On My Own – Reflection on Free Time in Oxford

July 24, 2023

Sneha Atluri | Kinesiology, Human Sciences and Education 

During my free time at Oxford, I had the best experience immersing myself in all the amazing things the city had to offer. More than anything, I ate so much and saw so many cool items as I explored. 

One of the big topics in our class was the Industrial Revolution that laid the groundwork for technological advancements in many fields including physics. These tools contributed so much to scientific research and allowed for even more developments to be made in the future by the smartest minds. Before meeting up for the Bodleian library, I got to see Albert Einstein’s blackboard that he had written on during a lecture at Oxford University at the History of Science Museum. It was covered in handwritten equations, and it was an insight into one of the greatest minds in history. As someone who loves science and history, seeing an item that was used and preserved by someone who I had always learned about was incredible. During one of our last days at Oxford, my friends and I got to punt. Going into this experience I was very excited, but I had no clue how to do it. Basically, you stand at the back of a boat and steer it with this huge metal stick. It was so much fun!

Moving on to food, Oxford has some of the best Middle Eastern food on this planet. At night when I would get hungry, I would walk down High Street and buy a lamb gyro that was the size of my head for only 5 pounds. It was so delicious that I would consume half of it by the time I got back to my dorm. By the end of this trip, my body will probably be 50% lamb shawarma. In addition to Middle Eastern food, no Oxford trip is complete without afternoon tea and indulging in some scones served with delicious jam and clotted cream. Eating scones was like being transported into Ideal Husband where I was participating in high societies teatime and dinner parties. The combination of warm dough, cream, and sweet jam was something I will search for when I am back home. 

Overall, my time in Oxford was filled with amazing experiences and delightful food. The combination of learning, eating, and looking at historical marvels was something I will never forget. I will leave Oxford with so many memories, a great appreciation for the academic and broad cultural heritage of this place, and a fun magnet to commemorate my time in this city,


Chalk board

Skyler Haag | Kinesiology, Human Sciences and Education

My free time in Oxford has been composed of so many things including exploring, eating, singing, and lengthy conversations with my previously known and newfound friends.  Though I could go on about the countless memories I’ve made so far on this trip I will try to focus on a few key points in what has made it so exceptional. One of the main bonding points on this trip for me has been food. My friends and I spent significant amounts of our free time searching online and walking through town in hopes to find the best pubs and restaurants. Some of my favorites have been the kebab truck, Cape of Good Hope, and The Mad Hatter. The kebab truck is the most reliable, cheap food we could get, and we found ourselves having many late nights on a walk down High Street to visit our friend with the kebabs. As for the Cape of Good Hope, the incredible food speaks for itself though the trivia night on Tuesdays truly made it unforgettable. We made friends with the table across us as we, team “TIGAZ” (me, Sneha, Sydney, charlotte, and Gareth), scrambled to figure out which one of the Beatles were barefoot on the cover of Abbey Road on Sydney’s shirt. One of the few nights that I think could compete with trivia night had to be karaoke night at The Mad Hatter. One day we stumbled across the door to The Mad Hatter and saw that on Thursdays they did karaoke. I saw this as an automatic sign that the entire group of 15 must go to watch each other sing. After sending a group message to everyone telling them the plan, we were all seen on Thursday night singing Mamma Mia, Alicia Keys, Billy Joel and more. This was the first activity outside of the planned events in which all 15 of the students hung out together and I felt that after that night the bond between all of us was considerably closer. In addition to the memories we’ve made eating copious amounts of food, I’ve really enjoyed the long walks and talks I’ve shared with my peers. Any time that I found myself sitting in my room with nothing to do, the go to plan was to explore. Typically, I’d send a message to a group chat saying I was going on a walk and somebody would respond and join me whether there was a destination or not. The great thing about being in a new place is that there is always more to find. Not only have I discovered new coffee shops and stores this way, but I’ve also learned so much about the history of Oxford and its colleges simply by observing the architecture, churches, and buildings around me. I’m so grateful for the things I’ve been able to learn and experience on this trip and do not think I could have had a better group of peers and professors to be with through it all.

Sitting in a courtyard


Gareth Oram | Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering

Despite the richness of the course itinerary, I have found that free time in Oxford has been abundant. The first week I was in Oxford, I spent most of my time (and energy) walking up and down High Street, the long and busy road that runs through the center of Oxford. Even though the walk became tiring very fast, four of my peers and I found countless places to visit. During the first week, we visited a few interesting restaurants. Our first truly British meal took place at a Nicholson’s Pub called “The Crown”, apparently famous for their pies. I enjoyed a chicken and mushroom pie while my group’s orders included a boar pie and fish n’ chips. Even though our meal was wonderful, the idea of eating classic British food became unattractive, so we started to find more diverse places to eat. One of the more memorable places we found was this take-out place called “Kebab Kid”. Although the service was horribly slow, the food was so good we were sure to return soon after our first visit. It posed stiff competition for the High Street kebab vans. Although I have yet to find a staple tea place on High Street, I very much enjoyed the tea and scones at the High Street Café, which was one of the shorter walks from our accommodation. 

Because of the ridiculous amount of exploring I did during my first week, I was much more familiar with the layout of Oxford for the rest of the trip. High Street became a staple, but eventually I went on walks that took me around Oxford without using High Street. My walks were much quieter and included some fabulous architecture and scenery. I also spotted some very nice cars along the way. One part of Oxford that I have really enjoyed is the shopping district. I am not an avid shopper, but the Covered Market and Westgate Shopping Center were very unique experiences. The Covered Market is a grid-layout market featuring many tiny shops that specialize in just about everything. The market is technically open air, but it has a roof over it to stop the rain. There are plenty of places to eat and even more places to buy gifts. Westgate Shopping Center is also open air and includes fabulous decorations and wonderful natural lighting. However, be warned that at Westgate it is seemingly impossible to find an affordable pair of basic men’s trousers. Regardless, I am now searching for the best priced Oxford University merch to buy for myself, and I recently bought a nice Oxford Uni Sweatshirt for my brother.