Look familiar? I’m back with another Versatile Blogger Award! Thanks so much to Dani for nominating me! Last time I gave this award a summer theme, but this time the theme is extra special: Oxford! As you read this, I will be flying across the pond to Oxford, England to visit some friends at Mansfield College, where I spent my junior year studying abroad. I’m beyond excited to go over again and see so many familiar people and places—and I’m excited to share my adventures when I get back! But for now, here are seven Oxford themed fun facts about me.
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1. In a shocking un-Holly-like move that bewildered all of my friends and family back home, I was the goalkeeper for the Mansfield-Merton football team. I wasn’t very good and really was only able to play because they desperately needed a body in goal, but I still played. I loved the feeling of being on a team—and the lemonade we shared after games! I’ll always be grateful that I randomly decided to go to a football taster session with my friend one afternoon early on in the first term.
2. Although I love so many cafes in Oxford, the one that really stole my heart was George Street Social. (Which I wrote about in a post here.) Not only is it a lovely place to read and write during the day, but it also doubles as a fun pub-like setting in the evenings. One of my friends and I went there a few times to have a drink and play one of the old board games they had piled on a shelf upstairs. There’s this one table on your right when you first walk in that was my absolute favorite—the chairs were comfortable and it was next to a wide window with a perfect view of the bustling street. Would definitely recommend stopping by if you’re ever in the area!
3. Almost every day my friends and I would take a 3pm essay break and walk through Uni Parks to a little farm with the most beautiful group of horses. It was definitely someone’s field—their house was right beside it—but if they ever had any qualms about a bunch of American girls standing by their fence gazing out at their horses, they never said anything. We named the horses based on their colorings and even got to pet them a few times. It was such a serene scene, one that I looked forward to every afternoon. Even though Oxford is a city (albeit a small one), I was delighted to discover that there were still plenty of green spots to be enjoyed.
4. As a Visiting Student, I wasn’t required to attend any lectures or other meetings apart from my weekly tutorials; however, I found myself attending a handful of them each week anyways, at least throughout the first two terms. I initially started going to them because I genuinely enjoy listening to lectures—ones about literature, at least. Yet I kept going to them for very different reasons: I quickly realized that they were a great way to gain a bit of context about what I was reading and writing about this week without having to do all the research on my own. Lectures provided me with a great starting point from which I then branched off into what I was specifically interested in. Academics aside, lectures also provided me a way to interact with English lit students from different colleges. Often I would end up sitting next to the same person a few lectures in a row, and eventually we would strike up a conversation. I even met some other American Visiting Students that way, which made me feel more at home.
5. It seemed as though everyone at Oxford was obsessed with ABBA—specifically the songs from Mamma Mia.Now, don’t get me wrong, I love me some ABBA. But this seemed like a deeply entrenched knowledge of ABBA. At every Mansfield bop there would be a half hour DJ set of solely ABBA, and no matter what direction you looked everyone was singing. And I mean everyone—even that guy on the men’s football team that I never pictured singing anything was belting out the lyrics and dancing like his life depended on it. While I fully supported everyone’s obsession with ABBA, it did initially take me by surprise.
6. I was the Visiting Student Representative in the Mansfield JCR during my year at Oxford, which was as fascinating as it was fun. Having spent two years as a Class Senator in student government at Wheaton, I was really interested to see what student government at Oxford would be like. The answer: much, much more supportive and engaged (at least at Mansfield) and much, much more efficient than at Wheaton. It was such a breath of fresh air to see agenda items actually being ticked off and funding be allocated to things that the student body was actually passionate about.
7. Oxford taught me how to balance work and play. Although my experience was obviously different from a matriculated Oxford student, I nevertheless found myself simultaneously working harder and having more fun than ever before. Part of this is due to the nature of the tutorial system that Oxford uses—since I had to write about 1.5 essays a week for three terms, I could budget my time so that I only had to work from about 9am to 5pm every day and the rest of the time I was free to explore the city and spend time with friends. It’s more difficult for me to strike that balance here, but even so I felt like I did a much better job after Oxford than before.
YOU! Because I just did this award last week as well, I’m not going to go through and nominate anyone specifically. But if you had a hankering to share seven fun facts about yourself, please do!
My year at Oxford shaped me in so many ways, some of which I’ve only realized after being back for months. Do you have a place that’s shaped you in a similarly profound way? What do you think of my fun Oxford facts? Let me know in the comments section below!