The City of Dreaming Spires – My Time Working For Oxford Summer Courses


Date of Publication: 06 September 2019

After a busy summer out and about on the courses, we asked one of our marketing interns, Bethan, about her time working for Oxford Summer Courses.


Having lived in Oxford all my life I had never thought much about the “city of dreaming spires” nickname given to Oxford before I got a chance to work there for Oxford Summer Courses. But once you begin to spend your days walking the pavements, weaving in and out of the tourists and commuters, the name suddenly makes sense. Where London has “streets paved of gold”, Oxford has dreams. People from around the world come to visit Oxford (9 million a year, to be exact), to all be a part of the history and the magic it has to offer. 

The best part of coming to the city for a summer course experience with Oxford Summer Courses is that you get to stay in college accommodation, have lessons in hundred-year-old lecture rooms and get an insight into the scholastic side of Oxford that general tourists don’t get to see. This makes your experience all the more enchanting; to be in the same libraries that Oscar Wilde and Tolkien browsed, you can walk into a lecture and think; ‘did Stephen Hawking study in here?’

Working as a marketing intern for Oxford Summer Courses gave me an insight into the experience students get, while being a “fly on the wall” – the person who silently comes and goes, taking pictures and Instagram stories… like a ninja with ‘boomerang’. This enables me to see the purest emotions of the students, the raw un-staged amazement when they walk into a college for the first time and see these gems that are hidden in plain sight around the city. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and that is the only way to describe the experiences that students have in Oxford.

Due to the small sizes of the classes at Oxford Summer Courses following the traditional Oxbridge technique, students not only get an insight into the colleges, but also get to experience what it would be like to learn as a student would. Having been in attendance of many lectures and seminars over the summer, it is clear that these small classes allow the students to have a closer rapport with the tutor, as well as being able to contribute more and help each other learn. This is reinforced by the glowing testimonials students leave before they go home at the end of the course, all of them saying that they learn better in smaller class sizes and are able to get a deeper understanding of the subject. 

Working with Oxford Summer Courses this summer has made me look at the city the way students and tourists do, the amazement and fascination at the hundred-year-old buildings, the secret basement at Blackwell’s bookshop and night-time snacks at G&Ds café (which stays open until midnight!)

I was able to be a tourist in my own city; an experience not many people get to do and one I wouldn’t have been able to do if it wasn’t for Oxford Summer Courses. I now see Oxford in a different light, and can truly understand why it’s referred to as the City of Dreaming Spires; even if you don’t have dreams when arriving to Oxford, the magic of the city will ensure you leave with them.

Have you studied with us in Oxford? Did you discover your dreams? Let us know – we love to hear your opinion!

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