Last Exam and a Movie Set in Oxford

Posted on June 15, 2007 by Holly Hayes
Part of: Graduate School in Oxford

I am finally all done with my master's degree! I still have the verbal defense of my dissertation coming up, but don't have to prepare much for it, so I am essentially free. Hooray!!! It feels really great.

My second exam went much better than my first and I even finished early this time, at 11:50 instead of the scheduled 12:30. That was actually unfortunate, because when it's your final exam you go out a special exit where people wait for you and cheer when you emerge, and David was going to be there for me. But I just couldn't sit in the exam room for 40 minutes doing nothing or I'd go crazy with boredom!

So I just wandered out the special exit by myself and waited for about 15 minutes until David showed up (early, bless his heart), and it was okay. The exit for the "finishers" is on Merton Street, which is one of the most picturesque streets in Oxford, so I just had a seat on a stone step and soaked it all up.

after exams

David was mighty disappointed that I didn't do the big exit, so he could cheer for me and take pictures, but he also understood. He took some pictures of me at the exit then we decided to wait around until 12:30 to watch everyone else come out. That was great fun. By the time 12:30 rolled around, there was a little crowd waiting outside with balloons and silly string and all kinds of mischief.

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There is a distinguished tradition at Oxford that you get your friend as messy and disgusting as possible after their final exam. I was not terribly interested in participating in that tradition, but enjoyed watching it. Some were very mild and just gave their friend a balloon or a plastic lei, while others dumped a bucket of water over their head, threw eggs, sprayed shaving cream, threw confetti, you name it.

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A Movie Set

We made our way through the center of town to have lunch, and on the way we stumbled upon a movie set! It was so fun. They were filming just a small scene with all extras, but it was still so cool.

The movie is The Golden Compass, an adaptation of a fairly popular fantasy-type book. The movie stars Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, but sadly they were nowhere to be seen. I believe they did their Oxford part many months ago - I remember reading about it and being upset I missed it!

The scene we watched being filmed was of a group of military men running down the lane between the Radcliffe Camera and Brasenose College. First they wet down the street with a fire-truck-like vehicle, then filmed two takes, then broke for lunch.

waiting soldiers and... action!

After the filming we were able to walk through the main set and look at the cameras and such. The fire-truck vehicle said Pinewood Studios on it! That's where James Bond and many other movies are filmed in the UK.

water-spreader-truck pinewood studios, hooray! IMG_1257 detail of camera track

A Celebratory Lunch

For lunch, David took me to the Old Parsonage Hotel, which is on the north side of town in the direction of our place, next to a very old church. The restaurant is built in the old parsonage, which had a date of 1628 over the door. In the introductory welcome speech I attended shortly after arriving in Oxford, I remember them saying the Old Parsonage is the place to take your parents when they come to town - especially if they're paying. I have also read that it has the best afternoon tea in Oxford, so we intended to have tea there.

Sadly, however, afternoon tea doesn't start until 3:00. So we settled for lunch instead, which was on a set menu and was not expensive at all. We sat outside under big canvas umbrellas and the meal was delicious.

post-exam lunch We both had butternut squash soup, served with a basket of walnut and rye breads with French butter, then David had poached salmon with Russian salad and I had an intriguing ravioli of beetroot, watercress and pinenuts. Both were very good!

Just as our main course arrived, the skies opened up and it absolutely poured. It also turned significantly colder, but we stuck it out outside along with one other hardy couple. It was good fun, and then we had the restaurant call us a taxi and so made it home nice and dry.

David is now napping happily and I'm tempted to join him, as my mind was too full of councils and bishops and dates last night to get much sleep. But I'm still fairly peppy from all of today's excitement so I'll try to just go to bed early tonight instead. I'm so thrilled I can now play with my photos and websites without feeling guilty that I should be studying! Yay!!