Today is the second to last day of our stay England and I am certainly feeling sad about the matter. I’ve learned so much during my time in Birmingham, visiting Birmingham City University, the nearby museums, and meeting so many new faces. While I wish I had more time to expand the knowledge I’ve gained, I do appreciate and am thankful for all we’ve done on this trip. Before we head to London for our final day, we I visited Oxford and its historic university and famous Blenheim Palace.
Oxford reminded me of a typical college town, but Oxford University is certainly a special place. You could sense it the moment we set foot on the campus. The areas surrounding the university are developed and quite tourist friendly. There are small clothing shops, restaurants, and outdoor seating areas for pedestrians to enjoy the scenery and weather. I also discovered that the residents of Oxford refer to places with the word “the” before it. For example, while on Broad Street we were told locals refer to it as “The Broad Street”.
On the tour of Oxford University, I was humbled by how little I knew about the institution. I learned that it was established in the late 1000’s. It is the oldest English-speaking university, and second oldest school in the world. To become a part of Oxford University, applicants must be accepted into one of its 39 colleges. While inside the university the architecture was a combination of various medieval styles, however the gothic style was used the most. On the university’s coat of arms are the words “dominus illuminato mea.” These Latin words are the university’s motto and means “the Lord is my light.” The university is involved in Oxfam International, a charitable group which provides clothing and other range of other resources to families living in poverty. Oxford’s Shrine of St. Frideswide serves as a reminder of the university’s religious foundation. Students and faculty come here to find time, space, and reflect. The tour guide explained the location as a spot to “get away from the busy world and speak to God.”
One of the most interesting pieces of information I learned was the large number of movies and TV shows that have been filmed on campus. My favorite part was being able to walk through the famous dining hall featured in each of the Harry Potter films. I was also pleased to learn that the vice chancellor of Oxford, Louise Richardson, is a woman. This was surprising to me because the university has a rich history of male leaders. To know that a woman holds such a prestigious, historic, and honored position at Oxford was inspirational.
I wasn’t sure what to expect on the palace tour. However, upon arrival we saw that it was enormous, and I immediately understood why these properties attract so much attention. The castle was massive and beautifully designed. The history behind the home was also very interesting. I didn’t know Winston Churchill had so much influence and connection to the estate. My favorite aspect about the palace was the beautiful backyard garden and its magnificent view of the river.
Throughout this trip, I have not only learned more about a culture and society different from mine, but also grown as an individual. Thanks to the various environments I have been in and the professionals I have met, the importance of healthcare and education have become even more apparent. Prior to this opportunity, I never related the two systems. However, while both provide different services, I see now that they share the common goal of enabling every individual to live their life to the fullest in a healthy, supportive environment for body and mind.
Well, that’s all for today, cheers!