A great experience

Oxford is one of the loveliest cities I’ve been to in the UK. I’m extremely glad that I got the privilege to live and study in this city for a year. It is an old city mainly famous for its University which is one of the oldest and one of the most prestigeous universities in the UK and in the world. The University of Oxford is divided in colleges such as the famous Christ Church College or Magdalen College. These colleges are scattered all around the town centre. Their english gothic architecture is really emblematic of Oxford. That is why some parts of Harry Potter’s movies have been filmed in Oxford such as in the Great Hall of Christ Church College.

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Visiting Oxford

Living in Oxford is really nice as it is a city which is full of greenery. Indeed, most of the colleges have lovely gardens and there are also a few parks scattered all around the town centre that make you forget that you are in a city. How many times have I gone to South Park and University Park to walk around and have a bit of fresh air !  My favourite stroll was to walk down King’s Mill Lane which leads you to the Mesopotamia walk. This walk is in the middle of  meadows and swamps. It allows you to follow the River Cherwell  until University College. The flora is therefore luxurious in Oxford as well as the fauna. There are a lot of ducks, swans, squirrels and other small rodents around Oxford’s parks and gardens. I have also met some foxes at night but they were to affraid to pose for me and let me take a picture !

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If you are not a big fan of walks there is something else you can do in Oxford and that is called Punting ! You can take a small boat by Magdalen College and enjoy the quietness of the river through some of the colleges’parks and meadows. Punting is quite fun when you manage to go in the right direction. It can quickly become annoying if you don’t get how to steer the boat. The guy who lends the boat said once that it is a risk for couples to punt together as they might not survive the tour !

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Eating, drinking and shopping

Oxford town centre offers a lot of choices whether you want to go to a bar, a pub or a restaurant. If there is one pub you should go to, it is the Turf Tavern. It is a bit hidden,  not far from the Bridge of Sighs. You just need to follow the sign next to the Bridge and walk down St Helen’s passage. There is nothing nicer than enjoying a pint of larger in this lovely courtyard with some friends.

Oxford town centre isn’t the only good place for shopping, eating or having a drink. You should also try to go to some of Oxford’s suburbs and neighbourhoods. Cowley is a great place for instance. I have always enjoyed having drinks at the Cowley Retreat. Headington is also great for food shopping for instance. There are some great restaurants in the Jericho neighbourhood as well as in Summertown.

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I discovered a lot of restaurant chains that we don’t have back in France such as Jamie’s Italian, Zizzi’s, Nando’s, Wagamama, Bella Italia or Bill’s. I also found out about pub chains such as O’neill’s, Wetherspoons or Slug & Lettuce. I have been to all of these establishments. They are just common places to go for lunch or for a drink but you beggin to feel like you are becoming part of this country when you know about these places! I remember feeling like an outsider when my flatmates were like “No way! You don’t know Nando’s ?!!!”

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There are three shops I particularly like in Oxford. The first one is Alice’s shop. It is a gift and souvenirs shop based on Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. It was formerly frequented  by Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, who used to buy sweets there. She lived at Christ Church with her father, who was Dean of the College. The other shop I like is Scribbler. It is a card shop and it is the place you should go to if you need to find a fun card for a special occasion. I keep buying cards there each time I’m back in Oxford for birthdays or Christmas. The third shop I really like is called The Truck Store. It is a records store where you can enjoy a drink listening to music after finding and buying your favourite album. You can read about the Truck Store here.

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Student life

I am unfortunately not clever enough to go to the University of Oxford. However i got the chance to spend my last year of Bachelors at Oxford Brookes University in order to get a double degree in international business. Being a student in Oxford was litterally awesome ! I was lucky to share a student flat with great english flatmates who quickly became close friends. I met all the students living in my block and we all became part of the same group of friends. There was always someone available to watch a movie with, go to the cinema or the pub with, cook with or even go out with.  The only negative point about uni was that all my lectures where on the Wheatley campus. This campus is an old campus outside of Oxford so I had to take a bus to get there. I also wish that i had more lectures because having less than 7 hours a week is kind of a joke !

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Having a lot of free time allowed me to find a job in a pub/restaurant called Slug & Lettuce. Working there was a great experience. I had never been a waiter before so I learned a lot. My team of co-workers was also great. It was a pleasure to work with them and it is still a pleasure to have a drink with them.  It is probably the only workplace where I have never been bored or annoyed to go to. Working there was fun as my fellow sexy sluggers were cool, customers were  fun and there were many events organised such as DJ themed nights. The menus and parties were always changing so it allowed me to learn how to make amazing cocktails and kept the work  quite exciting. I liked it because it was hard work with expectations and objectives to reach and I found it quite motivating. It always feels weird to go back there.

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Going out

I wasn’t used to go out that much when I was a student in France ! I felt like english students go out a lot ! It is probaly because there is always something going on in Oxford. You can go out every night if you want to. I was also surprised by the number of places to go out to compared to the my home city. My flatmates and I were used to go to Bridge on mondays and to Wahoo on wednesdays for Fuzzy Ducks. Other than clubs I have been to Purple Turtle many times. It’s un underground bar located in a little alley next to the Lush shop. The entry is free. There is a dance floor if you want to dance. It’s a quite cool place.

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Other than clubs I have obviously enjoyed the Slug & Lettuce cocktails (2 for 1) and DJ nights. The music and atmosphere were always great there even if it is not a place where students go. Any pub i a good place to have a drink really. We’ve been several times to the Joseph Perks & Co as it wasn’t far from our place but we also liked going to the Cowley Retreat.

I got the chance to go once to a concert in Oxford in the O2 Academy to see Gorgon City. The venue is nice and the concert was great. However I have to say that the audience was quite wild. Everybody was jumping and pushing each other so it got a bit annoying at some point. I wish I could have gone to another concert there though.

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To conclude, Oxford has changed me as a person and has just changed my life in so many ways. It obviously helped me to be confident when speaking in english but that’s probably the least important thing. I met there a quite special person and got the chance to enjoy so many great moments in his company in that magical city. I made great friends, had fun nights out, tried good restaurants and bars and finally discovered amazing and beautiful places. I always go back there each time i get the chance to because it has become a place I miss. I think you will get what I mean after reading this article and seeing all the pictures!

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