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….
After I landed in London on June 24, I thought that I would be napping for the rest of the day. This seemed like a good idea due to the last 20 hours of no sleep at all but unfortunately, the room I was assigned had a lofted bed. Ladders and a sleep deprived Jenna usually result in catastrophe so I ended up going into downtown Oxford instead. The place we are staying for the remainder of this week is called EF International Language School and it is a place that teens and young adults from all over the world come to board and learn English.
It is just outside of downtown Oxford and about a 5-minute bus ride away. I live in a triple but we have a private bathroom and a cleaning service so I’m content. We are moving accommodations twice, once on July 3 to Jesus College, one of the many Oxford colleges. This college is in downtown Oxford and provides single rooms (!) so that is pretty cool. The third place we are living is the Jesus college graduate housing which also has pretty sweet digs but it is outside of downtown; we move there on July 14 I believe. I return to lovely Spokane on July 28-29 but at this moment I cannot even fathom leaving this psychedelic place.

Why Oxford is Grand:
1)      The architecture. It is seriously beautiful here, although the downtown area is really only comprised of a few streets, the ancient buildings and fancy McDonalds give off a good vibe.
[A beautiful view of the Radcliffe Camera]
2)      The pub culture. As many may know the drinking age here is 18 which means we all have access to the pubs, bars, and night clubs that swarm downtown Ox. Being able to go out into the city with the freedom that Oxford provides is a wonderful experience, Seattle take notes!!
3)      The academic side of things. I have arrived in Oxford just as the near graduates of the college are taking their last finals. Or should I say first finals? The way it works at Oxford University is that the students go to school for 3 years and then take a massive 3-day test that decides if they get to graduate. If it sounds hell-ish then it is. To top it off, they are required to wear fancy academic robes with carnations pinned to their lapels for all 3 days; what ever happened to taking a final in 2-day old sweats?
[Entering the Sheldonian Theatre for a look at the city from above]
4)      Finally I love the laid back vibe. Although people are not outwardly kinder than the US they certainly are more invested in maintaining a positive and relaxed attitude than we are. I would sum it up by saying that Oxfordians (real word?) enjoy the little things in life.
5)      Oh and also, there is no tipping or tax!

Since I’ve been here I have done a sufficient job of exploring the city, gone shopping almost everyday, taken orders from people back home for souvenirs, gotten a good taste of the wonderful nightlife, and done the tourist-y thumbs up pictures with various statues and what not as well.
                                              [Me pretending to be scholarly at the induction throne.]
I have been inducted into the Bodleian libraries (the official research institute for Oxford University) so I can begin researching my topic for the culminating presentation of this program and I have also bought my Harry Potter premier ticket, I am still psyched that I get to watch the movie in the city where it was filmed and the city from which the books were written.
                                                             [My official Bodleian ID]

[Within the Bodleian where the Harry Potter infirmary took place in the films!]
There are still a few things I’d like to see but my attention has turned from exploration of the city to the class readings and discussions. The class itself is very laidback but we are given incredibly interesting readings to immerse ourselves in and expected to keep up our blogs (hence this post). I was surprised but how rarely I’ve felt homesick and the relatively low culture shock I’ve experienced. This place feels so comfortable I may have to come back for a longer period of time someday.

My plans for the rest of the month:
1)      ARCADE FIRE!!! The concert is tomorrow in Hyde Park, which is in London (about an hour away from Oxford) and I am so excited. Expect pictures.
2)      Weekend in Wales! This weekend I am venturing outside of Oxford and bumming it in hostels while enjoying Cardiff, the capital.
3)      Weekend in Paris! On July 8-10 I will be staying in the entrancing Paris (I said that with a French accent) and I plan to go up the Eiffel Tower despite how cliché it is.

I hope you enjoyed my first blog post from Oxford UK!

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