Notes from abroad: A reintroduction to Oxford

Oct. 4, 2011, 1:00 a.m.
Notes from abroad: A reintroduction to Oxford
(Courtesy of Kevin Bretthauer)

It would be far too cliché to describe returning to Oxford as if it were like arriving at Hogwarts, but there is something truly magical about this place. As I stepped off the bus on Queen’s Lane, it was impossible not to notice how the medieval colleges and cobblestone streets appeared ancient and alien when compared to Stanford’s red tile and palm trees.

Although the city of Oxford bursts with centuries-old stone buildings, it does not carry the stale decay or obsolete novelty of most museum pieces. The charm of Oxford is the blend of ancient with modern. The college halls that once sheltered politicians, scientists and thinkers still resonate in the minds of our English peers. Thatched-roofed and stone-floored pubs echo with energetic laughter and the sounds of Ke$ha. Underneath their exteriors, the buildings that make up Oxford are as excited and as alive as Stanford, with an added hint of mystery and majesty.

Retuning to Oxford is a whole new experience. I uncover and appreciate details that were hidden in the freshness of my previous experience. Being here again has taught me that it is impossible not to find something endearing about the “City of Dreaming Spires.” After landing, getting settled and battling jet lag, I chose to go on a run. My run was Oxford’s best welcome gift. As the sun rose, the ancient stone dormitories and Magdalen Tower were silhouetted against the mist and rugby fields. While I stared at that scene, the fatigue, hunger and chill of the English morning began to fade, and I knew that I was truly lucky to return to the land of stone and magic.

Kevin Bretthauer


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