I am in love with Oxford. It's only been a week, but this place is so beautiful, I wish I could stay forever. The town is filled with so many gorgeous old buildings, rich with history. There's so much to do and see, I've barely had a quiet moment all week.
The first night we had orientation and then reception drinks, where we got to meet our tutors and the other students. I did manage to make a fool of myself and trip as I came down the stairs into orientation, so I made a solid first impression. The reception went much smoother. One of my tutors, Julie Hearn, rounded up all of our Young Adult Fiction class, so that we could all get to know each other before we started, which was really good, because we could then go to dinner together, and have some friendly faces to see the next morning. Everyone has been so lovely, I'm not sure if I've just gotten lucky and only met the best of the bunch so far. The classes themselves - two two-hour seminars a week - have been wonderful. The tutors read all our applications, and we only have about seven or eight in our class, so it feels quite personal, and direct. We are learning what we need to learn, what we hadn't really gotten yet back home.
Each day there is a plenary session that everyone has to attend, which is a lecture from someone who is published in a certain area. This week we had Nicholas McInerny, who spoke about TV series and scriptwriting; Julie Hearn, who spoke about young adult fiction; Noel White, who spoke about biographies; Darren Ormandy, who spoke about short films; and Matthew Barton who spoke about poetry. They were all really good, and really knew what they were talking about, but my favourites were Julie, Nicholas, and Darren - but I could be biased, because those are my areas of interest.
The Monday night, a couple of the summer school assistants, Joe and Nat, took us on a small walking tour of Oxford, showing us where all the shops and pubs are, and other places we might need to find. Tuesday night was an open mic night, and it was there that we got to see some truly amazing writers on this course. They were all fantastic. There were drinks with the director, Tara Stubbs, on either the Monday or Wednesday - we were split into two groups to make it more intimate, and easier for her to talk to everyone. Thursday night there was a quiz held by two assistants, Richard and Nat, and Lulu, who runs the bar. We had a team of Aussies, and we did not stop laughing the whole time. We came last, but we had so much fun with it that we didn't even care. On Thursday and Friday, we were able to sign up for a guided tour of Oxford, where we walked around to some of the colleges, and were told some of the history behind them and Exeter.
On Saturday we went on a day trip to Bath, which was beautiful. The first thing we saw was the Roman Baths, which were incredible. They were so big, and beautiful, and filled with so much history. You don't get that sort of thing in Australia. Then we walked around and looked at all the beautiful buildings, parks, and the river. We went and saw the Circus, which was gorgeous, and somewhere I've always wanted to go see. It doesn't sound like we did a lot when I write it down, but the whole place was just stunning to walk around - there was always a view. By the time we got back to the bus, everyone was so exhausted that I think we all fell asleep at some point during the two hour journey.
On Sunday, a few of us tried punting, and were surprisingly not terrible. For those who don't know (like I didn't), punting is when you go along the river in a boat, sort of like a gondola but with a flat bottom so that it doesn't tip, and instead of a paddle, you have this massive metal pole which you drop to the ground, and push yourself along that way. We decided it would be easier to get a chauffeured one, at least to start with, which was a really good decision. It was a lot less stressful, and he gave us all a go at it. After that we went to the botanic gardens, which were beautiful, especially since it was a lovely sunny day. Then we went back to college and a group of us did some work in the Fellows Garden before dinner. Then ice cream at G&D's, which is apparently the place to go in Oxford.
All in all, it was a fantastic week. There was so much packed into such a short amount of time. I can't wait to see what the next week brings!