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.

Related image
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.



  1. You are living the dream, Emily! I am so happy for you, and thanks for sharing bits of it with us.

    1. I kinda am! (Kinda, haha.) Thank you for this lovely comment <3

  2. It all sounds amazing- thank you for sharing the wonder!
    Happy belated birthday!

  3. I'm glad you're having a good time! I'll look forward to more of your reviews.

  4. AHHHH this looks AMAZING. I'm so happy for you and I hope you continue to enjoy it <3

    ~ noor

  5. EMILY. THAT LIBRARY. HOLY SMOKES. I'M COMING TO LIVE THERE. *jumps on a plane* That library is so freaking amazing I'm so jealous and happy for you and so glad you're enjoying uni so far and ohmergosh Oxford looks so amazing and beautiful and I CANNOT EXPRESS HOW HAPPY I AM FOR YOU OVER THE INTERNET GOSH DARN IT.

  6. Wow! That is just amazing - it's hard for me to fathom the age of Oxford. It's uncommon that I'll get to see buildings that are from the from early 1800s, let alone anything from *centuries* earlier! Congrats!

  7. Did I not comment on this? I was just thinking about how I haven't corresponded with you in ages, and then I thought I'd better come over and check your blog, and then I read this and was like ??? I've probably not left a comment but it fully gave me deja vu haha. Anyway, I think everyone's expressing how freaking awesome it is that you got into Oxford, it truly sounds like a dream. Literally, I was reading this (for the second time haha) and I still can't help thinking that it literally sounds like you're living in some old fashioned novel. I on the other hand am studying at a small cute uni in Wales where everyone speaks this toootally made up language. It's cute though :)

    Little Moon Elephant

  8. Dear God, Child! What is this?! You're like some character out of a (very English) book. From volunteering in Kenya to studying at Oxford - you're really living a most exciting life!! I put my hands up and say I have not read your blog in ages * sad face * and I'm almost glad I haven't cause you're making me extremely jealous!

    Well, well, Oxford - that is something. A huge congratulations ( because going to Oxford sounds like something to be celebrated ) and I hope you are enjoying your time there. I'm in my final year at University and I've had it up to here ( *gestures high in the air* ) and cannot wait to finally be finished. I should probably go study for that exam I have this afternoon instead of scrolling through the rest of your posts ( the latter sounds far more enjoyable ).

    Toodle-pip (... that is what they say in Oxford, right? XD ) Spit, spot.

    1. WOMAN - like where you gone too?

      I just wanted to wish you a very Happy New Year <3 may whatever wishes you hold come true x

    2. Yo yo - just checking in. Mainly to see if you are still alive.... O.o
      How're things? ( In other words: COME BACK!!! PLEASE!!!) x

    3. I keep checking back and am fully so sad everytime there's no post - sounds like a good time to petition for Emily's return?

    4. Same here. Emily? Where have you disappeared to?

  9. Wow, Oxford sounds amazing. I mean it sounded amazing before, but seriously, the 1200s?! I didn't know it was that old. The history sounds so rich. It just has it's own enchantment. I need to go sometime. To visit. Don't think I could make it through the door as a student. XD

    Glad you're having a great time! :)

    1. Also, hope you're doing well. (Sorry, thought I had one more post of yours to read.) And don't feel bad about the Footnotes, I've not done it for months now. -_- Anyway, I'm going to dash off and write you back now, finally. ;)

  10. Okay, I know this is an abrupt and somewhat annoying question but have you seen Malala?


Thanks for commenting! :)