Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Days of Adventure and Nights of Revelry!

So this is officially my third week here in Oxford and I truly am loving it. I have found the British to be a very odd group of people. The guys are very introverted, even at night clubs, until about 2am when they have had enough liquid courage to manage to walk up to a girl. Also at clubs they often just stand around talking on the dance floor rather than dancing. I find it quite odd. They open shops rather late in the morning and almost all stores are closed by 5:00pm. McDonalds sucks here because they change their menu so you can't buy from the value menu at 3am. Additionally, they have no sense of lanes. By this I mean that when americans are walking on the sidewalk, usually they go right while people going the opposite direction go left. The British have no understanding of this concept. They just tend to bob and weave, causing you to nearly crash into them. It is quite ridiculous. This reminds me of another oddity of the British or maybe just people not from the Midwest. When you enter a shop here in England you are never greeted by the salespeople or asked if you need any help. I find this so weird and almost rude because I am so used to having salespeople hover over me the second I step in a store. Silly, silly Britons.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day for we are going to Stratford-Upon-Avon and seeing The Winter's Tale at a theatre there in Stratford. It should be quite enjoyable. However, we are leaving at 8:45 so it is rather early. I'll upload the pictures from the excursion when I next get the chance.

Remember to check out my pictures at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2020865&id=1184670110&l=c863207822
and http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2021728&id=1184670110&l=5844d724f1

Here is a preview:

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Great Oxford Adventure

Well, here I am! I have officially been in Oxford for a week! I will admit the transition was hard the first day with the culmination of not sleeping, hardly eating, and going through parent withdrawal, but I made it through. I absolutely love all of my housemates and the kids in the program. They are super great and fun. They definitely keep me busy. We have gone to Sainsbury's (the grocery store) nearly everyday and it is a little crazy. Fortunately I have found a meal that I really like, Chicken kiev. Also we found The Mission, a Chipotle wannabe that tastes delicious. I will say that my legs are almost always tired at the end of the day because of all of the walking that we do. I swear I think we walk at least 3 miles a day, if not more.

On Friday we went to Hampton Court and it was pretty fun. I loved seeing the history and walking through the vast gardens. We also saw King Henry VIII! He said "Ladies" to us as we watched him walk by. It was really great. The tapestries at the palace were unbelievable. They are enormous and made with gold and silver thread. Apparently they cost more than a warship.

On Wednesday we are going to the Globe Theatre to see As You Like It, a play by Shakespeare. That should be super interesting. I will let you know how it goes. Today I vacuumed so my mother should be very proud of me. Now I'm off to make some dinner!

Here is a link to my pictures on facebook so you can keep up! http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2020865&id=1184670110&l=c863207822

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Official Countdown: 4 days, 10 hours, 29 minutes and 5 seconds

After a grueling 10 hour drive back from Madison, WI, I have finally arrived home! I just spent the last 5ish days driving to Madison and hanging out with my brother and driving back. I will admit the time I spent there was lovely. Other than rain showers on the way up and back, the weather was ideal. We got to meet Brad's cat, Sampson, for the first time and boy was he adorable. He is so friendly and wants a ton of attention, unlike my two boys, Lewis and Clark. The only downside to Sammy is that he meows constantly, in manner that says "I have important things to say and I will be heard!" But I told Brad it was good for him to be on the receiving end of pestering for a change.

The first day up there my parents and I went on a tour of Brad's workplace with my brother leading the group in a manner that would invoke jealousy in the Beefeater tour guides of London Tower. Haha, ok I'm kidding. But our tour proved very interesting. We walked for nearly 10 miles to tour the whole facility in Verona, WI. He works for Epic, a company that digitalizes medical records. The company is set on 500 acres of land with 3 or 4 different "campuses." The buildings are truly spectacular. It felt like we were at a huge resort because of the Frank Lloyd Wright style structures that were surrounded by gorgeous gardens and landscaping. Not only this, but inside each of the buildings was a plethora of art with areas all set in themes. They have conference rooms thematically decorated, such as a futuristic, airforce control room, and an ice cave. It was remarkable. You could definitely see a womanly touch in the decorations thanks to the CEO. I'll load a few pictures on so you can see some of it.

We went shopping later on, which occurred frequently the rest of the trip. I tried to restrain myself, but I couldn't resist a beautiful and fitted ruffle front shirt from H&M. We stood at Best Buy and the AT&T store for quite a while waiting on Brad to choose his new phone. (He eventually chose the iPhone 3G 16GB after consulting me, my parents, coworkers, Aunt Peggy, and multiple workers at both stores.)

On Sunday we visited Milwaukee and were greatly surprised by the appearance of the town. I swear the bit by Lake Michigan looked nearly identical to the Michigan coast in Chicago. It became clear that this is a lively town with a bustling college-aged community, but also a very active middle-aged population as we drove down the beach-front road and saw the residents out on the beach and in the parks. There also are mansions along the beach that were very fun to look at and imagine that we lived there. Milwaukee was such fun to visit.

Last night I was able to enjoy one of my favorite things in the whole world: a hot tub. The hotel had one and so the family and I took the opportunity to soak our weary limbs before playing two robust rounds of Rummikub. It was nice to have this downtime to truly enjoy spending time with my family. It definitely made me grateful for the people in it.

Looking forward to my week ahead, I know I will be dreadfully busy. My mom has requested that I do all my work on Thursday while she is at work so we can have all day to hang out tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday. This might be difficult because I have to pack, clean my car & room, confirm my flight, read a 400 page book on Henry VIII, and retrieve my laptop from Best Buy; but I shall try.

I leave Sunday at 10:39am from the Wichita airport and should get into the UK around 6:20am UK time or 12:20am Central Time. I need to try to sleep on the flight over or I will be super exhausted Monday.

But now I should go to sleep. I shall leave you with some sound advice that is applicable to all situations if you think hard enough: Don't Panic!