Oxford Reflections by Conor Sweetman

The Oxford Study Program offered by Tyndale provided a rich opportunity for mental expansion and spiritual maturation. Four days of the week were spent at Regent’s Park College, where we spent innumerable hours delving into the literary depths of Shakespeare’s histories, tragedies and romances, as well as the theatrical heritage spanning from the Greeks to modern drama; the intellectual stimulation was heavy, yet rewarding. After class I would usually meander through the streets to one of my three favourite cafes — Blackwell’s, Vaults & Garden and Starbucks, which brought back memories of Tyndale. I would then settle in to read the required text for the next day’s discussion. After the pricey coffee had been enjoyed, I would make my way down High Street to the Bodleian Library reading rooms. There, my research was carried out under arched, stone ceilings that exuded the spirit of centuries of intellectual inspiration.

Despite the weight of exam periods that had me writing 12,000 words in a week, my time overseas was permeated with the frantic exhilaration of travel and the slow saturation of a new culture. We travelled throughout England enjoying the sights of Salisbury Cathedral and Broughton Castle and even an expedition to Ireland and Wales with new-found friends. The air of Britain was moist, the grass was green and the experience of it all brought fresh wind to my lungs and a balm of peace to my mind as I looked out over the rolling hills, dotted with white specks of grazing sheep.               

Having seemingly walked more kilometres this past semester than the preceding few years combined, it was always a warm return to the village of Charlbury. This quaint haven that lies 20 minutes outside of Oxford was full of friendly people, who did not hesitate to offer tea and conversation any day of the week. In the Baptist church comprised of about 30 elderly locals, we were cared for as a treasured group of Canadians that they have been hosting as a community for the last decade. When the time came, I left Oxford with a mind enlightened to the endless avenues of intellectual endeavour and a heart warmed by the caring hospitality of the Charlbury community.

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