Thursday, October 7, 2010

just a normal week

Sorry it's been a while since I posted! It hasn't been the most exciting week, and kind of busy, because...

I met with my tutor on Monday! He seems very nice and is super into letting me do what I want, which is nice. So I proposed some topics, and he proposed that I look at a couple articles about feminism and the Middle East for my first essay. So he gave me one and I found another in a syllabus from another class he had given me, and I've tried to go to town on them. I've read them, I've taken notes, and now I have a basic outline. Our trip this weekend has really taken 2 days away from my work, though, and I'm a little stressed about it, but I'm going to work very hard on Sunday and then see how it goes on Monday. He wants me to come in and give him a short presentation of my essay and then we can discuss it. I'm crossing my fingers that it will go well!

In the mean time, I have gotten VERY fed up with the library system here already. You can't check books out. So you have to sit in the library and take your notes there, which is fine but I tend to work better in my room. For this week, I just had two short articles, so I could copy them, but for next week I'm looking at probably 3 books, which I can't afford to copy! So I guess next week I'll learn how to work in the library. There's the tiny library at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, which is nice for browsing books, and then the main Bodleian library which has a ton of reading rooms but you can't really browse many of the stacks. The books are kept underground and taken to the reading room you request, and you can keep them there for 7 days but you cannot leave with them. Sigh. Oh, and I forgot to mention the part where the reading rooms are only open Monday to Friday, 9-5.

The highlight of the week was probably Fresher's Fair, the giant Oxford activities fair. I signed up for a lot of stuff, including caving, archery, music, wine tasting, belly dancing... I think I might actually take belly dancing classes, and join a non-auditioned classical choir, but the biggest thing was when I signed up for an audition for what was described to me in this way: Do you watch Glee? Then audition for us! Needless to say, I was hooked. So I'm auditioning on Wednesday...wish me luck!

Today after my soccer class we went out and played. I'm super out of shape, but I had forgotten how much I really love playing soccer. We're going to do it once a week and I think I'll try to do it every week when I can. It was awesome :)

I went to the fish store and bought a fresh tuna steak and cooked it in olive oil, onions, lime, and garlic was divine. I really like having the specialty shops... I think I'll stock up on essentials at the store and buy a lot of bread/cheese/fish/meat/veggies at the stores in the covered market.

Tomorrow we head out early for York on our trip funded by the Bing family, and we come back Saturday evening. We're seeing a lot of really old buildings, so I'm sure I'll have stuff to say about them...

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Here is a link to the Facebook album of all the pictures I've taken so far. As I update it, this link should still work. If I start a new one, I'll post the new link!


We left for London at 11 am on Saturday - it was nice to get a chance to sleep in, but we didn't get into the city until almost 2, so I kind of wish we had left earlier. We went to the Tower of London and got about an hour and a half there. It was enough time to see the Bloody Tower, the armoury, and the Crown Jewels, which are very very very impressive. Some of them were missing and labeled "In Use." If only the US had anything nearly as impressive...

Then we headed over to St. Paul's Cathedral and went up into the galleries. It was most of 600 steps to get up there, and most of them were very winding and narrow, but I'd say it was worth it for the view from the top. It was kind of foggy but still beautiful. And then we had to walk down...

Afterwards, we had some time off, and a few of us just ended up sitting in a restaurant for a while. It wasn't enough time to head too far, as we had to be at the Globe to see Henry IV, Part 1. The Globe is pretty cool, a recreation of the actual Globe of Shakespeare's time. There are standing room tickets that are open to the elements, and those people got a lot of rain on them during the play last night - a lot of them ended up leaving. The actors got rained on a fair amount, too. Luckily, the Programme had invested in actual covered seats for us, so we got nice wooden benches to sit on. The show was pretty good, though I was fairly confused for most of it, since I wasn't familiar with it at all before.

After the show, everyone headed back to Oxford, but I took the Tube to Kensington to see old family friends. I got there late at night and just went to bed, but woke up and spent a lovely night with them. We biked up Central London to Trafalger Square through a bunch of parks, and we went to the National Gallery and looked around for a while. Barbara rated their Italian collections, which has its own wing, a B-, because they had no Boticellis and very few of a lot of other Italian artists. Afterwards we biked back to their house with a detour by Big Ben and Parliament. We had a late lunch and then I headed to the Oxford Tube, a bus that goes between Oxford and London. For 15 pounds, I got a ticket to Oxford with a "period return," which means I can go back anytime in the next three months. It's a pretty sweet deal, since I'm fairly positive I'll be back to London sometime soon.

Waiting for the Tube, I was a little confused about what time it would come, so Matt (family friend) asked a woman standing there if she knew. Surprise - she did her undergrad at Stanford! She's 30 now and doing a masters at Oxford, but seriously, what are the odds? She gave me her contact info and we spent a lot of the ride back talking about Stanford, especially stuff that's changed since she was there - she didn't know what the Axe and Palm was! It was so funny to meet her.

Now I'm back in Oxford and heading to bed soon. Tomorrow I have an orientation of the library at my college, Brasenose, and I meet with my tutor for the first time!