After a successful end to our first summer session of 2012, students from the second session have just completed their first week in Oxford and Cambridge. Here we present the greatest hits taken from our counsellors’ excellent blogs.
At Oxford Royale Academy’s Cambridge campus our new students were treated to a tour of that famous university city. The tour, led by our counsellors, many of whom are Cambridge students themselves, have our new students a chance to explore the city which will be their home for the next couple of weeks.
In terms of superstitions, history, myths and sights Cambridge does not disappoint. Before they even stepped foot upon Clare Birdge, our students were faced with a choice: popular legend states that if a student walks through the middle gate of Clare Bridge they will either get a first or a third class degree. This gate is for the risk takers. If a student is less confident they will step through the outside gates…
A few steps outside of Clare College, our students entered Senate House passage, a cobbled alleyway that separates Senate House (the historic administrative building of the university) and Gonville and Caius College. The gap between the two buildings is approximately eight foot, and Cambridge students have been known to jump between the two, in the famous ‘Senate House Leap’.
Perhaps even more terrifying than the ‘Senate House Leap’ are the boards that surround Senate House, plastered at this time of year with the ‘tripos’ (exam) results of Cambridge students. Although now students are able to receive their results online, it used to be only possible to receive your results, in this very public manner. Admittedly this pales in comparison to the nerve-racking release of the Mathematic results, which are read out in order from the balcony of Senate House, before the results are thrown from the balcony.
Another destination for our students was Sidney Sussex College. Famous alumni of this college include Oliver Cromwell, who was a key leader in the English Civil War, defeating the Royalists. Cromwell was buried in Westminster Abbey in London, before being dug up, hung in chains, and posthumously beheaded by the Royalists after King Charles II was restored to the throne. His head was then buried, dug up by vengeful Royalists and rebuilt many times, before eventually being buried beneath Sidney Sussex’s college.
Here at Oxford Royale Academy we think its crucial that our students understand the history of their campus, allowing to fully understand their two week experience!
For Balliol College students, one of the highlights of their first week in Oxford was a fascinating lecture and discussion given by Sundas Ali, on the possibilities and qualities of leadership. Sundas wanted to know what is it that makes a good leader, and is this concept even viable? She is a sociology graduate from Nuffield College, who specializes in Muslim communities sense of identity and belonging to Britain.
The students discussed who they thought were successful historical and current leaders and why they were considered so. Students asked probing questions, considering whether it was even possible to have a universal standard for good leadership, thanks to factors of class, race and wealth. One students even suggested Paul James, the ORA Course Director at Balliol, as an example of a ‘good’ leader.
Once they had left the debate, ORA’s students were able to enjoy what had turned into a beautiful balmy summer evening. Back at Balliol, students were sitting out on the lawns basking in the evening light. The evening’s entertainment was provided by the exclusive Bridge nightclub. This was a great opportunity for Balliol students to meet students staying on the other ORA campuses. There was a great atmosphere, everyone taking full advantage of the dance floor. At one point the crowd separated so that several students could break dance. Anna, a student at Balliol, wowed her peers with some particularly smooth moves.
Earlier this week St. Catherine’s students taking the Oxford’s Art and Architecture afternoon workshop were treated to a visit to the famous Divinity School in the Bodleian Library. As our counsellor wrote, “It is one thing to walk amongst Oxford’s streets, viewing the timeless buildings from the outside, but to go inside and to truly engage with the creativity and complexity of such structures allows students to learn so much more.”
“It is hard for anyone to contend with the thought of hearing a great mind speak in such a room; a room that gently projects 455 carved bosses upon its vaulted ceiling, which gaze down from above. The hall encapsulates 500-year-old masonry that will not be bettered. Students were awe-struck to say the least, and many conceded that they had never seen anything quite like it.”
After Divinity Hall, the architectural tour went onto another of Oxford’s marvels, this time the Saxon Tower on Cornmarket Street. The tower is the city’s oldest building, and inside the church and tower it is all too easy to forget that it exists among branded clothing shops and phone outlets.
The tower is part of St Michael at the North Gate, named so due to its location; where Oxford’s north most point of the city dominated the skyline, when it was circled by a city wall. Students were able to climb to the top of the tower, and admire the spires from above the rooftops and take souvenir photos that they will remember in years to come.
Keep checking back for more updates!