Time for another update!
Today we traveled to Oxford, which is approximately a 1.5 hour bus ride from central London. We left bright and early at 7 am, and experienced how bad traffic was both ways. Interestingly, London enforces something known as a Congestion Charge, which is a 11.50 pound DAILY fee for drivers who drive their vehicles within the charging zone between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm, Monday – Friday. This of course is meant to reduce traffic and encourage Brits to utilize public transportation, but judging from the amount of traffic we saw, many people are clearly content to simply pay this hefty fee!
After we arrived in Oxford, we all had some free time before our first tour, which gave us an opportunity to explore. Oxford is full of cute shops, and proved to be a great place to simply wander around (something that is sometimes difficult to do in London due to its large crowds and constant traffic). Oxford is a very charming town; we saw dogs and children everywhere, so it clearly is a strong family-oriented community.
We wandered in to the gift shop of the Bodleian Library, the library of Oxford, where we’d been told to check out some very specific merchandise. Apparently, everyone who uses the library (students, scholars, readers, etc.) is required to take an oath. The oath is as follows:
- I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.
It’s also written in Latin:
- Do fidem me nullum librum vel instrumentum aliamve quam rem ad bibliothecam pertinentem, vel ibi custodiae causa depositam, aut e bibliotheca sublaturum esse, aut foedaturum deformaturum aliove quo modo laesurum; item neque ignem nec flammam in bibliothecam inlaturum vel in ea accensurum, neque fumo nicotiano aliove quovis ibi usurum; item promitto me omnes leges ad bibliothecam Bodleianam attinentes semper observaturum esse.
(Can I just say how happy I am to not have to take Latin anymore?)
Despite the Latin, I think this oath is so neat and I love the tradition behind it – even today, you are required to orally make the declaration. The Bodleian is steeped in tradition, as it is actually one of the oldest libraries in not only the UK, but also Europe. We learned more on our actual tour, where we had the chance to go into the Duke Humfrey’s library. Fun Fact: this library was filmed for the Harry Potter movies and is the Hogwarts library! We learned several interesting facts about the library, including how books used to be transferred between the “Old” and “New” libraries (they were shuttled across in a vacuum sealed tube that ran underneath the ground between the two buildings), as well as how valuable books were physically chained to the shelves.
After our tour, we ate lunch at Itsu, where I had chicken potsu (chicken, veggies, noodles, and broth). We then had more free time before our next tour, so we shopped in the covered market, and I finally bought some international stamps to mail postcards home! Our next tour was of Christ Church Cathedral School, and was very low-key and self-guided. Unfortunately, Jessica accidentally fell and hurt her ankle, so we were all quite worried the rest of the afternoon while she had it examined. Thankfully, she’s ok! No broken bones, just a sprain. But think good thoughts for her, please! We have much walking to do these next few weeks…
It wasn’t too long afterwards, that Jade, Laura Douglass and I witnessed a pretty nasty bike accident – a girl was jaywalking, trying to avoid a bus, and ended up stepping straight into a passing cyclist. They both took a hard spill to the ground, but seemed to be ok. You know what they say – bad things come in 3’s – but I’m hoping that’s not the case here!
All in all, I was very pleased with our Oxford trip. Though I cannot lie- I initially had high expectations and was a bit disappointed by our tour; through no one’s fault, my group’s tour was cut a bit short. However, there’s a valuable lesson here: One should always have NO expectations when traveling. I need to remember to be patient, go with the flow, and appreciate being in the moment! It was a beautiful day today, and I thoroughly enjoyed walking about the Christ Church Meadow, looking at the abundance of flowers, and trying to take in the scenery. Once I focused on those things, my day turned itself around. (A testament to the power of positive thinking!)
In conjunction with all this talk about beauty and positivity, here’s my favorite picture of the day:
Tomorrow we’re journeying to Stratford-upon-Avon…