A Journey to Bicester, and A Journey to the Library (7/9)

Hello! Your intrepid blogger is here, writing to you with further tales of adventure and awe as your students continue to bask in the glow of Oxford.

Tuesday afforded students the opportunity to take a bus to Bicester Village with Cameron and do a bit of shopping.

At the same time, students were afforded a tour of one of the libraries here at Lady Margaret Hall led by James, LMH’s librarian, who was chockablock full of interesting anecdotes and facts about some of the pieces held here on campus.

It is incredible to think that some of the artifacts and texts that students saw today predate English settlers arriving on the coast of the Americas. 

In the evening, Cameron led a rousing round of karaoke that was not only well-attended, but raucous and loud. It’s so wonderful to see students not only having a good time, but being genuinely supportive of one another. Every person who got up to sing was greeted with a round of cheers.

Peels of laughter could be heard throughout the evening as students continue to deepen and strengthen friendships over tea, journeys into town for food or shopping, and walks about campus. We are so fortunate to be here!

High Tea Part II

Cyle here, fresh from an afternoon spent at High Tea with Monica. I feel so very fortunate to get to spend time with such a lovely staff and group of students who are, to a person, bright, affable, and charming.

The setting and service was wonderful and the conversation was lively and spirited. Such sparkling wit! (I’m feeling very posh post-tea- my apologies.) What follows is a lovely before and after.

This evening is relatively mellow, broadly speaking- an evening of karaoke. But later this week, we’ll have the second in our series of three seminars, will take a day trip to London complete with students’ choice of walking or bicycling tours, will play a live game of Quidditch on the pitch, and have a Club Night on Friday.

Broughton Castle

Cyle here. This afternoon, RAs Monica, Cameron, and I were fortunate enough to take a group of students to Broughton Castle where we toured the garden…

…were able to hear from the Lord of the house, Martin Fiennes, and ask him questions about what it’s like to live and work in a castle…

…tour the grounds of a building that has stood since 1300, and been in the possession of the same family since 1377…

…and have a lovely time sharing an afternoon tea. Even our “mellow” days here at Oxford bring us astounding beauty, mind-bending history, and wonderful stories.

High Tea and Great Gatsby

Cyle here, writing from the Old Library where we’re hosting a Great Gatsby-themed Casino Night. I’m “tending bar” and serving up a bevy of mocktails sporting monikers inspired by the novel.

First, I should probably mention that a group of students signed up to participate in a High Tea with Lindsey and Riley this afternoon, and a grand time was had by all.

I’m made to understand that there was a lot of learning about English tea culture that occurred (and some knowledge gleaned from our “Voyages In Tea” workshop put to use!) and that even those who had previously participated in a High Tea learned something new. We have another group attending High Tea on Monday.

I had the privilege of attending the Entrepreneurship class this morning to hear our students’ industrious and ambitious product pitches. It was wonderful to get to hear the results of a week’s worth of brainstorming and collaborating and I was duly impressed.

As for the Gatsby party, students got “gussied up” and came to the Old Library to have a bit of evening fun playing various card games for the chance to win prizes. The RAs did a fantastic job of decorating and everyone is having a lovely time.

(Please notice RA Monica photobombing an otherwise lovely photo…)


Carroll’s Oxford, Punting, and a Barbecue!

Cyle here, writing with not a small amount of charcoal on my hands and clothes after commandeering the grill station all evening as we served up hamburgers, sausages, veggie burgers, and veggie kabobs!

Classes continue to enliven, challenge, and delight our students. Today, students in the Oxford Authors class took a tour of town of “Lewis Carroll’s Oxford” led by our lead faculty, John Rolfe, and saw a great many sights. The poems of Carroll led them throughout town and finished in front of Christ Church Meadow, seen below.

This afternoon, students were treated to more of the wealth of knowledge and history housed in Oxford’s museums. I’ve really enjoyed seeing several students’ opinions of museums change over these past two visits. At first, there were a few groans, but I’m hearing more and more, “Have you seen the _________ at _______? So cool!” (For instance, did you know that the Pitt River Museum houses the 2nd most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the world?!)


As it’s the 4th of July, the staff thought that we would be remiss to not host festivities in honor of the nation’s independence, and when we found that Oxford has an old style brick grill, we couldn’t resist a barbeque. We also taught the students how to participate in that most Oxford of activities: punting.

A punt is a long, narrow, flat boat that is propelled by the punt stick (the tall stick that the young woman in the back of the boat in the above photo is holding) as well as a short paddle. And now, some math: Students in groups + narrow boat + punt stick + body of water = Lots of fun/laughing/near falls into aforementioned body of water. (It’s a complicated equation, I know…)

Students were impressed- and a little confused- by the food. “Cyle!” They said. “What’s a prawn cocktail? What would it taste like on a chip?” The answer came, “I don’t know! Try it!” And they did!

It wasn’t long before, like so many barbecues, games of soccer and whatnot broke out. When the end of the night arrived, our RAs found that many students were already asleep- or at least halfway there.

World Cup Match & The World’s Loudest Game of Uno

Cyle here, writing on a sunny and mild day here at Summerfuel Oxford.

Today, students were treated to private tours of four of the most popular museums here in Oxford: the Ashmolean, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Natural History, and the Pitt Rivers Museum. Our RAs continue to impress me (and their students!) with their deep knowledge of all things Oxford, and they did an amazing job of showing students what each museum housed and how to navigate them. Each museum was attended by specific RA groups so as to continue to build community and help students get to know one another, and on Thursday, students will select the museum whose contents most align with their interests and they will be sent off to discover, explore, and learn.

I noticed that it was difficult for several students to devote their full attention to the museum though, because they were too anxious and excited for the evening’s World Cup football match between the US and England.

The staff put together a viewing party in the Talbot Bar (common area) and projected the match on a large projector screen.

One of the things that I really like about this group of students is how involved they all are. Even if they weren’t terrifically excited about the match, they still showed up to be with everyone (or, for the snacks…).

Behold! The homework on the couch contingency!

There was also a big game of Settlers of Catan.

Oh, and let us not forget the world’s loudest game of Uno… ever.

Don’t let their casual postures fool you. Shouts of “Plus four! Plus four!” could be heard from three buildings over.

Finally, table tennis in the garden is proving awfully popular…

Student Blog: “Teen Cuisine Abroad”

Cyle here, writing to you to share a special blog from two of our students.

Ally (left) and Alexis formed an instant connection on Sunday afternoon and, sharing an affinity for spreadsheets and calendars, immediately decided to procure food recommendations from the senior staff and every website they could find, and organize a weeks long food tour of Oxford. They took it one step further by deciding to blog about it. I’ve read the first two entries, and look forward to more.

Check their blog out at: teencuisineabroad.blogspot.com

First Day of Classes & An Epic Game of Capture The Flag

Cyle here,writing to you with the second day of Summerfuel Oxford in the books, and boy was it a good one!

Monday was the first day of classes for our 2019 students and those classes range in topic from the Humanities (Shakespeare, Oxford Authors, Law & Society) to the Sciences (Developmental Psychology, Genetics), to the artistic and expressive (Creative Writing, Digital Photography). The RAs and I have heard nothing but positive- maybe even glowing- reports of the faculty and the curriculum writ large, and that students feel that the classes are both relevant and engaging, as well as challenging. We are extremely proud of our faculty, and so it is nice to hear that the students are feeling so positively.

The RAs led their hall groups in the town center to begin to explore what amenities Oxford has to offer, and helped their students find places to change currency, buy toiletries and necessities, and get a really good meal for £3!

Later in the evening, the RAs did a fantastic job of putting together an evening program that is best described in pictures. Let’s begin with how beautiful University Parks- 74 acres of pristinely kept fields and gardens that are among the most beautiful that these eyes have ever seen- is. University Parks abuts Lady Margaret Hall, and we will be utilizing the space constantly. Could you blame us?

We began with a water balloon toss, where students partnered up and tossed a water balloon between them. With each catch, the student partners had to take a step back until the water balloon burst. Laughter ensured.

Look at far out they got!


Next, the RAs led us in a round of Human Knot, where students got into groups, grabbed one another’s hands in various combinations, and then, without letting go of one another’s hands, they tried to untangle themselves. Again, laughter ensued.

And then, there was an epic game of Capture the Flag. Because of how large University Parks is, we had to limit the field to about the size of a soccer pitch, and students were having so much fun that we played several rounds. I was most impressed by our female students who mixed it up as well or better than their male counterparts, utilizing good strategy to help their teams win. (The young man in the photo below had just been sneak-tagged by the young woman behind him!)

One of my favorite things about Summerfuel is that it attracts both excellent students as well as excellent athletes. I don’t need to tell you that the young man in the photo below is fast- you can see that he’s fast.


Suffice it to say that, between the rigorous classes, the lovely afternoon out with RAs and exploring the city, and an evening running wild, our students had no trouble getting to sleep!


Oh! And I nearly forgot! Our intrepid RA, Riley, found an inflatable Connect Four game and RA Cameron had a VERY good time.