A family Christmas

– Joshua Austin –

Academic year, 2017–2018



The Scholars’ Semester in Oxford impacted me in many ways, but most of all through my studies, the friendships made, and the adventures in which I had the opportunity to take part while abroad.

Oxford’s rigorous academics greatly improved my writing as my tutors continually pushed me out of my comfort zone. Surface-level research was left far behind and I was given the opportunity to delve deep into the analysis of historical subjects.

During my time at Wycliffe I became friends with a masters student. He is a friendly rugby player from Ireland. Like most of my friends from Gordon who initially planned on staying for Christmas, I had planned on travelling around the UK and continental Europe. However, all of them ended up returning to the USA for their Christmas break and I was going to be the only SCIO student in Oxford. Because of this, I began planning travels around the UK, but it appeared that I would be spending Christmas by myself. My friend and I were cooking and he asked what I was doing for Christmas. When I told him that I did not know, he immediately offered for me to stay in Ireland. Come Christmas time, he picked me up from Dublin airport and drove me to his house. I was graciously welcomed by his wonderful family. We celebrated Christmas with two church services in one of the local parishes and my first traditional Irish Christmas dinner with pudding. I also had the opportunity to visit Cavan town and Sligo in addition to Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, giving me the chance to see much of the surrounding area by car and on foot. The family’s hospitality allowed me to experience Christmas in a small Irish town as a local unlike anything I would have been able to do as a tourist. I appreciated the opportunity to become one of them for the time I was there: an honorary member of their family, as they called me. I thank them for giving me the gift of an incredible Christmas that I will remember fondly for the rest of my life.

The Sligo coast (photo credit: Joshua Austin)