A day of sightseeing in London!

With gorgeous weather all day, Summerfuel students headed in to see some of the iconic sights of London.  Students had the chance to witness the changing of the guard’s march up to Buckingham Palace, see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, and hear a bit about Westminster Abbey, all led by official blue badge tour guides.  The tour guide on one of our coaches has been giving tours for 30 years and knew all kinds of fascinating details about the creation and changing face of London.

After our walking and bus tour, we spent some time in the Covent Garden Market where students had a chance to get lunch in small groups and look at some of the little shops and stores in the area.  Students and staff ate at all kinds of restaurants, from little French bistros, to specialty healthy-focused restaurants, to Nando’s.

Tonight was our annual pub trivia contest, this year hosted by RA Cameron.  Some of the categories included questions about Oxford, song lyrics, and more!

Tomorrow is our second excursion: Blenheim Palace.  Stay posted here for more updates and pictures!

– The Oxford Team

Meet the RA Team

As Oxford students are getting ready to go, the Summerfuel RAs are working hard to get everything organized, planned, and set up for the big arrival. Some of them have even been practicing their punting skills for many afternoon activities on the River Cherwell! Since they know which students they’ll get in their group, it’s only fair we give you some info about them:

  • Cameron is from Cleveland, Ohio where he studies Arts Management, Music, and Spanish. An avid musician, writer, and adventurer, Cameron loves a good joke and a hearty laugh. Cameron is very familiar with the UK, having spent six months studying in York and travelling to various places in Europe. Cameron has years of experience in residence life, student affairs, and group facilitation. He is passionate about connecting others with new places, people, and ideas. Cameron believes that travelling is one of the best ways to engage with the world, with others, and with oneself, and he is very excited to encourage and support Summerfuel Oxford 2017 students as they embark on their journey with this program.
  • Laura was born and raised in Surrey, just outside of London. She has just completed her bachelor’s degree in Geography at the University of Birmingham. As part of her degree she spent a year studying at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Laura is returning to Summerfuel Oxford for her second year, and she loves to travel and explore new places, as well as learn about new cultures.
  • Katie comes from Limerick, in Ireland. She completed a bachelor’s degree in Law and French, during which time she studied at the University of Strasbourg, France for a year. She has just finished her masters in Intellectual Property Law at Trinity College Dublin. She loves reading and learning and this is her second year as an RA at Oxford.
  • Kevin grew up in Connecticut. He attended Colgate University where he majored in French literature. He taught fifth grade for two years and will be teaching French at a boarding school beginning in August. Kevin is yet another Oxford returner, and he enjoys traveling, reading and all things New York Mets.
  •  Tori is a recent college grad with a degree in Social Science History Teaching and a minor in History. Tori currently lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota with her goldendoodle Bear and works at Augustana University. In her free time, Tori likes exploring the trails with her dog and reading. Tori previously lived in Dublin, Ireland, and is excited to spend the summer in Oxford!
  • Carly is an English teacher from the Minneapolis area in Minnesota. She enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family. Carly did her student teaching in England and is excited to share her love of this country with more students!
  •  Alice studied Western Classical music in Ireland and Belgium graduating in 2012. Since then she has spent two years teaching at an alternative kindergarten/conservatory in Paris, France and three years travelling: first in Europe and then in Asia. She is a certified yoga teacher and loves to be creative, keeps a journal, paints watercolours, adores dogs and is interested in sustainable living/natural medicine.


Writing Contest Winner – Away from Home

This summer we hosted a writing contest on the theme “Away from Home.”  There were many submissions, from reflections on what home really means, to discussion of the quirks of Britain compared to their own homes.

After reading all the submissions, the committee chose the following poem as the winner of the 2016 competition.  We hope you enjoy this submission from Maggie S.

Away from Home

I’m home

I don’t want to leave

my friends and family

but I’m excited to see

a foreign place

my home will feel like

a thousand miles away

I’m sad to go

away from my mom and dad.

no longer

I’m confident and


I can do it but

I don’t know if

where I’m going will ever completely feel like home

and don’t try to tell me

time flies



dragging on and on

the goodbyes are

a month away.

I can’t believe it has been

the best month of my life.


Now read from bottom to top

Going Home

Today was an emotional day as all the students made their way back to their friends and families. As both escorted flights touched down in their respective destinations, students have been sharing Snapchats and Instagram posts to remind themselves of their fantastic summer abroad.

Meanwhile, the journey continues for our intrepid Parisian explorers, who took a river cruise on the Seine and had a group dinner together. Stay tuned for more updates from Paris!

Final Dinner – Jazz by Candlelight

Last night, the students were treated to a formal dinner in the LMH dining hall. Traditionally, Oxford students wear formal dress and gowns to these meals, and our students looked just as sharp in their shirts and ties and dresses! Every student got a group photo for their friends to sign and write notes on while a jazz band played some of their greatest standards, led by John Rolfe (our Oxford Art & Architecture teacher). We all enjoyed a three-course meal by candlelight and took plenty of pictures together before heading to view the students’ final projects in photography, art, and more.

After that, it was time to celebrate our summer together by viewing some of the talent that is so abundant in this group! Preston played the piano, Artur orated, Madison made us move to the sound of her voice, and everyone took part in some choice group karaoke. We also recognized the students’ academic achievements, for students attending all three seminars and students especially chosen by their teachers. There were many tears at the end of the night, but we will remember it for a long time to come!

Last Week Roundup

As the final day approaches and we start to feel sentimental, we thought we’d take a look at some of the activities of the last week.

After an exciting programme of classes and activities, students chilled out on Friday night. Pyjamas, face-masks, nail painting and a movie were the order of the evening. By the end of the night we were all fresh-faced and ready for the final week.

Monday saw the highly-anticipated Staff-Student Soccer Championship. It was a close call, but not as close as the staff would’ve liked! Despite the sweltering heat, the student team put in a great performance and emerged victorious.

The sun continued to shine on Wednesday for the annual rocket launch. Summerfuel’s best and brightest assembled to build and launch their own rockets. Despite some challenging engineering, every one went off without a hitch.

Meanwhile, high inside the towers of Toynbee, students raced against the clock to solve the puzzles of the Escape Room. Of ten teams who tried it, four beat the 45 minute time limit, with the fastest team taking just over 15 minutes to reach the goal!

Now, on to the excitement of the final dinner and a showcase of the best talent Summerfuel has on offer. Stay tuned!

Final Summerfuel Dance

We’ve had so much going on in the last few days, and it’s all culminated with the final Summerfuel dance! The RAs set up a summer festival in our very own gardens, and the students danced to a playlist of songs they chose throughout the program. Many selfies were taken, many snaps were chatted, and everyone had a great time. We look forward to the bittersweet final dinner tomorrow!

Shakespeare in the Park

The city of Oxford is filled with vibrant opportunities to ponder the works of Shakespeare for his 400th anniversary.  A group of students decided to enjoy today’s particularly sunny weather and celebrate Shakespeare’s legacy by watching Hamlet in the park!  The play was performed right next door to Lady Margaret Hall in the 74 acres of the University Parks.  The play was a modern interpretation by Creation Theatre.  The overall aesthetic was rooted in Steampunk culture, a type of science fantasy inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.  The feel was similar to a punk circus, complete with a grave digger clown.

Although the look of the play was clearly contemporary, the actors stayed true to the old English script.  Some of the students were familiar with Hamlet, others were not, but all were able to engage with this approachable interpretation.  A particular student favorite was the use of current music: the final scene closed with Muse.