Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Glimpse of Oxford

It's amazing what one can do in a 48 hour span. And how many miles can be walked. And how little sleep can be had. Even though I think my ankles might break off any minute, I wouldn't have traded one step for all that I was able to explore today. Not much happened yesterday and to be honest, it was such a blur that I don't remember a whole lot. But here are a few things that I have learned about "Oxfordians" and the way of life here.

It didn't take me long to realize that we Americans are LOUD. It all started on the bus ride from London, when I was seated towards the front of the bus and my other American friends were in the back. In my opinion my friends were talking at a normal decibel, but compared to the complete lack of utterance of even a groan from the front of the bus, it made us sound like bulls in a china shop! When they do speak, I find myself inching closer and closer because everyone is so softspoken. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to criticize in any way. I actually respect them all the more for it because they simply understand that less is more, and treating others with manners and formality is a virtue that we Americans could definitely take a few notes from.

Secondly, the bathrooms here are really entertaing. Exhibit A (read the fine print in the blue, if you can)...
Third, do not set fire to the library. One of the highlights of today was being inducted into the monstrous Bodleian Library. Just to give you an idea of how impeccable this library actually is, there are approximately 11 million books underground that span blocks beneath the city. We were first taken into the room pictured below where Parliament was once held! We weren't able to go into any of the reading rooms, but there will be plenty of time for that once we receive our reading lists from out tutors and are locked up inside studying. Fun fact: you cannot check out books from the library. Even King Charles was turned down when he sent a formal request for a book. The second picture is the actual induction where I recited the oath (containing the part about "I will not set fire to the library") and then gave my signature. It's crazy that I actually have access to this incredible library and all of its magnificent books!

After that was when things really got fun. For one thing, the sun came out! I'll never take the beautiful sunshine of Mississippi for granted again. Just as the sun burst out of the clouds we embarked on a beautiful 2 hour walking tour that mainly consisted of touring a few of the college campuses. Another fun fact, the name "Oxford" actually came to be because River Thames was actually a "ford" where the "oxen" crossed before bridges and such were made. Who's the cow college now TSUN?? Anyhow, the first college we came to was Trinity College. Isn't it absolutely gorgeous? How is that grass so green you say? It's because no one is allowed to even step one foot on it unless you are either a tutor or a recent graduate of the college. The thought of not being allowed to walk on the Drill Field sounds preposterous, but then again, this is Oxford and they can do whatever the heck they want. The second college we went to was New College where apparently a very famous boy choir is home to. In fact, they were doing a recording for BBC while we were there. Hopefully we'll get the chance to see them during our stay. Forgot to mention that I found out that I will be a member of Christ's Church a.k.a. Hogwarts!! We weren't able to make it into CC before the doors closed today but I will be officially inducted on Friday, adorned with robes and all!
After the walking tour we decided to set out to find the 8's, which is the name for the infamous rowing competition between all of the colleges. It started today and will go until finals on Saturday. All I can say is I think we may have found a rivalry that may beat MSU vs. TSUN. I've never heard so much screaming in my life from the enthusiastic fans who are so loyal to their individual colleges. By the way, there are 38 colleges that make up Oxford University. It was the perfect setting just along the River Thames right behind Christ Church meadows. There were geese wandering about with their ducklings, families strolling along the river bank, and lots of people dressed in speedos adorned with each school's crest. I am absolutely amazed at the sport and can't wait to watch the growing competition in the coming days!
We ended our wonderful day with a warm dinner in a nice little pub called "The Crown" which was tucked away in a little alley off the street. Interestingly enough, I ordered a burger which ended up being a nice little taste of home. 

Well, tomorrow we're headed off to Stratford to see "As You Like It". I can't wait to see the place where Shakespeare's imagination came to life. We leave at 10:00 a.m. and don't return until after midnight, but I'll be sure to update at some point on Friday. Until then, cheers!

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