Thursday, August 4, 2011

Final Post: I am home!

After being home for almost a week it is easier to reflect on the things I miss most about our trip. Going from a bustling Oxford to a low key Spokane, WA was somewhat of a shock to me. Although I am able to eat healthier here (no more KFC around the corner), and cook, and work out, and drive wherever I want Spokane just doesn’t compare to Oxford. In Oxford I could walk around and see a city that was based on more than businesses and people, there was history. My younger sister and I were discussing what makes a city in the US a real city in the first place and the stark truth is money. A place jam packed with new stores and restaurants will bring people so more businesses will open and the chain continues. It was different in Oxford, as it is different in many places outside the US. Most, or all, of the United States’ famous cities are famous for the services they provide to the people living there but in Oxford I got to witness centuries of history unite a city and a university.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas blew my mind.

A book comprised of six intertwining stories, this novel presents a theme of human struggle and understanding. The book is laid out into six Part Ones and six Part Twos; we begin each story only to move onto the next and then return to satisfy any cliff hanger that we encountered in the first half of the book. The stories move chronologically from the South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a post-apocalyptic world far off into the future. Each story centers around a splice of one character’s life and showcases a profound look into human nature. What I thought was interesting was how each character had the same birthmark throughout the novel, half inferring that they were all the same soul drifting into different lives. I like that thought, that throughout thousands of years we are all drifting through time in new lives but profoundly connected to our past selves. I want to talk a little bit about my favorite characters and their stories.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Our trip began with a train ride to North Hampton, a city about 90 minutes outside of London. We went to see an authentic rugby match there and got to see some hardcore games. It was me, Cassie, Gawon, and Clara.

Each player had giant thighs...and short-shorts.

Blasted by Sarah Kane

Blasted by Sarah Kane

Blasted is a play about an explosion in a hotel room and how a woman, a man, and a soldier cope with the destruction.

Blasted begins as a mundane play. We are introduced to Cate and Ian, an on again- off again couple staying in a nice hotel. As the play begins, and well into the middle, the audience’s only real point of interest is the relationship the characters have with one another. As the play got going I was simply analyzing Cate and her naiveté and Ian’s miserable phoniness. Cate is a simple girl, defined by her childhood and her uncomplicated demeanor. Cate is young but you can tell that she has grown up quite a bit since knowing Ian. I got the impression that she was swept off her feet by Ian and has since been returned to solid ground. She is no longer charmed by Ian’s self-righteousness and false nonchalant manner. Cate reminds me of a woman who has crossed that line of innocence and isn’t really surprised by much anymore, but still maintains her virtue despite the things she has witnessed in her life.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Personal Blog #2

So personal blog post #2; this trip is more than halfway over and this is only my second post about my adventures, personal growth, etc. but you must understand that after Skyping your mother and informing her on every detail of your life almost daily, blogging feels redundant.

I got my tourist on and went to visit Christchurch College last week, so very stunning.

 {The dining hall at Christchurch is the one they used in HP!!!}
{Christchurch cathedral}

And despite having caught the flu whilst in Paris I am recovering! We have moved to our final lodging venue for this trip and we are now in Jesus College Graduate Flats. We each have our own giant single and for every four singles there is a living room and a kitchen so we can cook! Although this area is not in downtown Oxford it is a short bus ride away and really comfortable. Anyway, this is what I’ve been up to the last couple weeks:

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Reading Response: Shopping and Fucking

Shopping and Fucking by Mark Ravenhill

Shopping and Fucking is a play about a confused former drug addict trying to make his life meaningful and stable once again.

The play Shopping and Fucking is shocking at first glance even without reading its content. Shopping and what now? Yes, fucking. I understand why this genre of theatre is called “In-Yer-Face” because the wording, actions, and characters themselves are all up in “yer-face” and there are multiple points throughout the play that I had to comment aloud, “WTF?” The title is an important indicator of what this play is about because while it is a shocker of a name to some, it’s true meaning is more than that. Shopping and fucking are both shallow and superficial things that may have a place in every lifestyle but certainly cannot make up one entirely… or can they? A life that thrives purely on the temporary thrill of a new sale item and a one night stand is a life void of any meaning at all, and Ravenhill concocts an entire web of people merely existing in a life that may not be worth living in the first place.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

First Post From Oxford

Dear blog viewers (Mom and Brian),

I have been in Oxford for 6 days now and still no blog post! I don’t know why, maybe because I am not a very good blogger, perhaps it is jetlag, or going out too much, maybe I’m studying all the time! But if I’m being honest, it’s because I haven’t really felt like it. But no more! I am in the blogging mood now; I have just taken a four hour nap, I have access to hundreds of near identical touristy pictures to remind me what exactly I’ve been doing with my time here, and I am caught up in my readings so here we are.

So it’s two hours later, I got distracted, but I’m back! Here’s what I have done so far in Oxford, England….

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Research Topic

So I realize that we need to have a semi-formed research theme or idea by our next meeting. I have also come to the realization that I don’t have one! After much thought and bits of research here and there, I know that I am leaning towards doing an assignment regarding British culture and potentially making a comparison between it and our modern American culture within Seattle or Washington. After watching a film titled Chronique d'un Ete ('un_%C3%A9t%C3%A9), a film dedicated to the understanding the word “happiness” within the French working class, I have begun to look at this research project through an anthropological lens. Of course the film is an inquiry into French society but it has inspired me to do some sort of abstract look into British culture, perhaps based on a simple question raised in the film: “Are you happy?” 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mrs Begum's Son and the Private Tutor

First I'd like to dissect the title of this short story a little bit. It is called Mrs Begum's Son and the Private Tutor and not Magid and the private tutor. This struck me as incredibly important to the story itself and once reading it I understood that this was not a story about Magid or his family but about who Magid was because of his family and the role he was born into.

I really enjoyed this story because it was a simple glimpse into another person's life from an unattached third party. The narrative starts out with Mrs. Begum explaining to Pemrose very clearly that he is only the tutor, not a friend and not a mentor. The type of story that is told by a single person who is almost completely separated from the lives of the characters (and by the laws of storytelling, is barely a character himself) are simultaneously the most honest and the most jaded stories out there. As I was reading it I felt compelled to trust this objective narrator but at the same time I could not ignore the possibility that Pemrose was an overly analytical employee of this household and nothing more. I think that Smith wanted this story to be read with that in mind; by giving Pemrose a girlfriend, and therefore a degree of depth as a character, the audience is able to guess his motives and his perspective.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Student or Sightseer?

After this week’s group orientation, and after finally getting to see some of the other faces that will be participating in this program, I started to think about what I really want to get out of this course academically. We have all been in overdrive scanning the calendar Brian put together, buying travel books, planning out our free weekends down to the hour… or is that just me? Well despite our enthusiasm for going someplace new, I’m glad we got to switch gears last session and really start thinking about what we are going to be working on the entire month that we are in Oxford. I know I am not the only one giddy about the opportunity to learn in a place like Trinity College, and while I haven’t been hesitant to brag about this to all my friends, it really just hit me what this all means.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


"I think I love you," is what was going through my mind on Monday night. As I gazed into the eyes of Jack Bevan, drummer extraordinaire, I could not stop thinking that I loved him! Maybe it was his ferociously swinging arms or his wild and sweaty hair, but above all I honestly think that it was his British-ness.