Oxford: City of Dreaming Spires

It is an extraordinary day, when the reborn sunlight mercifully shone over this English town. When the constantly wet paths reunite with the plain warmth of care, the meadows and the soil tilt together... Dot, dot, dot.

Dashes, dots, disfigured shapes... Strolling forward, fascinated; wandering backward, bewildered at the sight, where the silent spires of Oxford savour their sensations in the dusking drizzles...

Emotions are heightened, indeed -- tiptoeing on the thin streams of raindrops, the flossy dark hair swings, moisturised; tip, top, tip, tap... And now, my shoes -- the elegant flats, dark coloured -- are embraced by the gentle greetings of the playful raindrops. Ti, ta, ti, ta... Sweet smiles and wane whistles. Ti, ta, tip, tap...

The gentle breathings of the summer breeze embraced me. Strolling. Admiring. Inspired... Not only is the city renowned for its world-leading University, but it is also fabulously contemporary.

With its academic excellence fully recognised worldwide, the University of Oxford has educated 47 Nobel Prize winners and 26 British Prime Ministers. Amongst its remarkable alumni are John Locke, T S Elliot, C S Lewis, Aldous Huxley, Stephen Hawking and Bill Clinton. Be inspired, as we walk around the eminent quadrangles in the colleges - from the ancient Merton College to the modern St. Catherine's College.

'Truth is Strength'. As suggested by the motto, the scholars of Oxford have been in search of truth. The Oxford University Press bookstore stands on the High Street, as a witness to the city's past, present and future glories. A research university, the University of Oxford aims to make significant contributions globally through its intensity, breadth, quality and impact. With a substantial number of researchers, consisting of postgraduate students, college academic faculty, research support fellows and administrators, 48 fields of study are thoroughly covered, from current social challenges to studies of ancient civilisations. Amongst the vast resources, the Bodleian Library is the second largest library in the United Kingdom after the British Library. With the not inconsiderable length of 120 miles of occupied shelves, 2490 places for eager readers and 29 reading rooms, the Library here forms only a part of the Bodleian libraries, which hail from Catte Street.

Indeed, so many works of fiction have been enlivened by this wonderland, including the those eminent tales of 'Alice in Wonderland', 'the Golden Compass', 'When Greek Meets Greek', and 'Harry Potter'. One of the largest colleges, Christ Church's enigmatic ambience makes a perfect filming location for the Harry Potter series. Grateful to seize the opportunity to indulge myself in the magical atmosphere which I have always cherished, I had the pleasure of visiting the splendid Christ Church.

Imagined as Harry Potter's fantastical world, Christ Church is also the college where a math tutor named Charles Dogson lived. Although one may not be particularly familiar with the name, Charles Dogson is better known as 'Lewis Carroll'- yes, the writer of 'Alice in Wonderland'. As the College is located on St. Aldate's Street, it is no wonder that 'Alice's Shop' is just opposite it.

Historically unique, Christ Church Chapel, dating back to the twelfth-century, is the only college chapel in the world that is also a cathedral. For a moment, imagine yourself as one of the fortunate students there - dining in a classic yet modern Dining Hall, reading in the mysteriously sophisticated Libraries, and following in the footsteps of famous alumni; how would you rejoice at your situation?

Excitement and intense curiosity accompanied me to step into the dream place of generations of scholars. From the depths of my soul, inspiration was calling... Rays of sunlight slipped through the windows; rows of plates lay on the tables. Pounding with great exhilaration, my heart relished the hospitality demonstrated by the Dining Hall. Every night in my dreams, I have seen thee, I have felt thee as if I have been here. Now, I have crossed the sacred European pathways to reach my dream destination - the University of Oxford. The fragrance of the air dissolves the chilling weather, and the feast provoked my hunger...

Just as the appetite of curiosity is satiated, the technological advancements also shed light on the modern side of this English city. Historically and educationally absorbing, Oxford meanwhile entertains both residents and visitors with its contemporary attractions.

For thirsty milkshake lovers, a humble little store called 'Moo Moo's' is located in the Covered Market, not far from St. Peters' College, where I resided for two weeks during a summer programme. With a friendly-looking cow as its logo, the family-owned store is extremely popular in the city, dazzling its customers with nearly a hundred ingredients, allowing them to create their own unique milkshakes.

Ben's Cookies, the neighbour of 'Moo Moo's', has a sizeable reputation for these freshly baked delights. Be sure to try their double / triple chocolate cookies when you arrive in Oxford - they are crispy and warm! Visit their website and look at the orbiting cookies and other innovatively-designed animations at http://www.benscookies.com/. With more than fifteen locations in the UK, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Ben's Cookies has happily celebrated its 17th year baking delicious cookies! Of course, the store in the Covered Market is the original one, and I was lucky enough to get a bite before watching the latest Harry Potter movie, right after a visit to Christ Church.

Footsteps of history, closer, closer, closer... Rays of sunlight, rejoice, as they focus on that single spot on the map.

A tiny spot it is. The very place of my ambitious dreams, the destination of the soul's enchantment.

Heartbeats, poundings; heartbeats, poundings; heart beats... slowly, slowly...

It is an extraordinary day, when the reborn sunlight mercifully shone over this English town. When the constantly wet paths reunite with the plain warmth of care, the meadows and the soil tilt together... Dot, dot, dot.

No raindrops.


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