Oxford: Adventures in Kant, Rowing, and Scones

In this article, we catch up with Colin Burden, a Junior in Templeton who just returned from studying abroad at Oxford University. Colin is a Philosophy and Chemistry-Business double major at Eastern, and he took 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 coming back to the States.

At Oxford,  I was 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 was assigned a weekly or bi-weekly reading list and related essay question, and aside from those guidelines, I was left to my own devices to research and understand the given authors and topics. Needless to say, I 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, was intellectually exhausting, it 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 made this process possible, as I had access to nearly every primary and secondary text I could ever need.

Aside from my studies, I also joined my college row team for this term. I was a member of the Trinity men’s novice team. We certainly looked like a novice team for our first couple of outings in the water, but with the addition of a new coach, things improved.  Thankfully, our improvement came just in time for the all-novice race at Christ Church.  In addition to the fun of racing, rowing was 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 wasn’t rowing or studying, I 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 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 was on day trips to new cities or staying in Oxford, I was humbled by the magnitude of both the political and religious history that surrounded me.

Amidst the adventures of travelling and studying in one of the best universities in the world, I 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.

Looking back on my term at Oxford, I am so grateful that Oxford is a city full of interesting people, rich history, and more books than I can fathom. This semester was full of memorable experiences, and I loved discovering what Oxford has to offer in the time that I studied there.


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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