Academic Update #2

About a month ago I posted an academic update and it wasn’t exactly the most optomistic of posts. Well, I’m back for another update and hopefully this time it’ll be a little brighter!

It’s hard to believe, but it’s actually 8 week, which means it’s officially the last week of the academic term! I know; it’s crazy! I simultaneously feel like I just got here and that so much has happened. I’ll give a quick rundown of the craziness of the second half of term.

First off, I got really sick which really threw a wrench into my academic flow. Fortunately though, this country has free healthcare and I received antibiotics for my chest infection with no hassle at all. (Shoutout to NHS and God save the queen!) However, because I was literally incapacitated and had no voice for a week, all my tutorials got pushed back. Also, because I’m not a superhuman and didn’t feel like dragging myself to the library while coughing up a lung, I ended up trying to read and write papers on Geroge Eliot’s Middlemarch, Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’urbervilles, and William Blake’s “All Religions are One,” “There is no Natural Religion,” “Laocoon,” and “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” all at the same time. Needless to say, it was a tad stressful.

Now, I’m finishing up my study on Blake and reading Oscar Wilde’s Salome and An Ideal Husband. Hopefully with my health back in working order, my work will be of a bit higher quality. Also, I’m happy to say that I’ve made good progress on the work/life balance endeavor I was aiming for in my last post. I’ve taken care to take more “chill days.” I’ve been spending them exploring the town and sketching a little. Here’s a rough sketch I did of Tumnus from the door that inspired Narnia.

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Tumnus is my muse.

 

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On Homesickness

As every American knows,yesterday was Thanksgiving. Or in other words, the time of year when I go home from college to see all my family and eat copious amounts of food. However, because I’m roughly 5,000 miles away this year, it was my first Thanksgiving ever away from my family.

I thought for sure this would be the day my homesickness would kick in. But fortunately, I was wrong. My housemates and I had our own makeshift thanksgiving. I spent the day peeling potatoes and baking pies and everyone really came together to make the meal magnificent.

Things I’m thankful for: Pie and pie and food and food and having our whole “family” together. All pictures courtesy of the beautiful Joowon Oh.

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So, my advice to anyone studying abroad: feeling homesick is normal and should be expected, but surround yourself with good food and good people and the rest will fall into place. Happy Thanksgiving!

Academic Graffiti

So, if you’re my friend on facebook, you might have seen this status I posted:

However, I feel like he phenomenon that is academic graffiti needs to be more fully explained.

So, the first quote that caught my eye was from Virgil’s “Copa”, and it read, “death tweaked at my ear, ‘live,’ he said, ‘I am coming.” Now, I probably would have translated it differently, but the message remains the same: Live while you can; death will come regardless.

Or in other words, as one apt graffiti-er commented: “YOLO”

And finally, in response, the last graffiti artist responded to the brilliant summary with a paraphrase of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “but by any other name, would the quote still smell as sweet?”

Now, I don’t know if this is just the bibliophile in me showing, but this weird genre of academic graffiti is absolutely hilarious to me.

For good measure, here’s a picture of a rather dedicated homage to T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of Alfred Prufrock.” Honorable mentions also go to the opening lines of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Something about the literary merit of the quote, the lazy scrawl in which it’s written, and the wooden veneer of the stall door just tickles my fancy.

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There you go, folks, that’s as close as I’m going to get to toilet humor!

Stratford Upon Avon

If you’ve read my post about the Globe Theatre, then you already know that Shakespeare is my homeboy and I need the world to know it. To thine own self be true, right? Accordingly, I had a grand old time visiting Stratford Upon Avon.

Let’s just be real here for a second: I took like 8 million pictures of random buildings where Shakespeare supposedly stepped foot at one point or another. So for the sake of this post not being ridiculous, I’m just going to limit myself to posting the two most important.

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The birthplace of Shakespeare (April 23, 1564)

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Trinity Church: Burial Site of Shakespeare (April 23, 1616)

Now, if you’re really astute, you’ll notice that Shakespeare was born and died on the same day. This is controversial because historians don’t actually know for certain, but I choose to believe it because it’s poetic and Shakespeare deserves that. You know, the wheel is come full circle.

In fact, the authenticity of Shakespeare’s authorship is controversial because so little is known about him. Again, I choose to believe he existed because no legacy is so rich as honesty.

And finally, here’s a picture of me and my girl, Lady Macbeth. AKA my favorite fictional female. What a boss.

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Stratford Upon Avon: highly recommend it for any Shakespeare lovers out there. Also, I threw some Shakespeare quotes in this post from Hamlet, King Lear, and All’s Well That Ends Well. Comment if you found them all!

Warwick Castle

Anyone that knows me knows that I kind of really want to work as a face character in Disneyland. So, it’s safe to say visiting castles is something I enjoy because I love feeling like a princess. (Can you really blame a girl?) And, you know, history is cool too.

Warwick castle was originally built in 1068 by William the conqueror and when you think about it, that’s kind of insane. Since then, it’s been owned by 36 different families, hosted many a member of royalty, and like most castles has its fair share of bloody history.

Now the castle is owned by an entertainment group which caters to tourists. It’s kind of a bummer because it’s set up like a Disneyland attraction rather than an authentic piece of history. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Disneyland, but look at these tacky mannaquins!

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Despite the (somtimes distasteful) reconstructions, I can see why they chose to set the castle up this way. It makes it more relatable to have reconstructions rather than just a barren castle. It’s also a really good set up for educational purposes, especially for younger children. And okay, maybe I’m being too judgemental, because I was super stoked that all the staterooms were set to the Victorian period (aka what I’m studying) and I was allowed to touch everything. Including these editions of Shakespeare’s works from the 1830’s.

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Just kidding, I wasn’t really supposed to touch them.

 

There was a fair amount to see outside of the castle rooms too. On top of the mound there was an absolutely gorgeous view of the River Avon and the surrounding castle grounds.

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There was also, a castle tower which has a great view as long as you can make the climb!

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All in all, Warwick castle was great fun!

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My Neck of the Woods

Back in the day when I was regularly auditioning for musicals, my best friend’s audition song was “The Girl I Mean to Be” from The Secret Garden. The last verse went as follows:
I need a place to spend the day,
Where no one says to go or stay,
Where I can take my pen and draw
The girl I mean to be.

Now, this may be a bit cliche, but I found that place for myself. Okay, maybe not the end bit of drawing the girl I’m meant to be, but at least I found a really ideal location to read. It’s buried in the meadows of Magdalen.

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Look at me, happy as a clam, chilling in a tree and reading Blake.

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Side note: you can’t tell because my selfie arm is only so long, but I’m legitimately sitting in a tree in this picture. I later noticed a sign that blatantly said “plase do not climb trees,” so I moved to the bench.

The place is perfect because there is no one out there (too cold perhaps) and the view is amazing. To one side is this majestic line of trees and to the other is the equally majestic Magdalen tower.

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Anyway, I just thought I’d share my little slice of heaven. Just me and the deer.

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P.S. I have 50 blurry photos of deer on my phone.

Library Laughs

Oxford students definitely have a reputation for being pretentious. While that’s a generalization and there are certainly many humble and amiable people here, my experience in the library today has shown me one side of Oxford which very much lives up to its reputation. When criticism is bad, Oxford students are merciless.

Check out the annotations on the title page to this commentary on Robert Browning.

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“Not particularly trustworthy: Look at Porphyria’s lover, esp p. 81-82 before deciding to get this book out!” “Indeed it is very poor, for Porphyria is in fact a whore.” “It’s a book of shite. I agree.” “Truly-don’t bother-this critic is completely myopic-only thing worth reading are the margin notes!”” But those are quite funny, if you’ve got 5 minutes” “This is absolutely awful. Plough on with trepidation.”

 Look how many annotations are in the book! This continues throughtout the entire text; each note was more critical than the next!

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Highlights from the conversational annotations:

On the American spelling of the novel: “It’s American” “Stop writing silly things.” “But they’re what make this book interesting” “Yes, the spelling of Clarke is fascinating.” “You have a low comedy threshold” “Will you just let me read the damn book?!” “Why would you want to bother?”

On the notion that truth is dependent on perspective: “But truth is not relative.” “Yes it is, It is more relvant to wonder whether Browning thought truth to be relative. In the book, he thought knowledge relative, but that is not truth, is it?” “Stop showing off”

In reference to the text, the author, and the location of publication: “It’s garbage like this that gives English litererary criticism a bad name” “This guy just hasn’t got a clue sometimes, has he?” “This guy is full of repetitive bullshit granted, but you can see why he wants to share his literary pretensions; it’s probably the only culture they have in New Mexico”

 

The back and forth was much more humorous in the text when I could see the progression of notes via different individuals. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any better pictures because I didn’t have a camera and technically,I’m not allowed to take pictures of the books. Regardless, I got a good laugh in reading the witty asides of some students before me. It almost made my day in the library studying about “Fra Lippo Lippi” and “Andrea Del Sarto” in Browning’s Men and Women enjoyable. Almost.