A Rainy Spring Break in Oxford (and London)

I had 5 days for Spring Break, meaning I had to make the most of my time. I had already booked plane tickets in advance, knowing I wanted to see my dear friend Eillen studying Biochemistry at Oxford (I missed my little bean!). And while my research into the town was minimal, my excitement was as grand as you can imagine. I was ready to take the english weather, yummy tea, and simplicity. And I had this perception of Oxford as relaxed and classy and boy was I satisfied.

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FRIDAY

I woke up at 4am to catch my 6am train to my 8am plane right to Oxford. It was spent mostly with me sleeping so it was easily a breeze. I’m very thankful for my unique ability to sleep on transportation as it keeps the headaches and anxiety away.

I arrived at Gloucester Bus station at around 1pm where I was greeted to a beautiful smile by Eillen waiting to take me to her dorm. Along the way, we grabbed groceries at Tesco so we could make the bulk of our food at home. I ended up teaching her (kind of) to make pasta arrabiata and she showed me her banana nut bread! And after dropping my stuff in her dorm room and settling in for a bit where we planned the next few days in more detail and bought our ticket to London. We then walked around the city center, tried fudge samples, passed by charity shops and tons of old buildings. We also went for a walk by the Cathedral of Jesus Christ, down the river and came back for Evensong in the evening.

Afterwards, Eillen knew about this really cool open mic night event called Paris Lit Up during which people told poems, stories and aphorisms like “getting lost and losing your way are two different things: one is admitting defeat and the other is an opportunity.” We also munched on some really good chips with ketchup. Afterwards we were hungry and tired so we made pasta alla italiana and banana nut bread for brekkie the following day.

First impressions: super cute town, reminiscent of Ghent, and if I had the opportunity to choose I would study in Oxford.

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SATURDAY

I woke up early to have a yummy breakfast of banana bread, fruit and soy milk. Then, because Eillen stayed up really late the previous night due to class work, I went to Gloucester Market and was pleasantly reminded of Baltimore’s Lexington Market. There were all kinds of food shops, places to get fresh fruits and veggies, and other local apparel and goods.

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Then, because it was still so early in the day I headed to the Modern Art Oxford Museum to check out an exhibition on Cinthia Marcelle which was about demands for ancestral education in Brazil (coincidentally what I’m doing research on next winter in Brazil) so it was very illuminating.

When Eillen woke up, we went on a walking tour of Oxford universities and saw the naked man statue, and other locations that were said to inspire the books Narnia, Alice in Wonderland and the Harry Potter series. Later we headed to the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin and climbed the tower, where, after climbing tons of stairs and crossing narrow passageways, we got the most magnificent view of the city.

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Our view from the tower

Our last stop was The Last Bookshop in Jericho before heading home for some dinner, Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, and sleep.

SUNDAY

After having our luxurious array of breakfast items and dressing up all nice and Easter-like, we attended Easter mass at the Oratory where Eillen frequents. It was a beautiful experience that really pushed me to think and reflect on my spiritual life. I walked around the church and marveled at the frescos, chapels, and ornaments which reminded my of my religion class which I talk a little but about here.

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And because the day was so nice, the flowers were blooming and we looked so good, we headed to Summerville College for a little photoshoot (might I notion to the main photo of this article). It was immensely green and spacious, with an array of flowers and brightness to cover it all.

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Afterwards, we went back to the dorm to change into something warmer as it started to get chillier and then went to Vaults and Gardens for scones (who made it better?).

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The rest of our afternoon was spent scouring the city’s museums like the Museum of Natural History and the Ashmolean Museum which featured art from all periods in England’s history. Interspersed in there was our quick picnic at Gloucester Square after not being able to find a suitable bench or park to sit at.

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Me marveling at art- peek my mini bun

That night, because Eillen was set on getting me to a pub for some chilling and reading, we went to Eagle and Child for French fries and some quiet time reading our books — she was reading Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun and I was reading Poe’s Fall of the House of Usher and other tales (in Italian). The night wound down with us (mostly me) devouring some vegan flan we found at Tesco and watching Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. I’ve become really enamored with Miyazaki’s work because of his revolutionary use of silence and incorporation of social themes in his works. We spent time talking about this and marveling in his creativity.

MONDAY = London Getaway!

An article on this little adventure coming soon.

TUESDAY

This morning I woke up bright and early to try and tackle a few last-minute sight-seeing adventures, namely the Radcliffe Camera (Rad Cam) which is this really cool library in Oxford. It was closed to visitors but because I had my friend’s student ID I made my way to the top floor with the most amazing view and proceeded to read the book I’d brought with me. I also stopped by Westgate which was this really cool shopping center with a wide view of Oxford and some odd sculptures.

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And to send me off, Eillen and I had some “high tea” at this neat little place called The Rose — really she had high tea with Black Chai, scones, and an assortment of sandwiches and cakes, and I got a veggie burger with chips, a scone with strawberry jam, and their specialty Rose Tea. We felt super fancy. We then waddled to the bus station and I was on my way home, wishing I could stay for longer but knowing in my heart I would be back. I’ll see you soon Oxford.

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