There is something in the water in Balliol College. Three Prime Ministers, numerous sportsmen, and a whole host of philosophers do not simply spring out of thin air. It can’t be denied: the combination of ancient halls (including a truly sumptuous dining hall), ancient academic excellence, and timeless beauty produces something special.
The next two weeks will be in exactly this vein. The ORA students at Balliol are studying an eclectic collection of subjects under some very experienced teachers, and the Balliol tradition of academic rigour will be in no danger. When they are not learning more about their chosen topics, the students will be able to explore Oxford –Balliol is set, like a jewel, in its heart— and grow new friendships with others who are passionate about learning. Outside the College, the students can look forward to trips to Hampton Court Palace and the marvellous musical The School of Rock— and, of course, there will be ample opportunity to discover the magic of punting along Oxford’s rivers. In the evenings, students will return to take supper in Balliol’s Harry Potter-esque hall: the hall used in the films is in fact located in Christ Church, which students will have the chance to visit, but presumably that is because the producers did not see Balliol’s before they booked it.
A brilliant two weeks of academic exploration, deep friendships and enormous fun is in store: the counsellors are ready with warm welcomes, the teachers are primed, and we can’t wait.