It’s my last week in Oxford. This week has been a whirlwind of communicating with grad schools, studying for finals, and trying to soak in every bit of Oxford that I can before I leave. Studying here has been such a good experience and it’s breaking my heart knowing that on Sunday at 4 AM I’ll be leaving England. Yesterday I was hitting my boiling point. AZ State needs my final decision about accepting or declining their program by the 15th (in two days). However, my application is still in review. Naturally, this is very frustrating. To make matters worse, the director has been trying to contact during the middle of the night my time. (Oxford and Tempe are a 8 hour difference.) I was melting from stress and lack of sleep so I decided I needed to get out of the dorms and take a nice long walk.
I walked all over Oxford. I’m sure that I walked at least five miles. I walked over a giant stone bridge and there below the bridge were punting boats in a gorgeous river with weeping willows spilling into it. There was a park next to the river with gardens that stretched as far as my eye could see. It looked so peaceful and which was the perfect foil to my scrambled brain.
I walked down the green slope and into a little visitors center. I found it costed 3.50 to go in but what the heck. As I walked in the doors I exhaled every negative feeling that had been building the past few days. I sat down on a bench and analyzed the map I had been given in the visitors center. The garden was divided into the “Walled Garden” and the “Lower Garden” as well as seven large glasshouses. The entire garden hosts 8,000 different plant species in all. I was so lost in my map that I didn’t notice that three ducks had waddled up to me and were literally sitting right at my feet. They were surprisingly friendly and splashed around in a rain puddle only a foot away from my bench. One especially friendly female came right up to my foot and inspected my black combat boots. The sun came out from behind a cloud and shone down on me. I closed my eyes and lifted my head to the sky. I felt so good in that moment.
The first glasshouse I went into was full of tropical plants and trees. There was a cotton plant which had a really neat description about how valuable the cotton plant is. It provides a many people their livelihood as well as providing millions with clothing. There were palms, vines, and tropical flowers. The air was humid and at least 90 degrees. I felt like I had been transported to a different continent and I was loving it. I could have stayed in there forever if I hadn’t decided to wear a sweater. I think my favorite part of the gardens was how empty they were! The entire time I was there I saw only four or five people! It was so relaxing to just have my earbuds in and walk around glasshouse to glasshouse, and around the paths in the outside gardens. It was very well designed because I didn’t necessarily try to follow a certain path through the garden. I just let myself wander and somehow I found myself at the exit around 5:00 which is their closing time.
These were plants from the Southwestern regions. I expected the glasshouse to have a very dry heat but surprisingly it wasn’t hot at all. It was very dry but probably only 60 degrees.
This is what you call an instant mood lift.
When I first got into the garden I wondered if it was weird to go by myself. It wasn’t. There is something so wonderful about walking through the greenery and flowers alone listening to music that makes you happy. I was left with my thoughts and for the first time all week they didn’t overwhelm me. The environment was so positive that I was able to logically sort out my thoughts and make plans to deal with grad school, travel, and finals plans. The only downside to being alone was the emabarrasing amount of selfies I took with plants. It would have been a lot more socially acceptable if someone else was there to take pictures for me. That wasn’t really an issue either though because like I said, there were only four or five people in the entire park.
It was a wonderful day.