Week 1 was packed full of British fun and culture for ORA students staying at Merton College.
The major excursion this week for ORA students at Merton was to the impressive Blenheim Palace. This exceptional example of Baroque architecture from the early 18th Century nestles in the heart of Oxfordshire and was home to the 12th Duke of Marlborough. Notably, the Palace was the birthplace of the famous British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, who navigated Britain through the turbulent events of World War II. The importance of Blenheim Palace is highlighted by its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site from 1987, so it was a great chance for ORA students to witness a historically rich site.
As they wandered through the Palace with audio guides providing the essential information, students enjoyed attempting to copy the poses displayed in awe-inspiring pieces of art and sculpture. Check out the photos below to see some of the hilarious results – we particularly enjoyed the efforts to mimic the expression on the bust!
Having explored the incredible Palace, pupils took to the gardens to appreciate the amazing plants and landscaping. The large ornamental fountains were cooling to watch on a sunny day and everyone enjoyed spending some time outdoors in such a beautiful location.
Having soaked up culture and history at Blenheim Palace, it was time for pupils to experience another British tradition: pub trips. As a fundamental element of British society, a trip to the pub was definitely something our pupils wanted to try! They had a merry time visiting a few of these establishments for the first time and trying a pint in typical British style.
To top off their experience of all things British, students had the chance to play a game of croquet on the College Lawn. With croquet mallets in hand, pupils whacked, pushed and hit balls through hoops in an effort to win this quirky British game. Many liked the ambling pace of croquet and relaxed as they played, whilst others revealed competitive streaks as they tried hard to win quickly. All in all, it was a lovely way for our students to enjoy the sun outside and they definitely had fun whilst doing so.
Dinner at Malmaison
With so many activities keeping them occupied, ORA pupils at Merton were treated to a delicious and relaxing meal at Malmaison in Oxford. This boutique hotel has a modern, fresh style and provided the perfect setting for our pupils to unwind and enjoy good conversation and delicious food. It was definitely a well-deserved way to enjoy the end of week 1.
Week 2 is already underway for ORA students studying at Merton, so keep an eye out to see what they get up to in the coming days.