by a chaplain of Queen Philippa's in 1341 to cater to poor students and to favour those from the north of England, mainly Cumberland, Westmorland and later Yorkshire.
Early in the 18th century, the college was entirely rebuilt in the Baroque style and The Front Quad because "the grandest piece of classical architecture in Oxford." It now has a solid academic reputation and still tries to cater to students from across the academic and social spectrum.
St Antony's College
St Antony's College is for people who have already spent 3 or 4 years at university. It specializes in international relations, history and politics, claiming to be "the most cosmopolitan of the 7 graduate schools" in Oxford. It caters to some 400 students with a lovely mixture of old and new architecture.
"St Ants" is a safe and secure enclosed campus with a very relaxed atmosphere, where students can lie on the grass and read a book.
St Anne's College
St Anne's is a fairly new college in Oxford terms: founded in 1872 to educate women, it became a full Oxford college in 1952 and, never fear, went co-educational in 1979. St Anne's is definitely an open and inclusive college that is noted for its relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Also, in a recent competition amongst Oxford Colleges, the highly coveted award for "Chef of the Year" went to St Anne's Head Chef and the Kitchen Team was selected as "Kitchen of the Year". So, the food at St Anne's is very good!
Hertford is situated opposite the Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera – two of the university's most renowned and admired buildings.
The Bridge of Sighs links up the two sections of the college – modelled on the famous Ponte dei Sospiri in Venice, it has become one of Oxford's most photographed sights.
Founded in 1282 as Hart Hall, the college became part of the university in 1874 and was one of the first all-male colleges to go co-educational in 1974.
Founded in 1517, Corpus Christi is Oxford’s 12th oldest College. The college's historical significance includes its role in the translation of the King James Bible
In the centre of the Front Quad is a pelican sundial, which can calculate time by the sun and the moon, though since it's set to Oxford Time it's always 5 minutes off.
Bishop Richard Fox went blind before the building of the College was completed. Supposedly, students walked him around the small front quad 2 or 3 times to make it seem bigger than it actually was.