Sunday, September 30, 2007

Oxford: The Beginnings...

(My house in Oxford)



I've finally moved to Oxford!!!!! Well, I am currently sitting in London, but I spent the second half of the week up there moving in to my room, getting various errands done, getting the lay of things, etc. This is what I discovered:
1) Oxford is colder than London. I also keep forgetting that it's not still the end of summer.
2) You need a bike. I think I walked 12 miles the first day. I now have a bike.
3) My room is huuuuuuuge!!!! It has a fireplace (which I am not allowed to use), a conservatory that opens onto the very large back garden, a nice kitchen around the corner, kooky wallpaper in the hall, and a friendly housekeeper.

(My room...part of it at least)











4) Graduate sub-fusc gowns are particularly ugly. Well, actually kind of cool as well. The are quite short, with now sleeves, and women wear a black ribbon tie and a squishy black cap. I get to wear it for Matriculation (on the 13th in the Sheldonian), for some dinners, and various other things.
5) My college (Linacre, see www.linacre.ox.ac.uk) has good food. And nice people. Very nice. And it's a lovely walk from my house through the University Parks (http://www.parks.ox.ac.uk/introduction/).
6) I live very very close to the Parks, particularly nice for runs. I can get from there to Mesopotamia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesopotamia,_Oxford), where I can see lots of birds (swans, herons, geese, ducks, mockingbirds, and many more).
7) The English building at Oxford is one of the ugliest.
8) All in all, I am very very excited :).

My few days up there were quite busy, trying to get money sorted, coursework, errands, bank account, etc. etc. A friend from home came to visit as well, so Dean and I walked with around Oxford, in the Christchurch Meadows and such. We had dinner at Linacre (excellent food) and a drink at the King's Arms (for Crowley). I'm back in London just for the weekend to get more stuff and see a few people. Dean, Meagan, and I went to Spitalfields Market this morning just to look around and take pictures...



(notice the brownie samples...there was a pile about three feet high of brownies)


unfortunately the food hall is closed for construction but we enjoyed The Big Draw London, which included random people setting up sketch books for the public and placing models for the public to draw. I would add pictures but I can't seem to get them to flip the right direction on the blog. Anyhow, it was fun. I'm back to Oxford tomorrow for some orientation/induction/fresher's week stuff...a full day with the English Faculty on Tuesday and various events from meetings to wine tastings for the next week. Lectures start next week...

Friday, September 21, 2007

London, Smokers, Beekeeping, and Rare Books...

Smoking bans are brilliant, brilliant, inventions. Every country should have them. The difference it makes to going out, even walking by a restaurant or bar, and being able to breeeeeaaaathe!!! But. What amazes me is the number of people who complain about the ban, swear they will have to quit smoking, and then don't. Smoking kills you. Smoking in Britain now means sitting in some little "garden" area, in summer possible a pleasant patio, in winter a few tables exiled to the outdoors. And. It's COLD. At midnight, even in September, it's FREEZING. Is that all really worth it?

Anyhow. That's my smoking rant for now. Even with the smoke or lack of it, I've had a lovely relaxing week with no job or schoolwork to worry me. I have to be up in Oxford next Wednesday for my first orientation, and I've been looking confusedly at my lecture lists, and I'm starting to feel little niggles of stress. Mostly, however, my days consist of waking up at a decent time, dancing or running, then reading/drinking tea/listening to, or, as time went on, trying to drown out the sounds of Dean's too familiar final project track. I do have a lot of reading to get to, but it's fairly enjoyable. And Dean has been too busy to do anything, so it seems to have worked out just right.

I did go to a Claremont Colleges Happy Hour earlier this week, where I met a handful of Claremont alums. I also went to see a play that Meagan designed (for those of you who don't know, Meagan is just finishing her Master's in Theatre Design). It would sound fairly melodramatic if I described it (well I will anyhow: after arriving in London to stay with a girl with whom he had a three week fling, the lead catches her with another guy and goes to the house of the only other person he knows in London, a crazy, forgetful, pack rat ish, deaf, rather ethereal girl he met on the tube that day. They spend quite some time together, she disappears, he searches for her, sort of moves on and goes back to original girl, sees her at end, trauma. See? It sounds melodramatic). BUT it was one of the best plays I have ever seen. The actors were excellent; the design was perfect, thanks to Meagan; I enjoyed it more than any play I've seen in quite a long time. And it had a Scottish beekeeper in it.

Dean finishes tomorrow, so I'll be meeting Kim, another Scrippsie, for lunch and then heading up to meet his class for drinks. I'm hoping to catch one of the new exhibits at the victoria and Albert Museum, either on Lee Miller or Paris Couture (see www.vam.ac.uk). Both sound amazing, but the couture one only opens tomorrow so it might be a bit crazy trying to get in.

Ahhhh...I FINALLY made my way to the little tiny rare books/used books shop in Chiswick High Road. If anyone's seen Black Books, picture that but smaller. If not, just think tiny shop, piles of books, very nice. Lots and lots of lovely illustrated books from my childhood...Blue Fairy and Olive Fairy and Peter Pan and The Princess and the Goblin. As well as some very nicely done Irish histories and an illustrated copy of The Informer (for you Dad). And on that note, I almost wish I had just finished school instead of just starting, because the Rambert Dance Company (very very famous) is looking for an archivist for their extensive dance archives....

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I'm off....finally...a quick hello...

Portland is wonderful. For innumerable reasons. For the moment, my top reason is free wifi. Everywhere you go. Specfically, in the airport :).

I'm waiting for my first flight to Vancouver, and from there to London. Funny how many times I've done this, never really thinking much about leaving. This time was much harder, and I'm not entirely sure why. I suppoe I don't really know when I'll be coming back again for more than a few weeks. It could be next year, might be the year after, but I'm not really sure and it's bothering me a little bit. Also in part because this summer ended up being so much fun, with everyone home and lots of good Portland things to keep me busy. And Mom was crying, and even my grandpa started to tear up a little.

At risk of sounding to reluctant, however, I should emphasise the crazy amounts of excitement that are flying around in me....SO EXCITED!!!! For Oxford, and the twenty million books I will be reading, and London, and DEAN :).