Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Oxford Experience

Several years ago I read about something very interesting called the Oxford Experience The Oxford Experience offers week-long courses over a five week summer period by Oxford University at Christ Church College. It sounded so heavenly that I mentioned it to Leslie, my Anglophile friend, and she immediately committed to attend with me. So we signed-up and started counting the days.

While a bit steep in price, the registration fee includes housing, all meals (held in the magical Hogwart's dining hall as depicted in the Harry Potter films), and a key to the front gate. Well worth it. And the subjects for the classes were all interesting such as: The Making of the English Landscape; Revolutionary Romantic Poet; or The Vikings in Britain to name just a few.

Twice now Leslie and I have participated in the Oxford Experience. My first course (four years ago) was creative writing with an art appreciation component. We studied paintings in the gallery at Christ Church, wrote a story or a poem about the painting and then made a book origami style to fit the story/poem and the painting. I loved every minute of this class.

Last year I selected another great class--Jane Austen. The class was comprised of 11 women (no men, what a surprise) from the U.S., Australia, and Sweden. We all clicked well. And it was so enjoyable to focus on Jane Austen and her work for five days.

On our fourth day we had a field trip. We traveled to Chawton to visit the last house Jane Austen lived in. While visiting the house there was a woman, her two kids, and husband also visiting the house. I recognized her as the actress Olivia Williams. She later told me she had just been given the role to play Jane Austen in her later years and was to begin filming in two weeks. The movie, "Miss Austen Regrets", was played earlier this year during the Jane Austen Masterpiece Theatre extravaganza on PBS. And she was excellent.

At the end of the week there was a lovely garden reception and dinner where we received certificates confirming we had successfully completed a course at Oxford. Leslie and I are planning to return--maybe next time we will stay two weeks and take two classes--that would be jolly-good.

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