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News > Old Boy News > An Adventure at Oxford

An Adventure at Oxford

A 2020 recipient of the Churchie Foundation 'Scholarship for Old Boys', Thomas Hassall (2015) recently attended the University of Oxford and has penned the following recollections of his experience.

5 Feb 2021
Old Boy News
Overpriced coffee:£3. Haircuts:£8. Punting on the River Cherwell:Priceless.
Overpriced coffee:£3. Haircuts:£8. Punting on the River Cherwell:Priceless.

To perform the research portion of my Honours year, I was fortunate to be accepted on an exchange scholarship to the University of Oxford which was offered by the University of Queensland’s School of Biomedical Sciences. I completed my study in Adaptive Optical Microscopy and was attached to the Synaptic Pharmacology and Dynamic Optics & Photonics labs. My work entailed building models to demonstrate how light might better propagate through tissue.

A university inside of a city, or a city inside of a university? It’s hard to escape the omnipresence of academia in a city such as Oxford. Everywhere you turn, there’s another plaque, another piece of history, another 500 year old building to behold.  At a time of increasing uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I left Brisbane on 1 March 2020. As it turns out, leaving any later would probably have resulted in a cancelled exchange. Experiencing a rare ‘tourist-free’ Oxford for a few months of my stay was a welcome silver lining not many can attest to experiencing.

I stayed in graduate accommodation at Magdalen College in central Oxford, before moving to Lincoln College in September. Founded in 1458, Magdalen College boasts having the tallest of the ‘dreaming spires of Oxford’. Its deer park accommodates almost 60 deer that roam the grounds.

Choirs and choral singing have been part of the warp and weft of academia for nearly 1,000 years. For you rowers – Oxford rowing bears only the faintest resemblance to the rowing traditions of Churchie.

For those who want to know more about Oxford, search the web or chat to Churchie’s very own Magdalen College School scholar, Father Bryan Gadd. I am very grateful for the assistance of the Churchie Foundation for this scholarship which has helped me to savour Oxford’s charming, rich and profound heritage. I’ll finish with an amusing sentiment conveyed by the president of Magdalen College about the pandemic: “There were five major epidemics in the 16th century and we managed to adapt then as we are doing now”. What’s a little pandemic in the face of 550 years of history!

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