Here is part two out of three posts dedicated to my short study abroad to Oxford, UK in the summer of 2007. You can find the rest of the posts here.
Jul 24, 2007
Oxford -- Day 4
Today has beautiful weather. It's been a blue and gold day as they say and actually warm enough to shed my jacket for a bit. We had two entertaining guest lecturers this morning who spoke about Englishness and about why the UK should not adopt the Euro. We had a more technical lecture this afternoon by our very pro-Euro teacher who balanced things out a bit. After class we took our group picture in front of the Principle's Lodgings so hopefully that turned out good.
After class David, a guy from school, and I went into town to see Christ's Church. It is the most famous church in Oxford and they modeled the dining hall in Harry Potter after the dining hall at that college. We walked around the gardens and examined some of the flooded areas. I have it all well documented incase they need any pictures for insurance purposes :) Apparently it's a pretty big deal. We were supposed to have another guest lecturer this afternoon however he couldn't make it from London because the train tracks are flooded. He's getting married on Thursday so we won't be able to reschedule.
We were going to go inside the church but it closed before we got a chance. Next time I guess. I had some homemade ice cream while David ate a bagel sandwich and then we went shopping for a bit and I picked up a sandwich (tuna and sweet corn on malted bread) and water from the grocery store for dinner.
My plan is to read my book this evening and try to go to bed at a decent hour. It's hard getting used to going to bed 5 hrs earlier and definitely getting up 5 hrs earlier is a challenge.
Jul 27, 2007
Oxford -- Day 6
Current mood: sleepy
I didn't write yesterday because nothing cool happened. I went to class and then I took a nap. I went to the grocery store and bought dinner and read my book all evening. I did buy a cool Oxford University polo looking shirt that was on sale.
Today was much more exciting. This morning we left at 8:00 AM for London. We went to St. Paul's Cathedral, but none of us went in because it costs £8.50, which is about $17. It was pretty cold and windy so we hid out in a restaurant until the bus took us to our first meeting at the European Commission in the UK. The guy who gave the presentation was a bit dry and I'm still not really sure what the commission does. Someone later explained that they were the civil servants of the EU. Afterwards we went to a more lively talk at the EU Parliament in the UK.
I had been planning on staying in London and going to dinner and taking a later bus back to Oxford, but when we got out of the last meeting it was raining pretty hard so I just rode back with the chartered bus. We got back to Oxford at about 6:00 PM and I went out to dinner with a couple guys and a girl from my group. It was fun.
It's been interesting on this trip because alcohol has been a big part of it for the majority of my classmates. It seems like alcohol is much more the norm here culturally than in the States. I noticed that when one of the lecturers talked about someone who made Cognac for a living he talked about it in a very matter of a fact way as though he made shoes. My American classmates sort of giggled about it. I see that alcohol is a more normal part of life, while even for my classmates who drink it's not quite as normal as it is for the Europeans.
I have also noticed that by not drinking I have limited my social interactions with most of my classmates. I'm not as close to them as others are because I haven't gone out drinking with them and some of them still remember me being the one who was kept awake by their late night wine drinking the first night we were here. I don't want to be seen as not fun, but going and hanging out at a pub late at night doesn't sound like too much fun.
Tomorrow I'm going to go to Bath with Bobby, a guy from my program. I've heard some really good things about it so I'm looking forward to it. I'm not sure what I'll do on Saturday. There are some peeps going to London to watch a double header soccer match that could be cool. Inter Milan is playing in one of them.
Jul 28, 2007
Day 7 -- Oxford
Well, today was good. This morning I got up and went to Bath with Bobby from Arkansas. We nearly missed the bus because we didn't realize that the one we needed was already there. The Scottish bus driver barely let us on and he was pretty strict, telling us we were talking too loud and we needed to put on our seat belts. We had been sitting in the front next to him, but at the first stop we moved to the back of the bus so we didn't have to worry about getting in trouble.
The first thing we did in Bath was go to McDonald's since we were both starving and needed to use the loo and you can do both at McDonald's. We generally stay away from American restaurants but frankly I'm getting tired of English food, which isn't all that great. After eating a mediocre quarter pounder we toured through the Bath Abbey, which is really pretty. The square outside the church was great. There was a kid playing classical guitar which was absolutely beautiful and the architecture was amazing. The ambiance was a lot like Italy and I think that's why I liked it so much.
On the way home we were the last ones on the bus so we had to sit on the back row with a group of about seven 17-yr-old Brits heading home from holiday. They were pretty annoying, but in the end we had a conversation with them about our different cultures. One is going to college in the US on a soccer scholarship.
We finally got back to Oxford at about 7:30 PM so we went and ate at an Italian restaurant then came back and watched "Snatch." Some of the group went to Paris and London and a couple went to Stonehenge. Bobby wanted to go to Stonehenge tomorrow, but decided to hang out here after I said I had to stay and work on my paper. Since I'm going to church on Sunday I won't have time to do it Sunday. I'm looking forward to a break from traveling and sleeping in a bit. I have to figure out how to do my laundry as well.
My new boss emailed me saying she'd like me to start my job on August 6 even though I won't have my security clearance. I would be working at the main building in Silver Spring. I was really looking forward to that two week vacation once I got back and having my bday off. I haven't told her yes or no since I just checked my email. I'm thinking I'd like to take at least a week off.