Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Eighth Week

Today is a day off. I am writing no papers, reading no books. The sun has been peeking out, and it is a beautiful day. I finished my last primary tutorial essay last night, and I have only one more paper to write for Friday before midterm break. Eighth week has certainly arrived.

I am blessed today to be entertaining two visitors: Ted and Brittany Kim. For those of you who don't know them, they led a Bible study I went to in high school. They have continued to be friends and mentors since then, and I am so excited that I get to see them! They are in London for the week, and since Brittany did a semester in Oxford when she was in college, they were more than eager to pay a visit. The should be arriving in about an hour, and we will be going to the Covered Market for lunch.

Tonight, I am going to the choir concert at the Sheldonian Theater in which my two friends, Lisa and Nicole, will be singing. Yay for pretty voices! They've been faithfully attending practices and rehearsals the past eight weeks, even with crazy amounts of schoolwork, and I am very proud of them!

Tomorrow, I will be writing my final paper for my Shakespeare tutorial. I will be glad to be done with that. I will also be baking an apple pie in preparation for what I have deemed Comfort Food Night. The full dinner menu includes oven fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, and apple pie a la mode. I am EXTREMELY excited about consuming this meal. I have already sacrificed a great deal in accomplishing such a culinary feat. Yesterday, I walked home from Tesco (the grocery store about 1 mile away) with 5 kg of potatoes, 2 kg of frozen chicken, 1.5 kg of frozen veggies, 2 L of milk, .6 kg of apples, .25 kg of butter, 1 kg of sugar, and 600 mL of sour cream. All of this totaled approximately 12.6 kg, which is about 28 lbs. I WAS CARRYING ALL OF THIS BY MYSELF. Ouch. Even though I had a backpack, which helped immensely, it was quite the task. My shoulders are very sore today. My downfall was the potatoes: I simply could not pass up the deal of buy one 2.5-kg bag of potatoes, get one free! For only £1.85! I feel like that's a pretty good deal. In fact, my physical expenditure seems quite worth it when I think about the fact that my bill came to only
£12.24 (under $20) for all that food. Oh, the joys of grocery shopping without a car.

Anyway, I think it is about time to wrap up this post and grab a small snack to quiet my grumbling stomach. I will try to post soon with pictures of Oxford in the spring and also from my trip to Scotland! I leave on Friday :D

Once again, I would like to say that God is AWESOME. Amen.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fifth Week

It is now Fifth Week, meaning I am well over half-way done with my tutorials! I have only 3 primary and 2 secondary tutorials left, and then it is on to the post-term. I have been doing pretty well still, with some time management failures but lots of good fun to make up for them :) This past weekend was Lisa's birthday. To celebrate, a bunch of us pooled random food and left-overs for a delicious smorgasbord lunch. We enjoyed nachos, hummus, sloppy joes, french fries, and veggies! This was perhaps my favorite meal ever, as I love to eat random bits of all my favorite things at once :)

Here we are before the feast.

After lunch, we climbed the tower of the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin. From the top, we got to see the beautiful city of Oxford--and it was actually sunny! It was so wonderful to be able to see the city from up high on such a gorgeous day with a bunch of friends. After the tower, we went to G&D's, a local ice cream chain. I split a brownie Sundae with Michelle, and it was delicious! On the way home, we took the opportunity to take cliché British phonebooth pictures. Some locals gave us odd looks and made judgmental comments about us being tourists. We loved it. Overall, this was a great day.

After all the weekend excitement, it was time to buckle down and get to work on my next paper due Tuesday. This was quite the task, but it got done. Goodnight, Dracula. Now, I am trying to get ahead of things. I read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde yesterday for my tutorial next Tuesday. Today, I am spending the day in Cafe Nero reading Hamlet. To coordinate with this task, I am wearing my Shakespeare T-shirt and using
my Much Ado About Nothings sticky notes. I feel so festive. Tomorrow holds the reward for my toils: a field trip to Blenheim Palace and Winston Churchill's grave, followed in the evening with a movie night featuring Jeeves and Wooster (even though, yes, it is a TV show). I'm very excited for the day of rest and adventure!

I can't help but mention that God is awesome for sending me here. I can still hardly believe that I get to study in such a wonderful, rich, and beautiful place. Providence has been very good to me, and I will always cherish my time here!

Here are some more pictures from the past few days:

A view from the top of the tower, looking down on High Street.

The dreaming spires of Oxford.

Lisa and me on the tower balcony.

Michelle, me, and the Brownie Sundae.

Me in a classic British phonebooth.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chapter 1

I have decided that it is time for a chapter of "Weird Things About England." I shall endeavor to enlighten you, my audience, with some of the oddities that I have so far encountered here. We shall start with plumbing.

Here you see a typical British sink. It has two faucets, one for hot water and one for cold water. This becomes extremely irritating and dangerous when you have had the hot water running for too long. Eventually, you can no longer engage the water because it will melt your flesh off.

Here we have a British shower. As you can see, a device accompanies the shower, and this device controls the water pressure and temperature. Unlike American showers, which utilize simple mechanical means to achieve this end, the British have decided that an electronic control system is more appropriate. I disagree. How is one ever to take a shower if the power is out? Also, one can completely neutralize the shower with the switch shown on the right, which in this case is located just OUTSIDE the bathroom. A hooligan could easily cause great bathing misfortune by walking by and flipping the switch, and the showerer would have no defense!

Another odd utilization of electricity is for the doors on the washing machine and the dryer. Instead of a normal sort of handle, the doors must be opened using the orange key button shown in the photograph. As the sign on the machine clearly warns, the door CANNOT be opened if the device is not plugged into a source of electricity. These Brits must never worry about power outages.

Now we come to some more normal applications of electricity. Outlets. What is so odd about British outlets? Well, first of all, they are so oddly shaped...and huge. It is quite an inefficient design, if I do say so myself. Second, each and every outlet has its own switch. Appliance not working? Have you tried turning the outlet on? In America, we mostly assume that an outlet is just on (except for some, which are controlled by a light switch near the entrance of the room). However, here, you can control each individual outlet.

Now, lights. Admittedly, their typical light switches are very similar to America's. However, instead of down being off and up being on, the British have it the least in our house. As you can see from the picture below, this switch is down, meaning it is on. It makes so much sense. Not. Also, in the bathrooms, light switches would be apparently too simple, so they have pull cords instead. I still don't understand this.

We now come to the issue of door knobs. As you may note from the two pictures below, the British love door knobs. Many doors have more than one knob. Which, you might ask, is the working knob? Well, the only door knob photographed here that is actually functional is the silver one in the first picture. It is tiny and very awkward to use to pull an entire door with. Irritating.

And then there is this plant. I don't know what it thinks it is doing, but it is
weird and in England, so it was included in this list.

For now, this is all I have to say. Tune in next time for another excited chapter of "Weird Things About England." I may have something to say about the weird things British people say, or something else that is sure to bewilder and astound.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Finding Rhythm

Now it seems like I have been here forever! I've loved finally getting into the swing of tutorials and actually working. I am still figuring out the balance between school and everything else, but I am definitely enjoying the independent style of studying here.

We are now beginning Week 2 of term. This means that I have my first secondary tutorial coming up on Friday. Of course, I still have my primary tutorial tomorrow, as I shall have every week until midterm break. I am nearing the point in my reading and research for this week when I actually need to start writing...very soon...any minute now. However, I am taking a short break before the composition commences. After I finish writing for primary, I must read Macbeth and write a paper on the imagery of children and infants by Friday at noon. Luckily for that tutorial, I don't need to do any secondary research; I just need to form my own ideas about what the text has to say. That task may or may not be easier than finding scholars who already have said what I think. I'll let you know what the results are.

Living here in the house is a lot of fun. There are 23 of us living here at 8 Crick Rd., so there's always a few people around at the very least. Most of us have settled into food groups. My food group consists of 7 people, including Sam (our Junior Dean, which is kind of like an RA), Lisa, Monica, Jake, other Jake, Nicole, and myself. We take turns cooking dinner in partners (except Sam, who cooks alone). It's nice not to have to cook for myself every single night, and it is definitely a lot cheaper! Nicole, my cooking partner, and I made some delicious chili last night. It's also very interesting trying to find some ingredients for recipes we like to make in the States. We have to do a little bit of exploring and improvising sometimes. Let's just say that salsa in Britain is not at all like salsa in the States.

Last Saturday (the 15th) a group of us went to London for a walking tour. We got to see a lot of the typical tourist sights and explore a beautiful city. In some ways, London reminded me a little of Chicago. In some areas, the architecture is very similar, and the Tube feels just like the "L." Here are some pictures from the day:

The gates of Buckingham Palace.

Me and Tower Bridge.

Me and Big Ben!

St. Paul's Cathedral.

St. Paul's was definitely my favorite part of the trip. We went to an Evensong service, and it was absolutely beautiful! I wish I could show you pictures from inside, but cameras are not allowed. Our group got to sit in the choir stalls, so we could hear the full majesty of the hymns sung by the boys' choir. If you ever make it to London, you have to go to St. Paul's; it is quite the experience.

Well, now I ought to go back to my studies like a good little student. A preview of things to come includes the possibility of a day trip to Bath this weekend! Also, midterm break will likely see a trip to Paris! I also hope to make it to Scotland one of these weeks. I love traveling!

I send my love to everyone back in the good old USA, and I will hopefully post again soon!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The First Week

I can hardly believe that I've been here for less than a week. I am already feeling somewhat at home, so that's good. I'm starting to get to know my way around town, and I'm even getting used to the mostly constant cold and rain.

The first couple days here were spent getting to know the other students and the staff of our program. They gave us plenty of time to settle in, explore, and get over our jet lag! I slept soundly the first night out of pure exhaustion, but the next couple nights weren't so great. I would sleep for a couple hours but then wake up and not be able to fall back asleep for about four more hours! However, I have slept through the night for the past two nights. Thank the Lord for being able to stay asleep!

On Saturday, I slept in pretty late but then went exploring with a couple other students, Jake and Chris. We walked into town and saw a little bit of the river as well. We stopped in a couple shops, including Alice's Shop, an Alice in Wonderland themed souvenir type place :) It was a beautiful day to be out and about since the sun was actually shining. We headed back to our house, and later the staff had organized a movie night for all of us. We watched Chicken Run and had Papa John's Pizza!

Sunday was another day that I slept in after a tough night. In the afternoon, I went exploring again, this time with my wonderful roommates: Lisa, Elaine, and Monica.
We had tea time when we got back, and then many of us went to church at St. Ebbes, an evangelical church here in Oxford. The service was very similar to anything y
ou could find in the states, but the building was quite pretty.

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were filled with orientation activities. We started a documentary series on the History of Britain, listened to helpful hints on academic pursuits, and went on a couple of tours. Some of it was
boring, but a lot of it has been interesting. We jump into tutorials (our main classes) starting next week. By next Tuesday, I have to read Jane Eyre, research using several secondary sources, and write a 2,500 word essay. All of that is for one tutorial: Victorian Literature. I will also be working on a Shakespeare tutorial, which meets every other week. My tutor for that one is having a pre-term meeting with all his students at the King's Arm Pub this Friday. It should be interesting. I will also be attending lectures and seminars covering various topics.

I'm really excited to get started on everything. We are also going to London on Saturday for some tourist excitement. I will leave you with a few pictures from here around town.

This is my house, where I live.

This is the library (well, one of them), where I study.

This is the Bridge of Sighs, modeled after a bridge in Venice.

This is the Eagle and Child, the famous pub where the Inklings often hung out.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Well, Thursday is here! I'm sitting in my living room, staring at the three bags containing everything I will have for the next four months. I can't believe I fit everything into one large suitcase, one small suitcase, and one backpack. Insane! I even finished packing early! This is all very unlike me.

I will be leaving the house in approximately one hour. I will drop my car off with Deirdre--who is leasing it while I am gone :)-- and then Mom and I will swing by Dad's house to say goodbye. Then, it's off to the airport! This is the first time that I will be leaving the continent, and I will be by myself. I'm excited and a little nervous about the whole thing. However, I know that God is sending me to Oxford because it's part of His plan. I do feel a strange sense of peace about going, and at first, that feeling freaked me out. How could I be doing this crazy thing without freaking out?! I felt that I needed to freak out to make it all seem real, but I'm mostly over that now. I'll let you know how I do once the reality actually sets in!

I just want to personally, publicly thank God for His provision. He certainly has set everything into place quite nicely. Hopefully, I won't go screwing it up! Your prayers for me are deeply appreciated and felt. God bless!

Here goes nothing :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Before I Go

I am departing to England on Thursday, January 6th in the evening. This reality has yet to sink in. I still have much to do, but I figured I would start this blog before I actually leave so that I will remember to actually work on it! My goal is to post at least once a week. We'll see how that goes :) I hope that I can at least provide those interested with a glimpse into my adventure in Oxford. I'm anxious and excited, but I know that this experience will be amazing. For this reason, I wish to share all about it--and also because I know you care about me and may hear nothing much else from me while I am gone!

Here's to adventure, academia, and Annie. Cheerio!