I love London. You probably know that by now. Most of my time spent in the UK has been spent there (discounting my study abroad in Brighton). I think at this point I’ve been about 8 separate times? I seriously just can’t get sick of the city.
But anyways, even I figured it was time to branch out again and explore more of England! So when Colin (my friend from Seattle) invited me to go along with to his brothers college ball at Univeristy College at Oxford University** , I couldn’t turn down the opportunity!
Despite its size (small), Oxford was pretty eventful. From attending an Oxford college ball, witnessing the Brexit happen in front of our eyes, and trespassing to get a ‘panoramic’ view of the city, it was all in all a fun stay!
Oxford- The Colleges & City
Soooooo Oxford is actually a pretty small city- definitely much smaller than I imagined it to be. I guess since it’s one of the more well known english cities (obviously because of the university), I imagined it to be quite big. But it’s not. Turns out it’s the 52nd largest city in England, which I was pretty surprised about. What this means though, is that it was easy to see most of the city in a couple of days. Well, that is the parts of the city that are open to tourists.
We learned the hard way that Oxford is really exclusive. You’ve either gotta be a student, have lots of money, or both to get into a lot of the points of interest. Most of the Oxford colleges charge you admission just to go in and take a peak (if you’re a student there, you of course get free admission). And there’s 38 colleges, so you can do the math there haha….. We obviously didn’t see all 38 but we went into a couple of the major ones.
I guess I was annoyed because my alma matter, University of Washington, definitely does not charge tourists despite having a beautiful campus. Luckily, Kevin was able to get us into some of the colleges for free since he is in fact a student. And to be fair, they are quite beautiful buildings (though I still think they should be free). Kevin explained to us that most of the Oxford University buildings were originally built as monasteries, so they’ve got a medieval style architecture and most (maybe all) even include a chapel inside.
Colin and I ended up stumbling into a church service while visiting Christ Church College- one of the most important and famous colleges. Christ Church has served as a filming site for the Harry Potter movies, and although I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan, I still found that pretty cool. Anyways, the church service was surprisingly interesting since the priest was actually talking about relatable content. She even talked about the infamous Brexit, which happened to occur while we were in Oxford.
On a side note- I was literally so shocked that the Brexit referendum turned out the way it did. And so were most people I know who are British, living in England, or had any opinion on the matter at all. It was pretty terrible news to wake up to TBH……….
Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side while in Oxford. It rained almost everyday, which I’m not sure is normal, or if we were just particularly unlucky haha……. Regardless, as proper Seattelites, we didn’t let that stop us! We went to rooftop bars, strolled the city, and even went punting in the rain! FYI- punting is REALLY hard. I have to give kudos to Colin for punting most of the way.
We were in Oxford for about 5 nights I believe, but we only went out for two of them- the night of the ball, and another one out on the town. Kevin invited some of his friends over and after a couple drinks we all headed over into the center of the city.
I can’t remember the name of the club we ended up at, but it was really fun! There were multiple rooms with different type of music and lots of people. I guess that even though the city is so small, a big percentage of the population are students, so the buzzing nightlife makes sense:)
Oxford’s a small city, so there wasn’t too much to pick from, but we did have a couple of good eats. I introduced Colin to Nando’s, and he loved it, but seriously how could be not have?
There was also a cute little cafe called the Quarter Horse close to Kevin’s house (where we were staying). Coffee and service was nice there!
And of course, if you’re in England you have to also indulge in both an English breakfast and Sunday roast! So we did just that. We did full english breakfast the day after the ball and it was standard but tasty and satisfying. The roast we did the day we left and it was honestly kind of expensive, but so worth the money. It was also a pretty unconventional take on the ‘standard’ Sunday roast- so it was nice to try something new even if we only ordered it because the restaurant was out of the standard one. Their lack of food resources was the best thing that could’ve happened. It was sooooooo good.
University College Ball- Interstellar
The university college ball ahhh, the reason we even went to Oxford in the first place. So was it worth making the trip out, carrying a giant pair of heels in my backpacking bag, and spending money for tickets and attire??? Most definitely. The ball took place at the University College campus and it was ‘interstellar’ themed. It’s like the kind of proms that you see in cheesy chick flicks moves but x 1000. It’s funny too, because it was one of the more ‘affordable’ and less elaborate university balls- I can’t even imagine what the others were like.
To start, there was tons of food options for ‘dinner’ and they were all really tasty (I couldn’t eat as much as I would’ve liked since my romper was pretty tight- I was worried I’d rip the seams if ate too much haha). But there was not shortage of desserts either- there was cupcake tents, ice cream stands, and chocolate fountains scattered around the college.
What’s a good party without drinks and entertainment though, right? Well the ball had unlimited drinks all night long and plenty of entertainment. Live music, silent disco, planetarium, bumper cars, laser tag, fireworks and multiple dance floors were all part of the fun. Time didn’t allow for us to fully take advantage of all it had to offer. I’m pretty sure I didn’t get a chance to see and experience everything at the ball because it was freaking immense. But I had a blast anyways.
I’ve realized I tend to prefer either really small cities, or really big cities while traveling. Oxford was neither. It’s a relatively normally sized city, with normal things to do but I had a really great time regardless:) I’m not sure it’s a city I’ll go back to without reason, but I definitely had a good time (though if I’m invited to another ball, I’m there in a heartbeat lol).
– Sinceramente, Gigi
**University of Oxford is comprised of is 38 colleges, each with autonomous control of its membership and its own internal structure and activities. University College is one of those constituent colleges. I definitely didn’t know that- so I thought I’d share that little tidbit of information!