Great Books at Oxford: Camper Emma Ward

By Emma Wardalice


The UK has been a holy grail of children’s literature for years, what with classics, such as The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, The Secret Garden, anything by Roald Dahl, and my personal favorite, Alice in Wonderland. These novels, along with some wildly popular contemporaries, namely, the Harry Potter series have shaped generations of young readers, instilling in them a sense of wonder, curiosity, and a touch of magic.

Needless to say, since my first visit, at the age of six, and my first encounter with the wonders of British literature prior to my visit, I have been hooked. Every time my parents asked for consultation on a trip location, my answer was always the same, London, and their answer was always the same, “Maybe next time.” While I waited for the next opportunity, I delved deep into the literary world, discovering J.R.R. Tolkien, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Oscar Wilde, Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, and so many more amazing authors that changed the way I looked at the world.

In 2012, it seemed that the whole world was focused on the UK, “Sherlock” was returning for its second season, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were married, and the Olympics were held in London, and in this flurry of activity, I was as far away as ever. The next summer I was determined to find a way back to England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, even some tiny island of the coast, I wasn’t picky, and then everything came together and I found exactly what I was looking for, The Great Books Summer Program in Oxford. I literally counted down the days until our departure, and was ready to go a week before we left Chicago, and Oxford did not disappoint.

Among the classes and lectures, the outings, and all the time to just wander Oxford, I quickly made friends, and enjoyed simply being in a different country. It was the perfect amount of time to be away from home, and I enjoyed being around people who were as truly interested in literature as I am. Through touring the countryside, London, Stratford-on-the Avon, and simply wandering Oxford, I couldn’t soak up enough of the country to sustain me for very long.  I wouldn’t have traded a moment of it for anything else and have become even more fervent in my search for an international university.

My summer in Oxford was full of the most amazing people, the most amazing places, and most of all, the most amazing literature and learning experiences to be had.


If you are ages 14-18 and looking for an adventure this summer like Emma’s, go to our website and find out more about Great Books at Oxford for this summer.

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