On the May 5th, a group of year 9 and 10 gifted and talented students set off on a trip to Merton College, a college part of Oxford University. As the coach left school that morning, there were mixed opinions aboard it; some people expecting an interesting insight into how to get into Oxford, and others thinking it would be a trip to see a boring professor but “it got us out of lessons”.
Either way, the sun was shining, everyone was chatting to their friends, and the atmosphere was a cheerful one.
Upon arriving at Merton College, we were greeted with the pleasing sights of well-kept flower beds, regal trees and manicured lawns. And – even though it will make us sound incredibly Swindonian –this was probably the most surprising thing about Oxford!
Aesthetic gardens, we learned, belong to the Oxford experience. However, the college of Merton is very lucky to have grass you are actually allowed to walk on! (Tolkien is supposed to have found inspiration for “Lord of the Rings” while sitting under a tree in Merton)
After this we were led into a small room, where we were given a little bit of an insight into higher education, students’ day-to-day lives and a bit more about what is special about Oxford.
I think I should just quickly explain the term “Oxford University” as it was one of the first things we asked about and it can be a little confusing. Oxford is just the same as other universities, except that it isn’t all in one big building, but lots of “Colleges” around town (38 altogether). This means that there is student accommodation in each college and you get a great community feeling.
The talk was interesting at points, I especially liked talking to the current students studying at Oxford.
But after this we got to have tour of the grounds of Merton College, asking questions, looking around, and just getting the feel for the place. Did you know that you can play Quidditch in Oxford?
Finally, we walked across town through the astoundingly still shining sun, to the natural history museum. And even if that wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, it was a great way to round off such a memorable trip.
Even if we didn’t find out that much about the specifics of each course or exactly how to get into a top university (other than a few vague instructions like “the people at Oxford get in because they are inquisitive thinkers – ask yourselves why”) I think the trip was a success.
We discovered a lot about what is available to do in Oxford if you do go there – LOTS of clubs for every interest – and overall had an amazing impression of the town, not just the University.
It would be wonderful to have more opportunities like this one, like attending a lecture or visiting another University, to widen our perception of higher education.
By Anna F 9XCH