Equilibrium has been restored. England is, once again, pouring down with rain. However, no matter the weather, our Oxford trip was full steam ahead – after careful planning and meticulous organisation from our college managers, Reiss and Dylan, the Immerse students embarked on the long and winding two and a half hour trip to ‘the other place’- as disdainful, loyal Cambridge students often refer to our rival Oxford as. Many of our mentees were excited to see what the other half of ‘Oxbridge’ looked like, and how it would compare to Cambridge. Although mentors are fiercely loyal to their own Cambridge colleges, we encouraged the mentees to keep an open mind when touring the city, and to decide for themselves what they thought might be a ‘better fit’ for them.
After a quick lunch in Oxford, we assembled to begin our whistle-stop tour of the city, led by the mentors. The students were able to see the oldest bookshop in Europe, the Oxford version of the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ and of course, the iconic Radcliffe Camera and Bodleian Library. We learned about ‘All Souls College’, a somewhat mysterious college that only accepts senior academics with – rumour has it – one of the hardest entrance exams in the entire world. Much to our mentees’ amusement, we also passed the door that inspired C.S Lewis to write his ‘Narnia’ novels. Students were then able to have some free time following our tours – some took the chance to explore niche cafes and some of the oldest tea-rooms in Europe, whilst others decided to test their weight-lifting strength with bags of shopping lined on their arms. Our mentors also took the opportunity to celebrate Murray’s birthday, a fellow mentor at Sidney – as well as celebrating his acceptance onto a PhD programme at none other than Oxford University!
Our final stop in our Oxford trip was the stunning and historical Balliol College, for a chance to experience an Oxford formal. Students were treated to a decadent three course meal in one of Balliol’s finest halls, and the Catz and Sidney students were able to bond even further over dinner. Our photographer, Nanci, was also on hand to capture moments that our mentees are sure to look back on in the years ahead.
After a long day, we returned to Cambridge via coach – some students may have said they preferred Cambridge more, but all of them were glad they got a chance to cross over to the other side and see ‘the other place’!