Cherwell House Summer Blogs

Sunday 14th to Saturday 27th July 2019

Friday 26th July 2019


Our final full day as a group here at Cherwell started with something a little different. Our students’ final lesson with their tutors (Class X, as we like to call it), saw them all experience something a little different. In the spirit of giving the students a real insight into the field they’ve been exploring for the last two weeks, they visited labs, completed mini challenges or applied their skills in a new way.

We then spent the afternoon packing up and spending some final free time with our friends, before heading to the graduation ceremony. We had some wonderful performances, with Chloe treating us to a song on her ukulele and Stevie sharing a piece of fiction she had written as part of our Discover Writing course. Danielle and Gia also shared a video they had made of their two weeks with us.

We had some brilliant subject speakers during the ceremony, as well as our Valedictorian Ruth. She eloquently summed up her summer with us, and expressed her genuine affection for the friends she has made here.



After the ceremony, we had a barbecue in true OSA style, before heading to our Ceilidh. Perhaps the fixture of the summer school which most mystifies our students, it also always turns out to be one of the most fun parts of the fortnight. With a live band and professional caller, we were walked through several traditional Gaelic dances, originating in various parts of Scotland, Ireland and even some Welsh moves. It would be impossible to mention the Ceilidh without giving a nod to Kelvin, Brian and Wayne’s commitment and enthusiasm throughout!

For one last time, we walked back to the house for evening briefing and headed to bed.


Thursday 25th July 2019


The second Thursday of our programme here at OSA sees our students take part in something really special. After class, independent study and lunch as usual, we headed as a group to the historic Oxford Union.

With its history for hosting prestigious speakers dating right back to 1823, and including names from Ronald Reagan to Sir Elton John, it’s an amazing opportunity for our students to take part in our debating event.



We kicked off the afternoon with two workshops; one covered the importance of effective dialogue and non-violent communication, while the other saw us try our hands at debating. Caden used his dialogue skills to make Tijs agree that flying is a superior superpower to being invisible, while Gia and Liv role-played an argument which imagined a dramatic boyfriend theft within the masterclass.



After burritos for dinner, we entered the prestigious Union chamber to support our finalists Nadia and Deep. They argued as part of the opening opposition and closing government respectively, discussing whether the wealthy should be allowed to represent the people by taking public office. 


After such an exciting opportunity, we were all in high spirits as we headed back to Cherwell ahead of our last full day together here at OSA.





Wednesday 24th July 2019


Another Wednesday means another trip day. Unlike with Windsor, however, our shorter journey to Blenheim Palace meant that we could attend class and complete our independent study in the morning as usual. Munique shared how the Enterprise class were learning about management styles today, and which were the most effective.



Straight after the second study slot, we boarded coaches which took us the half an hour journey to the ancestral home of the Duke of Marlborough, and the birthplace of Winston Churchill. Mohammed was particularly impressed by the ornate decoration and grandeur of the property, while Tanushree listened avidly to each historical fact given by the audio guide. We also had plenty of free time to explore the grounds and enjoy the sunshine. Eliza, one of our ACs here at Cherwell, was particularly knowledgeable since her father played an important part in the restoration of the grounds as Capability Brown first designed them for the 4th Duke in 1764.



After dinner back at the house, lots of house points were earned in our signature house night, the Silly Olympics. A collection of party games, many including food, were played with varying levels of success. The English summer made the After Eight challenge a bit messier than it could have been, with melted chocolate featuring prominently on faces. Sahar, Raghav and Kelvin impressed our ACs with their skill in this particular one, although eating dounts from a string proved a little more difficult all round.






We had such a fun-filled day, and look forward to making the most of the weather the UK is expecting tomorrow!




Tuesday 23rd July 2019


Well in the swing of things by now, our students headed to class and completed their independent study this morning as usual. Our Young Engineers wowed the team here at Cherwell with their pneumatic hands! Everyone headed to lunch as usual, before meeting at the Blavatnik School of Government (where lots of classes take place) to walk to Cherwell Boat House.



Right on the River Cherwell, this was where we fulfilled our next Oxford tradition. Punting is a mode of river travel not unlike the gondola, and is a quintessential leisure activity at both Oxford and Cambridge universities. While some students relaxed and just enjoyed the ride, others were keen to give it a go themselves. Kyle and Quinten took a slightly back-to-front approach, but enjoyed success nonetheless, while Stevie and Katherine were, in all fairness, as good at getting out of low-hanging branches as they were getting into them! 




Once we were all back ashore, we joined students from the other OSA houses at Wolfson College, an Oxford University establishment dedicated to post-graduate study, for a wonderful barbecue followed by some games. 

To wrap up a wonderful day, we were treated to a Conquering Happiness masterclass with renowned Oxford philosopher Michael Plant. As well as talking us through some great historical perspectives on happiness and challenging our pre-existing ideas of what can make us happy, he shared some interesting new research on the things that really make us happy.


Katherine and Nadia, our students who have already been with us for two weeks and so had already experienced our Happiness Masterclass, were treated to a “Mind Sports” talk. They learned the Sherlock Holmesian method of mind palaces, amongst other things.

Rather tired by such an active afternoon in the sun and looking forward to our trip to Winston Churchill’s ancestral home Blenheim Palace on Wednesday afternoon, everyone called it a day and headed to sleep.








Monday 22nd July 2019


We kicked off the working week with a return to classes and Independent Study this morning, before a nice lunch break in Oxford centre. Our Discover Medicine students have each been researching different progressive diseases, while our writers have produced some wonderful magazines.

After lunch we were treated to success masterclasses, with one group choosing to learn how best to turn failure into success, while others opted to look at successful beginnings. Both went down a treat!

We returned to Cherwell for dinner, then settled into the common room for another sparkling event. OSA’s Got Talent is an opportunity for our students to celebrate each others abilities outside of the classroom, and we were all blown away by both the number of acts and their quality.

We had comedy from Charles and Samyak, both of whom put a national twist on their sets, while Mira and Liv blew us away with renditions of Titanium and Take Me To Church respectively. Chloe brought her ukulele all the way from the US to give us a performance of Riptide, before Kelvin demonstrated the rather more dubious talent of drinking a glass and a half of water. Gia sang We Can’t Stop beautifully, while Danielle, Daniela, Carl and Lucas danced along behind her in an impressively polished production. In the same dancing vein, Munique, Ruth, Kate, Shreya and Isabel performed a beautifully-choreographed commercial routine for us.

Farida was our voluntary MC for the night, and did a far better job than our staff members Jessie and Sophie could have done! She also announced the results which (after a lot of very difficult deliberation) our judges decided as the following:

  • Gia, Daniela, Danielle, Carl and Lucas (8 house points)
  • Chloe (5 house points)
  • Samyak (3 house points)

All of our other participants earned a house point each, as they really were all winners in our eyes!

We then enjoyed some free time before heading to bed in order to be well-rested for punting tomorrow morning!

Sunday 21st July 2019


Perhaps the most-anticipated fixture of the OSA calendar, this evening saw our students get all dressed up for an evening of partying at our ball on the Thames. First, however, almost everyone took the opportunity to have a lie-in, with only Caden and Carla appearing for breakfast before 8am.

The rest of the group joined us, however, for brunch in Corpus Christi College’s formal hall. Established in 1517, Corpus is one of Oxford University’s most famous colleges, and our students particularly enjoyed the brunch-time scenery. Kate could perhaps be said to have enjoyed the food a little more than the surroundings, though, as she opted for a rather impressive three course setup!



The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to free time, with some of our students opting to go to London, while others enjoyed further exploring our local environs. Our wonderful AC Brendan also took a group of students on a short train journey to the Bicester Village outlet complex, and more than a few shopping bags returned with them!

For dinner, we were treated to a house takeaway, with the lovely people of Dominos providing us with 25 large pizzas – which didn’t last as long as you’d think! Katherine and Stevie, who opted for their own Pizza Pilgrims dinner instead, still helped us along with carrying the feast indoors.

The OSA Ball was a wonderful way to round off the weekend! Charles shared his impressive knowledge of locks with the group as the boat passed through the one at Iffley, while Chloe taught us her signature shuffle dance move. The 2012 classic song “Gangnam Style” got everyone dancing, as did “We Will Rock You”.

After returning to the house and polishing off the pizza, everyone was keen to get some sleep ahead of class in the morning!


Saturday 20th July 2019


This morning saw our students take part in hero sessions, which gave us the opportunity to speak to people working in our chosen field, but in unexpected or unconventional ways.

Our Business and Enterprise hero George, who is currently completing his MBA qualification after a career in professional rugby. He taught our group the importance of good leadership, as well as encouraging us to overcome our fears. Thomas, Quinten, Tijs, Munique and Kyle were all especially impressed by the talk, and stayed behind to talk with him more afterwards.

Our medical students spoke with Yvonne, an epidemiologist who shared the qualities needed to be a good doctor, as well as explaining more about her particular field of illness prevention, rather than treatment.

The rest of the day before dinner was dedicated to free time, which allowed for some well-deserved relaxation time after such a busy schedule this week! Some of our students opted to visit Oxford’s best-known museums with Eliza and Brendan, who even made a stop at the famous Fudge Kitchen, and were given a demonstration of how the sweet treat is made.


We came back together as a house for Quiz Night, which saw lots of house points won. First place was taken by Naartjie Nations, while Team Athena and the A&Os came in second and third respectively.


A group of us then settled down for movie night take two, with Notting Hill winning the popular vote, and duvets being brought down to make everything a little cosier. Again, we all headed to bed ahead of a busy day exploring Oxford tomorrow!



Friday 19th July 2019


As our students are now very much in the OSA swing of things, the morning of class and independent study seemed to fly by! The Engineering students began by making hydraulic arms from just paper, straws and syringes. Deep was particularly enthusiastic about the project, and we look forward to seeing their finished products on Monday.


After a quick lunch, we all headed to our subject-specific challenges; one of the most exciting academic fixtures of our timetable. Our doctors-to-be headed to the John Radcliffe hospital to chat to and diagnose real patients, with Kate and Carla particularly affected by their ability to maintain such a positive outlook despite their conditions.



The Young Lawyers had the opportunity to participate in a mock trial in Oxford’s own court house. Our defence, Kelvin, convinced the judge and jury to side with him, despite Victoire and Daniela’s impressive arguments.


Meanwhile, the engineers amongst us built bridges from no more than paper, tape and marshmallows. One bridge held all of the weights we had, plus 600ml of water! Unfortunately, the idea of the exercise was to really max out the bridges, so it fell to cries of “London Bridge is falling down…

Such a packed and academic day calls for a chilled out evening, so we all settled down in the Cherwell common room for a movie night to wind down. Choosing a movie is, perhaps, the most important decision of an OSA summer, so of course we had to have a democratic vote where the classic film Stuart Little was victorious.

After such a busy week, our students were keen to head to bed and sleep to ensure they’re well-rested ahead of our more relaxed weekend!



Thursday 18th July 2019


Thursday started with class as usual, followed by a lunch break in town. Having been with us for almost a week already, the mornings are running like clockwork!
The afternoon saw our students take part in the OSA Social Impact Conference, which encouraged us to consider the ways in which we can all have positive impacts on the world around us. We heard from Yasemin at Jacari, a social enterprise which offers free tutoring to disadvantaged students living in the UK with English as a second language. Diko, a prominent human rights campaigner, also spoke to us about the valuable work being done in their field.
Chloe and Gia particularly impressed our ACs with their impassioned, impromptu speeches about panda conservation and the current deportation crisis in America respectively. All of our students left the conference with a better idea of how they would like to change the world in the future.
Our second house night saw friendship bracelets being made, with Danielle making a particularly impressive one before gifting it to Head of House Mary. Stevie gets the gold for most imaginative bracelet-making, using her shoelaces and a bottle top to hold down the strings as she plaited them, being particularly impressive! Meanwhile, Raghav and Brian got swept up in a tense game of cards.

After a day jam-packed with thinking about the ways in which we can turn our skills and talents into positive impact on those around us, we’re very much looking forward to our challenges tomorrow.




Wednesday 17th July 2019


After a bright and early start (helped along by our fire alarm drill at 8am, which was not appreciated by all of our students…), we hopped on a coach and headed to Windsor along with the other houses on an OSA summer school.



We were really lucky with the beautiful weather, and the students enjoyed free time from our arrival until 1pm, with many of us opting to watch the changing of the guard, a traditional daily military parade through the town.



We then regrouped to tour the famous Castle together. Unfortunately the Chapel where Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tied the knot last was closed today, but we were able to look around the state rooms. Some of our students thought the property was a little excessive, while others had fun looking at the royal art collection. Chloe and Victoire treated themselves to toy corgis in the gift shop as we left, which have yet to be assigned names.

After a wonderful day in the sunshine, we headed back to Cherwell in time for dinner and enjoyed our first House Night as a group. We opted to play a range of board games with cards and Trivial Pursuit taking centre stage.

We have the Social Impact Conference tomorrow, and many of our students opted for an early night ahead of it.


Tuesday 16th July 2019


Our students were happy to hear that today’s schedule included less walking! We kicked off the day with class and independent study time, which saw our young doctors in the Discover Medicine group learning about surgery and the importance of clean hands before preparing their own pre-surgery consultancy form. Caden was particularly enthusiastic about what he’d learned in this class, as was Sahar – although she was more than a little disturbed to learn just how much bacteria are on our hands! Our Engineers are excited to have begun work on an extended project designing a retirement home, and lots of essays were also written this morning.



After heading out for lunch, we were treated to two amazing masterclasses which made the (rather daunting!) prospect of the future seem a bit clearer, as well as giving an insightful look into the UK university application system. We then enjoyed dinner at Oxford’s Westgate Centre, before meeting to head to Oxford Castle.



The historic ruins provided a very atmospheric backdrop to tonight’s open air performance of Macbeth. Deep was especially impressed by the second half of the production, while Charles enjoyed the acting of King Duncan the most.



We then headed back to the house for an evening briefing, and wished our AC Eliza a very happy early 21st birthday. Everyone headed to bed ahead of an exciting and busy day at Windsor on Wednesday!                                                     





Monday 15th July 2019


Our first full day here at Cherwell was jam-packed, with our students first heading to meet their tutors, who will be teaching them for the duration of their two weeks here in Oxford. As well as meeting their classes, they had introductory lessons in their field, which were fascinating by all accounts! They also had their official welcome from our team, including Deputy Director Louise, Lavinia and our matrons Pascha and Tessa.



After a quick break for lunch, our wonderful team led tours around Oxford, stopping to highlight some key points of interest including the Bodleian Library, the Sheldonian Theatre and, of course, Moo Moos milkshake parlour. Cherwell’s own local, Ruth, was especially enthusiastic about this last stop. While wandering the streets of Oxford, Gia, Shraya, Kyle and Danni staged a competition to see who could sustain an English accent for the longest. Gia had already impressed her Business and Management Prep class with her Dickensian abilities, and they prevailed to get her the victory this time, too.



In independent study time in the afternoon, our AC Eliza introduced a group of our students to the biro pen, which was popular with Kate and Carla – although their enthusiasm for them left Ruth, Eliza and Sophie rather bemused.



To finish off the day, the students headed out in teams to complete a scavenger hunt around the town. Team Athena stole the victory with a wonderful 42 points! After such a packed day of getting to know the city and each other, we spent the evening relaxing with some local ice cream, before heading to bed ahead of another busy day tomorrow!





Sunday 14th July 2019


Our wonderful team here at Cherwell were ready and raring to welcome our Summer School 3 students on Sunday morning. We were delighted to meet such a lovely group of young people, and thrilled to see friendships forming in the common room almost as soon as bags had been dropped in rooms!



Once everyone had arrived, we kicked off the summer school with a barbecue in our courtyard here at the house. Fantastic food was followed by some fun ice breakers led by our Activities Coordinators (or ACs as we like to call them here at OSA). We had Jessie leading a game of name aerobics, Eliza in charge of rather dramatic games of Splat!, and Sophie got everyone finding out more about each other in ‘The Sunshine’s On…’.



After a lot of travelling, making lots of friends and playing some high energy games, our group were all pretty tired and headed to bed ahead of a busy day getting to know the city tomorrow!