Monday, 16 October 2017

Oxford Adventure // Footnotes

I could start by apologising for being over two weeks late to post the prompt for my own link-up, but in my defence: I have started university! I have moved country! I have turned nineteen! My life has changed quite immeasurably!

Matriculation, when we have to put on our "sub-fusc" (the gown and unpleasantly school-uniform-like clothing) and parade the streets, tourists snapping pictures of us, to the Sheldonian theatre. Someone spoke in Latin, and then we were officially enrolled. This is beneath the Bridge of Sighs.
So I am now a student in this city. These are the opening lines from a poem called 'Dun Scotus's Oxford' by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

Towery city and branchy between towers;
Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmèd, lark-charmèd, rook-racked, river-rounded.

I'll be studying this poem in a couple of weeks. It's from 1879 (and the subject, Dun Scotus, was in Oxford in 1301), but Oxford, I can confirm, is still a towery city, branchy between towers, still bell-swarmèd. From my room, I hear the bells of Magdalen ringing the quarter hours.

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It still feels like a dream, the fact that I'm in this glorious city. That I live and study here. Coming to Oxford really has been my lifelong dream, so it's crazy that it's now my reality. I will never get over the exquisite beauty of this place.

I live in my college, on a corridor (it feels a tiny little bit like an Enid Blighton boarding school novel). The age of this place is quite overwhelming. Glasgow, my home, is a very old city, but most of our buildings are Victorian (because they ripped all the medieval buildings down). Whereas Oxford is properly, breathtakingly, in-your-face medieval. My college, as in the place where I live and study, was founded in 1278. Like ... what?!

Oxford is also a paradise of libraries. Seee that big circular dome in the above picture? It's called the Radcliffe Camera. I was working in there this afternoon, reading essays about Dickens.

And my college library is a converted 13th century chapel.

Image result for st edmund hall college oxford library
Not kidding. That's where I work.

I really don't want this all to come across as boastful! I'm just, like, walking around in a state of constant amazement that I actually get to be here. It's really, properly mental.


Which is no surprise, because I love books so what would we expect? But, wow, my lectures are so good. Like, so good. The professors here are properly amazing and I'm so, so privileged to learn from them! And I just love books, guys. I wish I could say more coherent things about the incredible vast landscape of literature in which I'm a pilgrim, but I'll just stick with: I love it.

It was my birthday on Friday. I was worried before I came, because I knew my birthday was so soon after the start of time and I thought it could be a lonely one. But actually I have met a lot of really great people -- on my course, in my college and at church -- and had a lovely birthday. Not only did my home friends pull through by sending me post, my new friends surprised me with cake and presents! We went for drinks in the oldest pub in Oxford (from the 14th century -- isn't this place weird??).

This post is sickeningly positive, I'm so sorry to bleat on about my life! But I wanna share the love!

(I also want to clarify that I've had some ropy moments, because moving and settling in is hard, and of course this place, my home of not quite two weeks, is nothing like my old home, and I really miss my friends and my family. It's easy to make Oxford sound like a charmed life, and maybe it is in some ways, but it's not perfect. Even charmed life is still life, and life is hard.)

But it is rather idyllic, "river-rounded" as Hopkins put it, and after the matriculation ceremony, we went punting! (A punt is kind of like a canoe, four people sit and one person punts you using a long pole along the riverbed. It's the classic thing to do in both Oxford and Cambridge.)

I love autumn! The leaves are falling golden here, and the streets are so clean and pale, and the sun so bright, and it really is a magical city. Another line from the Hopkins poem with which I began:

"[Oxford is] of reality the rarest-veined unraveller"

It reminds me of those words from Baedeker I shared a few weeks ago: "Oxford, where doors open into other worlds". (I almost changed the blog name to Other Worlds, by the way. I hope you're enjoying the rebrand.)

This is enough rambling on from me! The reason I'm actually here is to post the prompt for Footnotes (only sixteen days late ... *ahem*).

Fortunately, Ashley is on the ball, so if you follow her (if not, why not, sort yourself out), you'll know the prompt!

A quotation from a poem.


(Oh, and if you don't know what Footnotes is ... I probably should have explained. Awfully sorry. My past self will oblige -- click here.)

There's plenty more I could say about all sorts of things, but for now the most pertinent is probably goodnight. I really miss all your blogs, by the way. I'm going to visit, I promise!

angela dalinger
[source] // Angela Dalinger

Until soon.