I would be lying if I didn’t say I wanted to visit Oxford University for Harry Potter. Duh, I knew about Oxford before Harry Potter, but did I really care to visit before I knew the great hall was modeled after their dining hall? No. Actually, I can’t remember whether I wanted to visit Oxford or not. All I know is that Oxford=Harry Potter.
But in actuality, Oxford is so much more. Our first trip there was our foray out of London. The clean, open air was so welcome. Also, it doesn’t hurt that its swarming with university students and their picturesque halls and bookbags and coats. Okay, so that’s all aesthetic, but come on. My favorite film at the time (and maybe now) was An Education and I felt like I was Carey Mulligan.
We first hit up Christchurch College–the one where HP was filmed. Of course, this is the summer of 2010, so we were taking a “Harry Potter tour of England” basically.
Get ready for 16-year-old me thinking she was super cool in a sweater dress, hot pink wayfarers and a beanie. Honestly, can you guess the temperature by looking at my outfit? I can’t either. Why did I insist on wearing all of the trends in one go? Nobody knows.
And here’s my mother blinking! Oops sorry Mum.
Here’s the famous Great Hall! It was digitally expanded in the film. But the bare bones are taken from this dining hall.
Upon first visit, I definitely liked Oxford. I though it was chill and I probably wouldn’t have minded attending the university. I think I even considered studying abroad there for the summer, but instead chose London. I’m pretty glad I went to London though, because I might’ve gotten bored in Oxford. The town is nice to visit during the day with you family or significant other, but there’s not much going on and it’s not exactly close to London.
During my summer living in London, my study abroad university offered us excursions. I chose to take part in the Oxford one, because I felt like it had been some time since I had been there. Also, I like visiting places twice for the same reason I like watching movies twice. The first time you’re so overstimulated from all senses that you miss things. The second time, you’re more relaxed and able to take in more details, see local places and just casually browse. We actually went in the libraries and saw all these ancient things that were donated by old, accomplished British people.
We also strolled through the town because we had rolled in on a bus, not in a car.
Visiting as a college student, I noticed how collegiate everything felt. Like right out of An Education (the last few scenes) and The Riot Club (unsettling film, do not recommend). Of course, Oxford is probably the ultimate collegiate feel. It’s where college was like invented or whatever (okay, I’m aware it isn’t) so it makes complete sense. It was sort of surreal to be in the exact same spots I had stood just three years before. They hadn’t changed. Is that why England is so quaint? It doesn’t rapidly change the way America does?
The second time around, I let my friends roam the college grounds or shop in the markets while I set off to explore the town. After lazily napping on the lawn while listening to music, I walked to the modern art museum. I was floored by how great it was and then vowed to check out more museums in smaller towns. They might surprise me.
I still want to return to Oxford, though. I haven’t gone punting on the river yet! It’s gorgeous during the summer, so hopefully I get to go in 2015. Visit Oxford and do more than just shop while you’re there. I also dropped into a rare books store that smelled extra book-like. You’re in a college town for one of the most famous universities in the world! Sniff a few books! Look at some art!