Oxford is a city of dichotomy. Is the city part of the university or the university part of the the city? We explored this unique place at the weekend. Beautiful ancient architecture, dreaming spires, student life and tourist activity.
Undeniably a beautiful place for ‘beautiful minds’ but what of the reality of the place. Oxford is surely dominated by the colleges of the famous university, but where does the university and the city begin and end? As a visitor accompanied with a daughter attending Bath university it was an interesting insight. I had no expectations except for the knowledge of a very interesting, beautiful academic city.
On our day of exploration it was entirely tangible how the university is entwined with the city, its hard to separate the two. I fully understand how historically the ‘town vs gown conflict’ came about. We as foot soldiers on a walking tour, one of many of the day, encountered a body of graduating students and the mayhem that entails. Including by night the various vikings/Pokemon/fantasy characters roaming around which adds to the charm of the place, including the sight of a naked (I am guessing) student running the centre followed by a crowd of cheering onlookers Most of the colleges we hoped to visit were closed for the ceremonies and according to a local ‘we have graduations all the time, it’s an everyday occurence’ Whilst it made a great spectacle of mortar boards and gowns in succession in front of beautiful buildings we were slightly frustrated that we could not enter the buildings and places we came to see.
In contrast my daughter, who turned down the opportunity of applying here, when asked, ‘Would you have liked to have applied here? replied, ‘Its beautiful place but I would be really frustrated by all this tourist activity around ‘my’ campus when I am trying to get around to lectures, learn and do my studies. Hence the Gown vs Town perspective.
I loved my visit to Oxford and it was a truly magical place and a must see city. I was enchanted by the view from the towers of the central church and the general atmosphere of academic learning in the ancient buildings spanning back centuries but would I like to live here, probably not , too many students, would I like to be a student? probably not, too many tourists! All in all very beautiful place, most definitely worth a visit.