Today held a mixture of excitement and sorrow for us, as it was the last full day that we of the ‘Baylor in Oxford’ group would have in Britain for the summer. Some bubbled with excitement, knowing that they would soon be returning to much-missed family and friends in the U.S; others were tinged with sorrow, dreading the thought of leaving behind such a rich and diverse culture. In any event, our group decided go out with one final ‘hurrah!’ by making a day-trip to Arthur’s Seat, a mountainous area in Scotland known for its panoramic views of near-by Edinburgh.
So, as we trekked, we learned from the hike-leaders that Arthur’s Seat may well have nothing to do with the King Arthur of lore; instead, the name “Arthur’s Seat” could be a corruption of ‘Archer’s Seat’, given that the mountain could provide archers a birds-eye view of nearby prey and enemies. We also learned that strange, human-like dolls were discovered in the mountain some time ago, likely a memorial for victims of infamous murders from the 18th-19th centuries. The mountain had even been referenced by author James Hogg in his work The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, a man who just so happened to be a friend of William Wordsworth.
After this brief overview of the Seat’s cultural background, we moved through staircase after staircase until eventually we reached the peak of the hill. Upon our arrival at the summit, we were treated to a resplendent view of urban Edinburgh, the surrounding country-side, and the distant Atlantic Ocean. We took the time to absorb this entrancing image, discuss amongst ourselves what we were going to miss about the United Kingdom, and what we looked forward to most in the upcoming semester at Baylor University. After some time, the faculty directed us to climb down from our perch and move towards a lower portion of the hill; they apparently had something to share with the group.
It turned out that the faculty wanted for us to hear each others’ final reflections on the Oxford trip as a whole. Rather then have each of us stand and endure the spotlight, they decided to recite what we had written in a reflections’ assignment regarding the trip, and to use these insights to wrap up our U.K. experiences. I personally found what the others had written in their reflections’ to be touching and heart-felt. It seemed to do justice to the poignant good-byes each of us will be (and are) making towards this wonderful land, even if that good-bye is not necessarily the final one. My consolation, hopefully, will be that the people I met during this experience won’t fade from my life. I would much prefer that, instead of going our separate ways, never to hear from one another again, we remain in contact so that part of the Oxford trip will continue to live on; namely, our friendships and bonds.
With this final entry, I conclude my remarks regarding Baylor University’s ‘Baylor in Oxford 2012′ program. I hope that my reflections and recollections have proved valuable to anyone choosing to read from them on this blog. At this point, I leave further analysis to those who make the journey after me, whether they be Baylor students or fellow human-beings; to quote former Baylor pres. Samuel Palmer Brooks, “To you I hand the torch.” Good luck, and may your own insights enrich your lives as much as my own have mine!