Back to the US of A

For any devoted followers of this blog (mom? dad? anybody?), you may have noticed that I stopped posting for a month and then posted a whole bunch all at once! The reasoning for that is simple: the end of the semester got super crazy, then over the holiday break I got super lazy. And now we’re here – the weekend before my spring semester starts back in California.

Now I couldn’t just leave this blog without a little bit of reflection and at the very least some closure, so here it is. This is it. My time in Oxford is really over. May I just say: reverse culture shock is completely real and it completely sucks. I miss England so much that it hurts me just a tad inside. In fact, even writing this right now is making me uncomfortably emotional. From my tutors and everyone I met to the amazing city I came to love to everything academic and nonacademic I learned, I couldn’t have asked for a better study abroad experience. I’ll keep it short and sweet; Oxford, I love ya and I hope we’ll meet again some day.

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Goodbye Oxford.

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Goodbye England.

To anyone and everyone that joined me on my journey, thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading and for all of your support. And if you just can’t get enough, stick around! Now that I’m back in California this blog might get a face lift; only time will tell! Until then!

This is Only the Beginning

It’s with great sadness that my semester here in Oxford has come to an end. Fortunately though, I still have a few more days in the UK to help me cope. My family actually met me in London and I had the absolute pleasure of traveling around England, Scotland, and Ireland with them!

The trip was an absolute whirlwind! We traveled to four different countries and eight different cities in only five days! I couldn’t possibly recap all the amazing experiences we had, but some definite highlights include: a ghost tour in Edinburgh, spending the night at Ashford castle, holding a hawk in my hands at a school of falconry, and meeting up with old friends in Limerick. And now, because pictures are worth a thousand words, I’ll post below some photographs of our travels, all courtesy of Andrew Ratermann.

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London

York

York Minster

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Glasgow

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Edinburgh

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Ashford Castle

If you enjoyed the photos, click here to follow my brother on Instagram because he’s a much better photographer than I am.

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

I absolutely adore all things Christmas. Our house has been playing Christmas music nonstop since the beginning of September; it’s out of control. There’s something really special about Oxford at Christmas time. I feel the Christmas magic everywhere. Neither pictures nor words really capture it, but I’ll let the later make an attempt.

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St. Aldates Church

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Christ Church Residence Halls

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Bodleian Library

Afternoon Tea

Before coming to the UK, I had this misconception that everyone sat down to afternoon tea all the time. After moving here, I quickly realized that every college student here is just as coffee addicted as anywhere else.

Regardless, my housemates and I decided to indulge ourselves and go to afternoon tea at The Old Parsonage. And boy was it fancy. And boy did we try to be fancy too.

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Photo courtesy of Joowon Oh.

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The beautiful Damaris! Photo Courtesy of Joowon Oh.

And the food! Scones. Scones everywhere. We have all decided that clotted cream is the food of Gods.

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Photo Courtesy of Joowon Oh.

The service was amazing. The food was amazing. The incredibly posh table of elderly gentleman discussing Virginia Woolf behind us was amazing. I need to be rich in the future, so I can go to high tea all the time.

Night at the Museum

Imagine this: you’re walking aimlessly around the city with your friend on a Friday night wondering what there is to do when a smartly dressed woman approaches you and says, “would you like to attend an after hours event at the Pitt Rivers Museum?” Do you say yes?

Hell to the yeah you do! Or at least, that’s what we did. The event ended up being really great, so it looks like luck was on our side that night. I had never been in the museum before, and I was amazed at the sheer size of the place!

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Aerial view

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One of the many aisles

Here’s one of my favorite display cases. Just for jollies.

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Look at all the playing cards!

While all of the artifacts were absolutely fascinating to look at, the event was especially spectacular because there were curators all around the museum to answer questions and some items were even available for handling. I held a thousand year old mask of the devil; how cool! And perhaps the cutest part of the event was the live music and poetry readings.

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Adorable.

So, next time you’re in Oxford and looking for something fun to do on a Friday night, hit up Pitt Rivers (because museums are way cooler than college parties.).

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.

 

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!