Thursday, June 23, 2011

Final Thoughts From Oxford

By Allen Page

Page on the beach of St. Malo in France
Well, it’s my last full day in Oxford.  This semester has been really great, and I am so glad that I got to study abroad – I’m especially thankful that our program is one that enables us, even as full time student-athletes, to participate in study abroad programs.  Having been away for so long, I’m really excited and rejuvenated to return to Davidson for this last year and for what promises to be a great season.

Notre Dame in Paris
The last few weeks of my stay here have been pretty action packed!  I think that I (and others) realized how little time we had left, because things had flown by so quickly, and decided that we needed to get all the traveling in that we could.  I went with three friends on the big trip to France that I had been looking forward to for a long time.  We went to Paris and got to eat a real French dinner with a real French family, which was great, along with doing all the great tourist things that Paris offers – the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, and the great museums.   Afterwards, we went up to the northern coast, and got to see the cool cities of St. Malo and Mont St. Michel.  We finished up our trip with a visit to the American Cemetery at the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, which was really cool as an American. 

I also got to take a shorter day trip to Bath.  I went by myself, just to get out of Oxford for a bit and see something new.  Bath is the location of the only natural hot spring in Britain, so it has been an attraction for (literally) thousands of years.  The Romans built a bathhouse and temple there, which was rediscovered relatively recently, and now it is turned into a museum where you can go and see what’s left of the ruins.

It wasn’t all travel though.  Sometimes, I just needed some time to catch up on Oxford.  I got to take a day and do a lot of cool stuff around the city, like visiting museums and touring some of the many colleges.  Magdalen College, for example, has a unique deer park inside its gates along with the more common college features like the massive chapel and many beautiful school buildings.  New College (which I believe dates to the 15th century – don’t quote me on that – and yet retains its title) is renowned for their choir, and I got to hear them perform a service, which was really cool.  Finally, the day ended with a meal and drink at the Turf Tavern, which is very likely the coolest bar or hang-out place I have ever been to.  That will probably be my last fish and chips for a long time.

Island Abbey of Mont St. Michel
My eighth-week tutorials marked the final academic challenges of junior year and witnessed the completion of the final of the eighteen papers I have written in these three months.  Talk about a lot of writing; I’m considering just combining all of them into a giant psychology/Shakespeare/modern literature dissertation … that’s legal right?  So, now I am officially a Davidson senior, which is really wild.  These college years have flown by so fast; I hope we can prolong this upcoming season as long as possible.

There hasn’t been much ado about soccer around these parts since the season ended.  A few stories about transfer rumors, a few tabloid scandals, but no real games to watch, and considering the Oxford students are swamped with exams, not much playing going on.  Last night though, I sat up until 2 a.m. and watched Freddy Adu (who would have thought?) guide USA into the Gold Cup final.  Mexico, here we come.  Also, at our last night at the house, we had a fun pickup game in the backyard, but I am looking very much forward to getting back in a real game again.  I can’t say I’m looking forward to the heat though, but I guess that’s the tradeoff.

Anyways, it’s been a pleasure sharing bits of my trip for you.  For those of you who ever have the chance to visit England, a trip to Oxford is definitely worth it.  It’s way cooler than London.  For my younger teammates, or future recruits.  If you have the opportunity to study abroad, I encourage you to be brave and try it.  I have missed playing soccer so much, but the time away has really motivated me to come back and do everything I can to make this season our best yet.  So, now, I get to travel for a few days in the Cinque Terra in Italy, and then it’s back to the States.  Even in Oxford, though, it’s a brilliant day to be a Wildcat. 

Signing off,

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