Saturday, October 30, 2010

Various sorts of excellent adventures

Hello hello hello!
It has been a sad long time since I have updated, and since quite a few fun little events have past, I thought I would write some of them down.

1. The First Junior Common Room Party!
This was an excellent night of fun, held last Friday at The Vines. We had soda floats, and a construction paper clothing contest. I made a Robin Hood costume, complete with hat with feather, quiver and arrows, and a bow, all out of paper. There were so many other awesome creations, including a gnome, the pope, a river, the white witch, and many more. By the vote of the JCR, I won best over all! The prize was a fantastic Oxford calender for next year, so I can look at pictures of Oxford all through 2011 :-) After the contest we watched Singin' in the Rain, which was my first time seeing, what a great film!

Speaking of another great film, I also watched Space Odyssey: 2001 for the first time a few nights ago, and it was CRAZY, but also incredible. I kind of want to watch again soon.

2. On Wednesday, I had a rather stinky day. I got behind on my essays, and forgot to claim the crockpot so my plan for dinner for my food group was thrown for a loop. In my flusteredness (hehe, made up a word) at having to come up with something new, I forgot to go to my second long essay consultation, which was rather horrible. In Oxford, you don't just miss stuff. It's considered really rude to do that, so I was feeling horrible. I rushed around, returning library books and writing a very formal and sincere apology email to my adviser, then ran to a grocery store and grabbed some Jamaican jerk sauce to dump on my chicken and cook it as my slapdash meal. By the time I got home, I had about 25 minutes before I had to start cooking. I took that time to have a little cry, then write down a list of everything happy and good that had happened that day to keep myself from getting too discouraged. The meal turned out well, and the rest of the night was good, so God really turned that one around for me.

3. Friday I had my Shakespeare tutorial (we talked about Shakespeare's portrayal of Jews in The Merchant of Venice) and afterward, since I didn't really have anything pressing, I meandered home slowly, stopping in lots of little shops. I found so many things that would work as great Christmas presents! Then, when I got home, I had a tea party with some of the other Vinerians, and just generally lazed about. I read about 100 pages of Oliver Twist, but that was the extent of my productiveness.

4. Today, I got up later than usual and ate a chocolate muffin for breakfast. It was one of the best chocolate muffins I have ever had. I read all of Much Ado about Nothing, and some more Oliver Twist, and then after a great skype chat with Josiah, I went punting!
It was a perfect day to be on the water. The sun was going down a little, so it was glinting off the river and making everything nice and glowy, but it was also chilly. There were lots of ducks around, and one of the Vinerian girls in my boat, Bethany, found an apple floating in the water and starting feeding chunks of it to them. One duck came close enough for me to touch it on the tail! Towards the end of the trip, I decided to have a go at being the Punt-master, so I took over for a bit from Ben. It was pretty difficult, because those poles are so long, but I after a little while I started to get the hang of it a little more. When we were bringing our boat back and waiting for the others to bring theirs, we saw a guy take his lady friend out, and man, he was a PRO. He wheedled that boat around super tight turns and was using his pole like a rudder and was looking pretty professional. Then he drove into the branches of a tree, so we felt that he was human after all. We felt pretty good about ourselves for doing so well, especially since our Junior Dean, Graham(ps) said that we would have a hard time of it. (Ho ho, Graham! we showed you!)
After punting, we went to a coffee shop for little while, then me and Bethany and Zach went back to the Vines. Later, I played a great game of Settlers of Catan with Burk, Lydia, Daniel, and Zach, which included some nice Celtic background music that made it seem more peasant-y. haha.
And now I am blogging to put off doing more work. Ugh. I just need to buckle down.
Ok, over and out.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oxford-y day

It's been a week. I met one of my tutors on friday, saw a friend from Messiah saturday, went to lunch at someone's house from church on sunday, and since then it has been papers, papers, papers and lectures.
We are required to go to at least 32 lectures this term, but it is not really that bad of a requirement, because you don't have to do anything for them except listen :-). So far I am going to a series on Oscar Wilde, Approaches to Shakespeare (basically, how to write papers on Shakespeare, something that will come in very hand for my tutorial), Reading Virginia Woolf (useful for my long essay), Shakespeare the Big Four (Tragedies), hopefully J.R.R. Tolkien and also a series teaching Old Norse! I'm looking forward to going to all of these.

I thought I would just give you an idea of my day today, which seems to be somewhat an average one (perhaps a little more running around than usual).

Got up at 8:15, ate a crumbly scone, ate a clementine and drank some tea, then headed off to the English Faculty building for a lecture on Dickens. Wished for a fried egg.

Arrive at lecture to find it is only for people in a certain writing course. Super bummers.

Go to library and edit my paper for a while, and decide that I am way too wordy. Talk with two SCIO students who also are there.

 Go to Frewin Court. I get stuck behind slow walkers many times. I also get caught in a sea of waist high little school boys, all in matching dark blue jackets. They hold each others' hands and walk across the road, and I feel very gigantic. I walk down Cornmarket street and there is a man busking, playing a song from the old Willy Wonka in jazz style, you know the one he sings in the chocolate room? ''If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it...'' Totally sweet. This type of thing a common occurrence on Cornmarket. There are buskers all the time, and normally very good ones.

I arrive at Frewin and wait for a meeting with my adviser for my long essay. We talk a bit, and he suggests I also read Orlando by Virginia Woolf to go with my rather hazy topic of Woolf and depictions of art (in the broad sense). I wrote a paper on To the Lighthouse on that subject, and I very much enjoyed the idea, and wished that I could expand on it, so that's what I'm going to do for my long essay.

Now I am going to edit my paper yet again...maybe write some more of the Macbeth one, who knows.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Vacation in Edinburgh

Are you ready for a monster post? I am going to try to consolidate this...

Sept 30
Imperial war museum in London in the afternoon. War is the worst, in case any one was wondering. Pretty much every single artifact and exhibit there seemed to have "this is rotten stuff" written all over it. So after that depressing field trip, we (the people going to Scotland and Nice, France) walked around the city. I had a rolling suitcase and felt like a dork, but was later glad that went ahead a packed a little heavier than most people because of the rain and wind in Scotland. We sat for a while in St. James' park, then went for dinner at the Spaghetti House near Victoria Coach station...delicious! We then played cards for a while while waiting for our bus (which was leaving at 11 pm.) At the proper time, the Scotland bound group bid goodbye to the France bound, who were going by plane.

Oct 1
After a VERY long overnight bus ride, we (myself, Stephanie, Janae, Weston, David, Jana, and Corey) arrived in Edinburgh at around 8 ish. I slept probably only about 4 out of the 9 hours. After much map consultation, we located our Hostel, Castle Rock Hostel. It is aptly named, with a great view of the Edinburgh castle right from the front door. It was an excellent hostel, voted 5th best in the world, actually! And only 14 pounds a night! We couldn't check in until 2 pm, so we left our luggage there, and bought some breakfast there for cheap. We went on a free walking tour of the city put on by NewEurope company. It was really informative and well done...We heard some great stories about things like the Stone of Destiny and how it was stolen by the English, and then stolen back in the 50's by some Scottish Nationalist students (look that story up, it's awesome!) and famous Edinburgh characters, like Greyfriars Bobby, Deacon Brodie, William Burke and William Hare, and Half-Hanged Maggie. I recommend looking up all of those, because they are really interesting, but I don't have room to write all their stories. The weather was rather gross, cold rain and wind, and some of us needed to buy some waterproof jackets, so after the tour we went shopping. Then we had a nice evening of hanging out and playing cards.

Oct 2
We got up and were going to go to museums, but the weather was really nice, so instead we got on a bus to Cramond, a coastal town. We walked on the beach, picking up shells and sitting on the rocks and shuffling along. It was fantastic. Then, when the tide was low enough, we walked across on the previously submerged land bridge to Cramond Island. We bought some ice creams first though, in proper vacation fashion. The island was incredible. It was all greens and yellow lichen and red shrubs, square boulders and wind. There was a little wooded area toward the center, which we walked through. In the center of the woods was a old ruined stone house, overtaken by vines, but some of the window sills and doors and portions of walls still there. You could make out where the rooms used to be. I felt like someone right out of a book, and I plan to use that scene in a novel, if I ever write one. I took pictures, but it doesn't do it justice, and it can't capture the delight in discovering it, either. I'm sure it had been discovered many times before, since the path led up to it, but because I wasn't expecting to find it, it was just wonderful. We spent a while on the island, and then walked back across the land bridge, and back to our bus stop. We returned to Edinburgh and went to Starbucks to read and have hot drinks. We didn't read much, but did have a lively, at times almost heated debate about moral culpability. It was great fun :-)

Oct. 3
We went to St. Giles Cathedral (not a true cathedral, since the Scottish Presbyterian church doesn't have bishops, and cathedrals are the seats of bishops) for church. It was very lovely, and again liturgical. We sang a hymn that I liked a lot, but had never heard before...I wrote the name down somewhere, but I don't remember it now. After church, we went out to the museums. We saw the National Museum of Scotland and the National Gallery as well. I was surprised, the gallery had some big names in there! There were several pieces by Monet, Cezanne, Gaugin, Renoir, Degas, Raphael, Botticelli, and even Da Vinci. We again went to Starbucks, but this time, some of our other Vines friends, Burk and Lydia, visited us from their vacation in Glasgow, so that was fun. We made spaghetti for dinner and played cards for many hours. I learned to play a new game called Kempes which is great fun.

Oct 4.
Jana, Weston, Corey, and David went back to Oxford a day early, leaving in the morning. Janae, Stephanie and I stayed in Scotland, and took a day trip further inland to the town of Stirling, the site of William Wallace's most famous battle, and also of the huge monument to him. We climbed up the monument and could see the whole area--the river forth all shiny and snakey, the lumpy hills all mottled with greens, yellows, browns and reds, and the wind farms far off in the distance. I wanted so badly to be a giant for a while so that I could climb up the hills and sit on them. They were a bit flat on top, so they looked like the perfect sitting place. After climbing down the 267 stairs of the monument, we hiked in the woods around the monument. There were ferns every where, and just as much lichen. The grass was so wonderful. It was very short, like it had been manicured, but I don't think it was. It was almost moss-like, it was so cushy. And it was so amazingly, I've never seen something so green! Again, I took pictures, but they didn't do it justice.
When we returned to Edinburgh, we went to a new coffee shop called Chocolate Soup and sat and read for an hour or two. I had a drink that tasted just like Vanilla Milk, and it made me miss home a little bit. Then, we had a dinner of fresh bread, hummus and ham at the hostel, and just sat and talked for a long time. It was so nice and relaxing! Taking hours to talk is not something we have a lot of time for in Oxford.

Oct. 5

We got up in the morning, checked out of the hostel and were on our bus back at 11 am. There isn't much to tell about the ride back, except that it was very long again. There was some fantastic scenery on the way back though...we drove along the coast for a while, and I looked out the window once and saw a great view of some sheep on top of a super green hillock, with just the sea behind them. We arrived in London 20 minutes before our bus to Oxford left, so we just sat around a little while. We got in at about 10:30 at Oxford.
All in all, it was a GREAT vacation! And I came back with my desired souvenir: a wool scarf in my family's clan tartan! I love it!

Just quickly recapping yesterday and today, we had orientation for our tutorials, and I emailed both my tutors to set up times to meet. I am a lot less nervous than I was for them...I am actually really looking forward to it! I am a little nervous about how my papers will be received, but there is no telling until I've submitted stuff to them, so I won't worry about that until I have to actually do it. Today I just worked on reading Middlemarch some more (which I will do again after I finish updating this!), and then went to Fresher's Fair, which is the big club and organizations fair for freshman. I put my name down on a bunch of different lists, including choirs, Scottish and Irish dancing, and archery...I'm not really sure about which one I want to do! I really will only have time for one of them, so I need to choose wisely. We got lots of great coupons too, like free pizza, and half off ice cream cones. Natalie and I took advantage of the ice cream right away. I had some blueberry ice cream which was FANTASTIC! I want to go back to that place again, because they also offer Green Tea ice cream! Well, that is all for now! time to read.