Bats and Clubs

One of the best things about having Oxford professors teach with us year after year is the way they can collaborate. Today, two afternoon workshops worked together to show students how different subjects can interrelate. The subject was the British sport of cricket.

Sports and Fitness is the obvious venue for learning the rules of cricket. However, their team competed against the Voyages in Afternoon Tea class! Not surprising, really, when you think about how iconic tea and cricket are to the British mindset.

Maybe the match was team against team, but maybe it was more British professor vs. British professor. Either way, the Afternoon Tea team was victorious!

Everyone else got the chance to get sweaty at Summerfuel Club Night. The Bridge Club welcomes us every year to an under-18 party, along with several other programs. It’s hot, it’s crowded, but it’s a lot of fun!

Two professional DJs mixed familiar tunes for everyone to dance to.

After all that, everyone’s pretty tired, but at least there are only morning classes tomorrow!

Learning in London

Summerfuel Oxford teachers took a well-deserved day off and let museums do the educating! We drove up to Exhibition Road and split students’ time between two galleries based on their morning seminars and afternoon workshops.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is so vast that it defies categorization, but most people put it under “arts and design”. Exhibits inside range from West End theatre costumes to South Asian carvings, and stock everything in between.

The Science Museum, although just as fascinating, couldn’t be more different. Its exhibits focus on the history, application, and even the future of science. Spoiler alert: the next big source of energy will be “poo”.

And museums aren’t the only place to gain authentic experience. Harrod’s department store was a great spot for the Marketing class to analyze strategies and plans. Not to mention, a good place for souvenirs and makeup!

If today wasn’t full enough, we still had a round of evening activities to complement the trip to London. Some students attended an open-air production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (look forward to a separate post soon). Others attended Bill Spectre’s famous Ghost Tour of Oxford, complete with thrills and chills!

Activities and an Academic Seminar

Today in brief:

Students enjoyed some afternoon cream tea and scones in town at noon today- a great way to relax after morning classes!

Through a few short quizzes students were able learn more about themselves, their traits and their overall personality types. 

After that, student representatives were able to give feedback on their courses and speak for their floors about what they want to see from or enjoy about our program.

The highlight was today’s guest speaker, Sarah Jinks. Based at St. Clare’s College, Sarah is a specialist biology teacher and an Oxford graduate! In her post-graduate work she investigated the student as a `risk taker’. Tonight’s seminar discussed women scientists from the past, from Caroline Herschel – who discovered several comets – to Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, who deciphered the structure of insulin.

Finally, students ended the night with a game out on the LMH fields. It was “kind of like American football, but with goalies”. Oh, also, the ball was about four feet in diameter. Not really sure what to call it, but it looked fun!

Broughton Castling

We visited a castle today! Does that sound like last Sunday, when we visited Blenheim Palace? Maybe, but our students will probably tell you that it was a totally different experience.

Broughton Castle is still the operating residence of Lord & Lady Saye and Seale, which makes it feel much more cosy than the formidable Blenheim Palace. Also, while Blenheim was built in the 18th century, Broughton dates back to the early 1200s and has been in the same family since 1377!

The castle also has a star-studded history: it was used as the filming site for Shakespeare in Love and the 2011 film version of Jane Eyre. However, it never felt too imposing, especially when the Lord of the manor greeted us and gave us a personal talk on its history and workings.

A great place to spend a quiet Sunday afternoon, drink some tea from the stable cafe, and put off doing weekend homework. Well, maybe not that last part.

Options in London

Our third trip into London together found us split over four different locations. About half the students chose the photogenic Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Both of these are great places to learn about the history of London, and also famous sights to see!

The rest of the group visited the decidedly less spectacular (at least from the outside) Tate Modern to view some contemporary works from around the world. After that, they were dropped off at the alternative Camden Market for infamously instagrammable food and souvenirs.

In the evening, it was time for a little Motown revival at our yearly Casino Night. Everything from poker to bingo was on offer, while a roving magician stunned with minor miracles. Raffle prizes included Summerfuel water bottles, British candy collections, and — the grand prize — two tickets to next Thursday’s London production of 42nd Street!

Course Midterm Time

Here’s a quick update on how a few of the classes are going here at Summerfuel Oxford 2018.

Art and Architecture takes full advantage of innumerable field trip locations, opening students’ eyes to what is standing right around them. This year, professor John Rolfe is focusing on the juxtaposition between age-old structures and modern buildings here.

Meanwhile, the marketing class conducted a blind taste test of budget, midrange, and high-end chocolate and water, to see how effective advertising has been on them. The verdict? There are definitely differences in chocolate, but water tastes like water!


The finance class ramped things up with a heated debate. Both sides made informed arguments based on extensive research in and out of class.

These are just a few of the enriching and rigorous academic experiences that students have the chance to experience here. We’re only halfway through, so it’ll be fantastic to see what’s coming up!

Another Sunny Day

It’s been a very unusual summer for us in Oxford. The typical weather is mild and sometimes rainy, and we thought we were due for some of that today. But the sun somehow broke through the weather forecast and it was bright as ever. Good thing for us, because we had a lot of outdoor activities planned!

Many students took advantage of Lady Margaret Hall’s special location on the river and rented punts. This was a new and particularly British experience, and some took to it much better than others. At least no one fell in!


Hopefully by the end of the afternoon, some students learned some of the basics, as this was also the subject of the Sports & Fitness class!

… or not.

Midweek Check-in

Another day checked off of week 2!

Lots of cold treats in the hot summer… from healthy smoothies with fresh fruit from the farmers’ market in town to decadent homemade ice cream from local chain G&D’s. Anything to take the sting off of England’s loss in the World Cup match tonight!

Now they’re resting up for the first optional London theatre trip to see Motown the Musical!