About our writer
Mark O’Brien is an undergraduate at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge, and studies Philosophy. A veteran Mentor of Cambridge Immerse 2016, he loved it so much he decided to take part again this year.
He will be spending his time this year making friends, practicing his punting technique, and inevitably debating why Cambridge is better than Oxford with students.
Saturday 29th July 2017
Today, we had our first excursion. The students took a trip to Oxford, the 2nd best university in the UK (according to some…), but still known by students to be above that of St. John’s college, Cambridge (alluded to in the student song, ‘I’d rather be at Oxford than St. Johns’).
The day started gloomily with an early coach journey and a lot of rain, but this didn’t hamper the enthusiasm of the students who were happy to wade through the crowds of tourists to grab some lunch before heading towards Christ Church college for a tour of the ancient colleges. The tours detailed the age-old rivalry between the two universities, many odd stories and traditions of the colleges, and was generally found to be enjoyable by students (despite the fact that Cambridge Mentors couldn’t help but add snide comments here and there).
The students were let loose to explore Oxford for an hour or two – with many going to Blackwell’s, an old book shop founded in 1879 that has greeted many of the famous alumni of Oxford. Others explored the covered market and other colleges in Oxford, gaining an insight into the lives of the lesser-spotted university student.
The day trip finished with a formal meal in Balliol college – its Hall is unusual in that it has visibly stone walls as well as a fire place, but it had an ominously Gothic beauty nonetheless. The formals, a tradition of both Cambridge and Oxford Universities, were enjoyed by the participants as they ate a three-course dinner with roast chicken and (calorifically delicious) brownies, in one of the most exclusive dining areas in the UK.
Finally, with several coach loads of exhausted students, we made our way back to Cambridge to get some much needed rest before another busy trip to London the following day.