Oxford University ~ More than just Education

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Travel Features >> Oxford University ~ More than just Education

Oxford University ~ More than just Education

January 09, 2013

What would you give to stand where Sir Walter Raleigh and Rupert Murdoch made history, on the grounds where politicians like William Gladstone, Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Indira Gandhi and Manmohan Singh learnt how to lead, lean against the walls which first heard the melodies and works of Samuel Johnson, Lewis Carroll, Robert Southey and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and on the soil which produced at least twelve saints, and twenty Archbishops of Canterbury?

An experience in itself, attending the University of Oxford in England is considered to be one of the most prestigious things to happen to a person. The university is famed for producing some of the finest men and women in the world. Historically, the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the second-oldest university in existence, Oxford is a dream for many. Supposed to have been built during the reign of Henry the Second, the university dates back to 1096 and today, offers a plethora of courses in every stream of study. From Arts, Science and Law to Architecture, the University offers diverse and unmatched education.

It is said that the structure can be a riddle for newcomers or visitors. Basically a federation, the compound comprises of over forty self-governing colleges and halls, in addition to the central management, headed by the Vice-Chancellor. The educational sections, which are not allied with any particular college, are placed at the core of this structure. Services like libraries are also available on all these levels.

The University even houses various sites of historical significance, museums and parks, which are favourite tourist spots as well. Being a 'city university', its various sections are spread out over an enormous area. Iconic university buildings like the Sheldonian Theatre are often used for organising music concerts, university ceremonies, lectures and Examination Schools.

Maintaining a number of museums and galleries which are open freely to the public, the University holds credit for places like the Ashmolean Museum, which is the oldest museum in the UK and which showcases noteworthy collected works of art and archaeology, inclusive of works by people like Michelangelo, Turner, Leonardo da Vinci, and Picasso, along with treasures like the Scorpion Macehead, the Alfred Jewel, and the Parian Marble. The museum even takes pride in the possession of "The Messiah", which is a perfect example of a Stradivarius violin. Along with this, the university also maintains the Ashmolean Museum, which reopened in November 2009.

The Museum of Natural History too is worthy of a visit as it holds the University’s anatomical and natural history samples and is housed in a huge neo-Gothic building. Some of its most famed collections are the skeletons of a Tyrannosaurus rex and triceratops, and the most absolute remains of a dodo. The Pitt Rivers Museum, in the vicinity as well, is a famous tourist spot as it showcases the University’s archaeological and anthropological compilations, which as of today holds more than 500,000 items. Moreover, we have the Museum of the History of Science, Christ Church Picture Gallery, etc, all of which are definitely worth a visit. Along with several museums, there are also many University Parks spread over an area of 70 acres, which not only provide a great area for relaxation but also beautiful scenery with gorgeous plants and vegetation. Open to the public for free, the parks have beautiful gardens with exceptional and foreign plants, along with sports fields, used for both official and unofficial purposes. A much known spot is the Autumn Walled Garden of the Botanic Garden. Known to be the oldest botanic garden in the UK, the Botanic Garden is the third-oldest systematic garden in the world containing more than 8,000 different plant species in an area of 1.8 4½ acres. Further, the Harcourt Arboretum is also a famous park, with 130 acres of native woodland and 67 acres of meadows.

Oxford University is home to a lot of areas where many great minds were shaped and cultivated, but being unavailable to common visitors, you’ll just have to make do! Nevertheless, a visit to the university premises is in itself a great experience as one gets the chance to walk among future leaders!

- Contributed by Nupur Kaudan

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