Monday, April 6, 2009

Winding Down

Well, I'm at it again- sitting in the library with an open word document before me, a book next to me, and my thoughts entirely somewhere else. 

I just came from a very interesting meeting with a man named Nick Middleton. Nick is a professor at St. Anne's college in Oxford, but more importantly, he is a published travel writer and TV personality. Over a cup of coffee in the nearby bookstore-wonder, Blackwells, I had Nick all to myself for over half an hour. He managed to give me all sorts of good advice on how to get my foot in that travel-lit door. Now, unfortunately he didn't offer me a job as suitcase carrying lackey or anything, but getting to hear the stories of how it's done by someone who has actually done it was well worth it. 
While talking to him I was even struck with the notion that maybe if I took the time to write it all out, I could publish my memoirs of my year abroad. And if I somehow manage to be more concise than prolific, something I tend towards even in my essays, I could round up all my fellow students to pitch in their own experiences. Anyway, this is just one of my newest ambitions. Those of you who know me well will recognize that for me they come at least a dime a dozen, so the probability of this one coming to fruition is small. Almost like the chance of me finally telling you about my Christmas break expeditions. 

But in other news, my Oxford time is nearing its true and final end. Two papers left and then I will be free from the academic clutches of this city. For a few months, anyway. And it really is quite a tragedy that I must spend so much of this time in the library. The sun has finally risen again on Oxford, giving not just light, but warmth. On Saturday a friend and I lay upon a blanket for a good two hours under the cloudless blue sky. We even managed to get the base for that unheard of British tan. 

Sunday, March 29, 2009


My goodness, how time flies when:

1. You're having fun.
2. You're trying to take in every last bit of a place you can before you leave.
3. You are writing papers and reading books as if doom were impending and the only way to stop it is to get a high enough word count. (Nerd computer game, anyone?) 

Anyways, as I am writing this I currently have two word documents open. One with a copious amount of notes, and one with a slightly less copious essay. I do believe I am close to my life-long goal of mastering the art of procrastination. If I play my cards right, I might just live forever, since I'll just put off dying. But that is besides the point. Actually, that is the whole point. 

I was planning on waxing eloquent on how these are my last three weeks here. About how my days are filled with the last and singular lecture series, complemented by a field trip every week and how tonight I had an awesome girl's night out at a fancy restaurant. But really, I just wanted a break from a paper I have no desire to write. 

So I am sorry to disappoint with a sketchy and ultimately unfulfilling blog, but my life right now consists of two dirty coffee mugs, an empty bowl of cereal, a backpack full of books and an encroaching deadline. 

Monday, March 2, 2009


March is here and it has brought spring with it. 

Spring in Oxford, although not at all relieving the amount of work we have to do, certainly aids in its completion. The libraries which were once freezing and formidable are now cheerful, leisurely places.
There are crocuses and snowdrops blooming by the hundreds in the parks, a truly beautiful and welcoming sight. I made the trek today with no coat, leaving all of my weather aspirations up to chance. The problem here is that it is so moist that my face and hands get cold, even while my core is sweating from the brisk pace of walk I set. There is nothing quite like the stroll along the bike path, however, especially in the cool evening air. I can smell the grasses now, which make me think of a million lovely things: soccer, camping out, picnics, stargazing... with Spring Break a mere 2 weeks away, I can hardly wait to enjoy this new atmosphere. 
One of the advantages of living in the Vines is the view it affords me of the sunset. The sunsets here almost rival those of Colorado, and surpass those of many a place. I took these from my bedroom window last week: 

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Rewind- Valentine's Day to 1980's

My LBD that I bought for Valentine's Day. I thought, "I've never owned one before and here I am with a date, on Valentine's Day in Oxford. What better time to actually buy one?" 

The group that went out. We attended a special concert in the Sheldonian Theater (google image it- it's gorgeous) then went out to dinner. 

80's Dance Party! The outfits were all amazing. 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

White Procrastination

Well, it's Saturday of 3rd week and I'm sitting in the library. My academics are a lot more rigorous this term, so I actually am trying to get into a good time-management scheme. Obviously I'm failing, since I am updating this instead of taking notes. 
For the past few days Oxford has been covered in a beautiful blanket of white. It falls anew each day, except today, when the sun is shining and the sky is blue. It's amazing seeing so much snow- we got 5 inches the other night- but because of the walking nature of the city, it causes more problems than the experience makes up for. I bought a new pair of shoes yesterday because none of the ones I previously owned were remotely water-proof enough to walk through slush for 45 minutes. However, it was a great excuse for me to stay in on Thursday, drinking coffee and reading. 
Valentine's Day is next week, as I'm sure all of you are aware, and I am helping plan a great party for all the students. We're going to have an 80's Dance Party on Friday night, complete with terrible outfits, bad movies and sickly love ballads. I'm already planning out my costume; hopefully there will be some great pictures to put up next week. 
Other than that it is mostly work, work, work. Occasionally, and perhaps a little too often, I take a break to watch a movie or learn how to play guitar, or cook amazing meals with 5 of my housemates. 
Getting used to the Vines is taking time, but I think I am finally settling in. However, I spend a lot of time at Crick, where the atmosphere is just more homey. Speaking of which, I think I might pack up and head on over there right now. I can always study later...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Vines Move

Adjustment is hard; readjustment is harder. 

It has now been one week since returning to Oxford. The transition into Oxford life has been relatively smooth, except for a few rather large bumps. The first of these is the relocation to a new dwelling- The Vines. Second-term students are required to live in the house they did not previously occupy. In my case, this means the 'country' house of 40 students and a good 45 minute walk to the center of town. Don't get me wrong- the huge yard is beautiful and one of the walks is gorgeous. However, trying to get to know 40 new people instead of just 20 is almost terrifying. Especially when you never see them because the house is so big everyone just gets lost unless they sit in their own rooms. A few of the newcomers have made efforts and now are a part of our spontaneous 'returners' food groups. But I miss all the friend I made last term and the ease with which I could walk somewhere. 
The second major hitch has been my tutorials. There was trouble with my primary tutorial over Winter Break and it only managed to get sorted yesterday, and only after a major ordeal and lots of trouble. The person who normally does my tutorial is on leave and their replacement was being far from helpful in taking over. Having not heard from them, our administrators suggested I pick a new one. So I did, after which they almost immediately heard back from the other guy. So, I switched back to my original topic and set up a meeting. Then it turned out that there was a misunderstanding about how the tutorial worked. The meeting was still on but only tentatively, in case something else fell through. Then the email system of our administrators crashed, making it impossible for any of the outstanding errors to be efficiently resolved. The tutor never showed up for the meeting and so, sick of it all, I just chose to go with my second option. Needless to say, I've spent the majority of the week in a limbo, waiting to see what the outcome would be so I could start working. And now I can, a few days behind everyone else and with my first essay due on Wednesday. 
On a lighter, and perhaps a bit comical, note: I tried to ride a bike around the other night. The houses are rather far apart and the walk can get a tad tedious. So, I bought an old bike off of one of last term's students. The seat is too high, the brakes squeak like they're in their death throes and the chain is rusty. It doesn't help that I haven't tried to seriously ride a bike since before high school or that a good deal of the riding here is done on the streets. Needless to say, I'm glad I attempted it in the dark and on a relatively empty bike path. 
Serious essay writing and studying begins on Monday. We've already been out a few times to our favorite pubs- just to get back into the swing of things and initiate some of the new kids. The room (I have 2 roommates now) is already a mess, or rather, never was clean and laundry has yet to see the laundry room. But I'm glad to have my books and my coffee back, the same bed every night and the company of people I have, can and will get to know. 

Monday, January 12, 2009


Well, I'm back in England safe and sound. I arrived from Berlin on Friday afternoon to a landscape of hoar frost and sun. Everything about it just screamed, "Welcome Home!" 
It's been a whirlwind of meeting new people, settling into a new house and picking right back up where I left off. 
This week is devoted entirely to orientation and then tutorials will begin again next week. Hilary term, which is this Spring one, is designed backwards to the Fall term, so we will end with British Landscapes. 
Hopefully I will find the time this weekend to catch up on blogging about my winter break, including pictures.