Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Christmas Already?

All right. So I'm sure some of you are already confused by my title, but have no fear, I shall promptly explain. One thing you may not think of as an American is the fact that we have so many (commercialized) holidays. In almost 2 months we have 3 holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. And of course there are decorations you MUST buy for each one. Here there aren't that many holidays. Sure, the candy stores are sort of playing up the whole "Halloween" deal, but that's it. Well except for the masses of Christmas gift sets that are pushing their way to the front of the shelves. When you walk down High Street or Broad Street you see signs in the windows of restaurants saying "Don't forget to book your Christmas party here!" Even Pizza Hut has that in its window. It is a bit confusing. Does no one have a family Christmas dinner like the good old days? Or is it just "a British thing"? Yet another oddity of the English people.

One thing that was very exciting was that my OOSC group went on an excursion to Blenheim Palace last Saturday, which is just north of Oxford. It began the trip raining, which befitted the graveyard of Winston Churchill and the Dukes of Marlborough. Thankfully by the mid-afternoon the clouds dissipated and the sun shone through. The palace is beautiful and its grounds were reminiscent of Versailles. That was a very fun excursion to go on.

I wrote a paper on Monday for my Tuesday tutorial with Dr. Kreitzer on the New Testament. That was enjoyable but sometimes I feel like a big idiot during our discussions because I'm not super familiar with the Bible. I just know bits and pieces. I'm going to have to Sparknote it. However, he seemed to enjoy my paper, so that was nice. Now I am working on a paper for my Tudors tutorial with Dr. John Jackson on Henry VIII. It is very interesting; however, I am never very motivated to write. It is due on Friday, so thankfully I have some time.

Speaking of Friday, my mother is coming to Oxford on Friday!! I am super super pumped for that. It will be nice to see a face from the States, especially one I love so much. I feel bad for my father for having to stay at home and bring in the bacon. Thankfully, I will be seeing him in less than 2 months. Today we cleaned up the house for her stay. The place was a wreck. But after Chris cleans the den and Brent cleans the guest bedroom, it all should look decent. And hopefully it stays that way. Below is a picture of the pots and pans in the kitchen before being washed and after being consolidated to the sink by your's truly.

Yesterday was very fun because I hung out with melody and we got to have some good girl time. I also met some cool British people that go to Regent's Park. Then after I went to the Oxford union and had drinks and dialogue with Dr. Michael Oppenheimer! It's a bit of a long story of the circumstances, but I really enjoyed it. Dr. Oppenheimer is a leading environmentalist, teaches at Princeton, and was on Obama's council on the environment during his campaign. He was a fascinating and likeable man.

Well that's all for now. I shall write soonish - as in next week. Have a happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Just for you! (Emma)

Alright, time for my next post! I am absolutely having a blast here still. Although, as I told my parents today, I wish England was in Kansas. Or that my parents and house and everything was here. I am such a homebody. I love it here so much, but I miss the comfort of home. I miss having food readily available, I miss my cats and my bed, I miss my parents, I miss going places I am familiar with, I miss seeing people I've known for years, I really do miss home. But then I just love it here. I love the trees. God they are gorgeous. They are so tall and big and their shade covers so much ground! They are so different from the hardly 20 year old Kansas trees. I love love love Christ Church Meadow. It really is fabulous. AND it is right across the street from my house, so very convenient!!! I hate the cobblestones here. They make me trip all the time because I stub my toes or just fall over. I like how the temperature is fairly steady. None of the crazy bipolar temperatures in Missouri. Thank goodness. I just wear a jacket all day! I love Strongbow here. Strongbow is so delicious. I love the old buildings. They are so full of history and you can tell that they have been well-used for years. Unlike buildings in Kansas that are all from the 20th century or younger.

I decided that the British should get those moving sidewalks that they have in airports so you could go from point A to point B quicker. However, there is a small hiccup to this plan: the British cannot stick to one side of the pavement!! So therefore it would make walking on moving sidewalks very dangerous. People would be ducking and weaving but the quickness of the motor would cause many collisions I feel. The British really need to work on this.

Also, I hate to admit this, but I miss 24-hour Walmarts! Ugh. The stores close so early and it is just terrible. You never can get what you want or need on a sunday so forget about it.

I had my first encounter with socialized medicine last week. I found out my GP used to live in my house!! Weird, right? But she was very nice and took my blood to check if I have Glandular Fever. But I didn't get a good diagnosis. Oh well. I had my second encounter with socialized medicine on Friday night when a British creeper who randomly got with the group and is one of those people that no one really is friends with got super drunk and fell against a wall and fell unconscious. So my British friends rang a ambulance and he got taken off. That was quite interesting.

I wrote my second and third papers last week and that was a lot of fun.... not. Well I do know a lot more about Mark (sort of) and King Henry VII. So that was nice. My professor really liked my King Henry VII paper so that is pretty great. He was very complimentary, which is quite different from the Jewell professors who always find something wrong with my papers. It is a nice change.

I'm sure I will write more later. I've put up some more pictures so you can go to this link. Crist Church Meadow
Here are two pictures from the album! xx (Ask me later about that; it's just for you, Emma!)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nought Week

So this week has been what professors call Nought Week and students call Fresher's Week. This is the week before classes start and when all the students have come back to school. I will say I am enjoying students being here in Oxford. I really do get tired of the townies hanging around creeping. I had to write a 4000 word essay for my introductory seminar with Dr. Francis Warner and I had to turn it in on Thursday. I wrote an essay on Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe. I laid out the reasons why Marlowe had anti-Catholic scenes in the play by giving an overview of English politics at the time (especially having to do with religion), discussed Christopher Marlowe's life, the controversy over the play, and then did a detailed look at two scenes from the play that are the most anti-Catholic. It was very interesting, but I am glad it is over. I have to write two essays for next week. I have one due on Tuesday where I will be discussing how Mark created a new genre of literature in Biblical times. My other essay is due on Friday where I will be doing a brief history of King Henry VII. I just am busy busy busy!

Tomorrow I am auditioning for a choir, St. Michaels at NorthGate. What's nice is that it pays about 15 quid per performance. So I have to sing two songs for my audition and then sightread. We'll see how it goes.
Last night I sat back and watched lots of drama unfold and it was quite entertaining. I do rather enjoy watching drama, but I hate being in the drama. Speaking of drama, we went and say "Dial M for Murder" at the Oxford Playhouse on Wednesday and that was a lot of fun. The play was great and it was just amazing to see a play done with only 5 actors. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tomorrow my friends and I are going to Formal Hall with some University College kids we know. I am excited for a free, good meal. Food is so expensive here. We have to dress up very nicely and the boys must wear suits or tuxedos. It should be a lot of fun. I'll keep you posted!