Oxford: Adventures in Kant, Rowing, and Scones

In this article, we catch up with Colin Burden, a Junior in Templeton who is studying abroad at Oxford University. Colin is a Philosophy and Chemistry-Business double major at Eastern, and is currently taking two philosophy tutorials during his time at Oxford. In addition to his studies, Colin is also a member of the Eastern University Men’s Golf team. Colin previously shared his expectations about studying abroad at Oxford, and he now updates us on his experiences across the pond thus far.

At Oxford, we have entered into the 6th week of our 8 week term, and essays, as well as university events, have begun to pick up. Throughout these six weeks, I have been impressed by the rigor of the tutorial system, the sheer fun of rowing, and the beautiful cities close to Oxford.

A picture of the cloisters at Westminster Abbey.

Both of my tutorials have already pushed me in ways that I had not expected or previously experienced. In each, I am assigned a weekly or bi-weekly reading list and related essay question, and aside from those guidelines, I am left to my own devices to research and understand the given authors and topics. Needless to say, I have had to re-read more sentences and paragraphs this term than I care to admit. While the struggle to comprehend the arguments of philosophers, such as Kant and Hegel, has been intellectually exhausting, it has also caused me to dig into intellectual systems foreign to my own. Through my tutorials, I have been pushed to struggle with difficult texts until they begin to make sense, and I have thankfully avoided having many existential crises along the way. Additionally, the exhaustive library system of Oxford has made this process possible, as I have had access to nearly every primary and secondary text I could ever need.

Aside from my studies, I have also joined my college row team for this term. I am a member of the Trinity men’s novice team. We have certainly looked like a novice team for our first couple of outings in the water, but with the addition of new coach, things have started to look up for us. Thankfully, our improvement is coming just in time for the all-novice race at Christ Church, which will take place in only one week. In addition to the fun of racing, rowing has been a wonderful experience that is very distinctive to Oxford. There is something very surreal about rowing down the river Isis with the picturesque spires of Oxford standing behind the colorful trees of the Christ Church meadows.

When I haven’t been rowing or studying, I have attended some formal dinners at college dining halls, as well as Evensong services at the awe-inspiring chapels, which are seemingly around every corner of Oxford. On various weekends this term, I have had the chance to visit the cities of London, Windsor, Bath, and Cambridge. In England, one can find an abundant amount of both ancient and modern history within only an hour-long bus ride. In each of these cites, I have been impressed by the beauty of the architecture. The history of England shines through in the age and grandeur of its buildings and chapels. Whether I have been on day trips to new cities or staying in Oxford, I have been humbled by the magnitude of both the political and religious history that surrounds me.

Amidst the adventures of travelling and studying in one of the best universities in the world, I have also developed a love for scones. Studying at a café with a warm scone and cup of tea is an experience that I highly recommend. Scones are simply better in England, especially when paired with house-made clotted cream and jam.

As the term draws near its end, I am looking forward to travelling to see more of Europe, especially Paris and Rome. However, before I leave to travel, I hope to spend the next couple of weeks enjoying where I am and finishing my studies well. Oxford is a city full of interesting people, rich history, and more books than I can fathom. This semester has already been full of memorable experiences, and I hope to continue discovering more of what Oxford has to offer in the time that I have remaining.

 

Colin Burden (’20) is a Templeton scholar double majoring in Philosophy and Chemistry Business. When he is not studying, Colin also plays golf on the Eastern University Men’s Golf Team.

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