30 March 2009

Go Blues!

Yesterday was the 155th Oxford v. Cambridge Boat Race in London. Started as a wager between two friends (one at Oxford and one at Cambridge), it has evolved into one of the pivotal events of the Oxbridge academic year, with each university's pride at stake. This year both teams boasted several Olympic medalists, and so it promised to be a great race. I remember looking up the date back in October and being quite disappointed that I would be unable to attend (since I would be in Edinburgh and, at that point, I did not like Oxford enough to merit coming back). Little did I know that I would be spending my entire spring break here!

After a rough start, in which I forgot to set my clock forward an hour to adjust for British Summertime and therefore missed meeting everyone at CMRS at 9;30, we left for London around 10:30. We (Fiona, Veronica, and I) arrived at 12:45, navigated the Tube, took a bus (because the one Tube station that we needed to switch lines at to get to Hammersmith was closed without warning), and eventually found our way to Hammersmith Bridge. It was absolutely ridiculous how many people were there already! It was so crowded that I felt as if I were toothpaste being squeezed through a tube. The Championship Course for the race is 4 miles long, with Hammersmith Bridge being roughly halfway along. It is one of the more popular spots, but nowhere near as popular as the start or finish lines. I estimate that there must have been around 4,000 people at the Hammersmith/Furnival Gardens area, so I can't even imagine what it must have been like at those other locations.

At 3:20, we were joined by Julie (from CMRS) and we fought the crowds in an attempt to find a good place to view the race (or, rather, the two minutes of it that would pass us). Unfortunately, it was so crowded that we were only able to grab a spot behind a large barge. However, with a bit of creative positioning and camera zoom techniques, I was able to grab a shot of the boats as they passed. I can't even begin to describe the atmosphere in the gardens. Cambridge and Oxford supporters turned out boasting their best light blue (Cambridge) and dark blue (Oxford) clothing. An excited tension was almost palpable after someone (looking at the large screen television showing the race) announced that they had started.

The cheering spread in a wave as the boats came into view around the bend before Hammersmith Bridge, gradually coming to our area. It was wonderful to feel part of something larger as I cheered 'OX-FORD' and 'OLD BLUE' once again (the first time having been at the rugby game in December). After the boats had passed from view, we ran to the field to see the large screen and watch the rest of the race. Cambridge had taken the lead early on, but appeared to have expended their effort too early to maintain such a high stroke rate. As a result, Oxford had passed them by the time they came to Hammersmith and only furthered their lead throughout the rest of the race. They finished in 17 minutes and three lengths ahead. It was amazing and I loved the entire event.

Afterwards, we took the Tube back to Victoria, had dinner at The Shakespeare, and then headed back to Oxford, where I participated in my last pub ever pub quiz at Far From the Madding Crowd (since I will be in Dublin next Sunday and the following week is Easter).

Schedule for the next few weeks:
Tuesday, 31 March: 'History Boys/Wine Night' at CMRS.
Wednesday, 1 April: Trip to Bath (If I am allowed to go with CMRS. I hope I am as I had such a lovely time at Hampton Court Palace).
Thursday, 2 April: Registration for Fall 2009 classes at 2:45PM; Lecture at the Sheldonian Theatre by the Turkish Prime Minister (Must remember to pick up tickets from the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies)
Friday, 3 April: Leave for Dublin!
Saturday, 4 April: DUBLIN
Sunday, 5 April: DUBLIN
Tuesday, 7 April: Trip to Cambridge (I insist on visiting every place that I apply to graduate school for if only to convince myself that it is the right decision).
Wednesday, 15 April: Return to Edinburgh.
Wednesday, 22 April: Graduate School Interview at St. Andrews

27 March 2009

To celebrate officially being on spring break and done with all of my coursework for my third year of college, I joined Karen, her father, and Ashleigh for a walk to the town of Binsley. It was an absolutely wonderful day. We walked through a meadow filled with horses, visited the Treacle well (St. Margaret's) and Karen's father treated us to lunch at the Perch.

26 March 2009

Give Me One Reason to Stay Here, And I'll Turn Right Back Around

Hampton Court Palace was lovely, but more on that later.

I am currently finishing my last essay of my third undergraduate year whilst sitting in the History Faculty Library (which I like a little bit less than St. Peter's College and a bit more than the Bodleian). It is hard to concentrate on coursework when you can simply look outside to Broad Street and people-watch. (It is currently raining fiercely so most people are running for shelter.)

Once this essay is done, I still need to finish my internship applications (two are due tomorrow) and start some graduate school applications. I have an interview at St. Andrews on the 22nd of April, so perhaps it might be best to make sure that my personal statement and future goals are quite clearly defined.

I am so going to miss Oxford. Part of me feels like it might not even be worth it to apply to the University because I am afraid that the rejection will ruin my fondness for the city.

23 March 2009

We've Got Nothing To Lose

Wow. I leave Edinburgh and my blog suddenly becomes quite popular.

Wednesday: After saying goodbye to my flatmates, I lugged my duffel bag and backpack the two miles to Waverley train station. After getting lost whilst looking for my platform, I finally boarded the train to Glasgow. It was interesting to get to see the Scottish countryside, especially I have remained mainly in Edinburgh during my time in Scotland. When I come back in April I am going to make a concerted effort towards visiting more of the country. I got off at Glasgow Queen and found my way to Central station where I boarded the train towards Ayr. I arrived at Prestwick Airport roughly three hours before my flight was due to depart, checked my baggage, and settled in for the long wait. The flight itself was not that bad, although the landing terrified me (as we ended up skidding onto the grass). I caught the bus from Stansted to London, and then the Oxford Tube to Oxford, arriving roughly twenty minutes before 2AM. As always, I find that there are no words to adequately describe the mixture of exhileration and excitement that struck me as the bus drove down the Cowley road. I was coming home. Still, I must admit that this visit is a bit bittersweet for me. In all likelihood, it is the last time that I will ever come to Oxford.

After moving in at Woodbine Place (past the Castle and the Quaking Bridge), I went shopping at Primark for those things that I had been unable to bring down from Edinburgh and which are necessities for life (such as bed linen and shampoo). I met Karen at the Mitre for tea, relaxed a bit back at my room, and then went to CMRS to watch 'Skins' in the common room. It was weird being back at St. Michael's Hall. Part of me wants to still consider it home, but it is not. I kept expecting to see Elysa in room 25 or Tony wrapped up in the blue comforter in the corner of the common room.

I had hoped to see Karen off to the train station on Friday morning before she left for Paris; however, we each had our respective problems in getting up on time and I missed her. I spent most of the day in the Bodleian's Upper Camera beginning my research. Things are progressing well, but I can already tell that I am going to tire of the Jacobites very soon. Friday night was Tristan's 23rd birthday party at the Turf where I met his parents. It was...as awkward as one might expect. The evening ended rather poorly, but such is life.

I had intended to get to the Bod early on Saturday, but was thwarted in my efforts due to the fact that the Oxford Folk Festival was taking place on New Rd, Cornmarket, Queen, and Broad. I got so distracted watching the parades of Morris dancers that I didn't get to work until 12. Still, as I sat on Cornmarket listening to the music and enjoying the beautiful weather, I realized that I had made the right decision in coming south for break. I was...content. More than that, I was (and still am) the happiest that I have been in a long time. Not to say that I was unhappy in Edinburgh, but Oxford is...different. It holds an appeal for me that cannot be explained. Being here is absolutely wonderful. Anyways, after putting in a few hours of research, I went running in Christ Church (amazing, as always).

On Sunday the Bod was closed and so I went running in Christ Church for several hours. The weather was beautiful and, as it was Mothering Sunday, loads of families were about the meadows. It was a bit sad for me since my own mother is, of course, back home in the States. I wish that she could come to Oxford to see the place that I love. To make matters worse, I will also be missing the US Mother's Day. I suppose that I will have to make it up to her whilst I am home for the summer. Sunday afternoon was spent at tea with Veronica and then making a (failed) attempt to greet Karen at the train station. We went to pub quiz at Far From the Madding Crowd, to O'Neills for a round, and then hung out at CMRS for a while.

I am happy. This is the best decision that I have made.

22 March 2009

Schedule Next Semester?

The schedule of courses appeared on the Portal today, causing me to freak out and plan out my schedule for next semester.

Granted, this all depends on what I can get into. However, at the moment my ideal schedule is as follows:

1. ANTH357: Archaeological Analysis/Curation. Tuesday/Thursday 2:00-3:50PM
2. HIST395: Theories and Uses of History. Monday/Wednesday 2:40-4:30.
3. HIST493: St. Mary's Project (Whenever)
4. POSC318: Politics of Terrorism Monday/Wednesday/Friday 1:20-2:30
5. POSC345: Politics of the Middle East Monday/Wednesday/Friday 10:40-11:50 OR
POSC351: Constitutional Law (at the same time as the other class)

I can definitely get into the two history and the one anth class. It is going to be a pain in the ass getting the overload and into the politics courses. However, I want to get into poli sci honor society so...yeah.

21 March 2009

I arrived safely. I am having the time of my life and have not been this happy in ages.

I will update my blog soon (with a real post). Perhaps tomorrow.

18 March 2009

She's across the ocean, relaxing in new English gardens....

After an absolutely hellish weekend, life has once again improved (as I hoped it would). Saturday and Sunday were spent locked in my room researching and writing my two 3000 word papers. 3000 words is not that much to write (12 pages), but I've been having the worst writer's block this term. What happened to being able to easily whip out a paper in 4 hours? Is this a sign that I am getting older? Perhaps my writing talent is just drying up as we speak. It is a depressing thought, but not one that I intend to dwell on since I have little to no control over it.

The moment that I handed in those papers on Monday to the undergraduate History office, it was if the day had suddenly gotten brighter. I went to my Popular Religion seminar in a daze due to sleep deprivation afterward and was relieved to find that most people seemed to be in a similar, if not worse, state. The rest of the day was spent attempting to catch up on my sleep, but to no avail. I was so exhausted that I barely made it to Pleasance to work on Retrospect, the history journal. Oddly enough, the keys to the newspaper office (where we are laying out) had disappeared and so we settled for grabbing a few drinks. It proved to be just what I needed because I woke up on Tuesday completely refreshed and stress-free.

Today, I head south for my spring break/research trip. For a little under a month, I will be spending my days in the library researching my senior thesis. I have a preliminary bibliography of roughly 50 books that should get me started. I am taking this project incredibly seriously and intend to be on the ball the entire time. Still, my break won't be spent working the entire time. Plans are in the works to visit Cambridge, Cotterley, and Wells (again). The Oxford-Cambridge boat race is being held in London on the 29th, and so a few of us are going to head down and make a day of it. I'm off to Dublin in the first week of April with Veronica and, perhaps just as exciting, Tristan and I have entered into a regatta the second week of April. Double scull. It should be quite interesting considering that I've only sculled less than a dozen times in my life. But I suppose that is even more motivation to get up each morning to practice. I just hope that my knees can hold out.

I must admit that I am quite impressed with myself. This spring break plan started off as a faint idea the weekend that I returned home from visiting Karen in Oxford. And somehow, despite being incredibly busy these past two months, I've managed to successfully plan out my entire trip. I have a place to stay and a reason for being there. Perhaps I am not as hopeless as I had thought?

Anyways, this is probably the last blog entry for a bit until I get settled.

ADDENDUM: Also, Brad told me that he plans on taking the Foreign Service Officer Test in October. This is amazing news, since I plan on taking it then as well. Now I have someone to study with/freak out with.

14 March 2009

I simply do not understand what is wrong with me today. I know what I want to write, but somewhere in the process of the thought being transmitted from my brain to the computer, it gets lost. I have massive writer's block... I think the game plan for tonight is to keep writing until I am done Margery Kempe and 1500 words into Blessed Union. If I am not done by 4, I will take a nap from 4am to 7am, and then continue on. I had hoped to run in the 5k tomorrow, but there is no way that I am going to be able to. Hopefully, I will be done both entirely by 12 so that I can see part of the Meadows Marathon, but even that is looking highly unlikely right now.

Ugh. I just want the semester to be over so I can have a bit of a rest.

13 March 2009


12 March 2009

I wish that the aim of honours essays was to answer the question in the least amount of words possible. If this were the case, my essays would look something like this:
1. Why did Margery Kempe in 'The Book of Margery Kempe' provoke such hostile reactions?
She was annoying and no one could be bothered to listen to her anymore. It was better to accuse her of being a Lollard and hope that the would burn her so that the general populace could get some rest from her 'pious' weepings and roarings.

2. Was the union of 1603 a welcome relief or a threat to national aspirations?
It posed a threat because the English were xenophobic and the Scots were worried about losing their sovereign status.

And so, in the course of two or three sentences, I have answered questions that I will, ultimately, have to write over 6,000 words on.

I am angry, bitter, and tired of writing. I haven't had a break since August (and even then I had just written a paper about the Grameen bank).

The 18th is looking sooo good right now. I can't wait!
You know it is close to the end of term when:
* You can't be bothered to do things that are necessary in order to sustain life, such as eating or sleeping.
* You greet your flatmates with 'How is the paper coming?'
* Your room looks like a textbook exploded due to the large amounts of paper scattered about.
* You know where everything you need is in the assorted piles and pale at the thought of someone cleaning it up.
* You've forgotten what day it is on several occasions.
* You bring your book to the bathroom in order to read while brushing your teeth.
* You have papers tacked to the walls reminding you when things are due, and just notes in general.
* 'Dressing to impress' is no longer in your vocabulary and will not reappear until everything is handed in.
* The thought of 'only 4 days until it is over' inspires an odd combination of terror and excitement in you.
* You forget that life used to be care-free and that you complained about not having enough work to do. HA! What a fool you were.

10 March 2009

It's That Time Of Year Again

Registration for classes is rapidly approaching. Senior year. Finally! (I don't know why I am expressing relief at the end of my undergraduate career since it is only going to get worse if (big if) I get into graduate school.) For once (other than coming into this year), I am looking forward to the start of the fall semester. I am going to be rooming with Karen from CMRS and suiting it up with cool people, and will almost certainly be living in Waring Commons (where I lived in second year). It is going to be great and will hopefully make up for the fact that, academically, the year is going to be absolute hell.

Proposed classes (as far as I can plan them out considering that the fall schedule of classes has yet to be published):

1. HIST395: Historiography: Theories and Uses of History (Absolutely boring, but I am hoping to get Musgrove or Barrett (if either of them are teaching it) because: a) I've had both of them before and, b) they will make the subject interesting).
2. Museum Studies Elective (Finish out the minor, save for the internship. Probably will be in either Anthropology or History. (Will NOT be 'Archaeology of Gardens' Mom!))
3. HIST493: St. Mary's Project (Senior dissertation.)
4. Political Science upper division elective
5. Political Science upper division elective (I'll admit, I want to get into the Politics Honors Society.)

Yup. So...that's it for now. Three papers due Monday and a presentation on Thursday. I will be dropping off the face of the earth from here on out in order to get all of this done. Hopefully, I will survive.
I wonder if New College will let me sleep there if I petition them? I could just bunk up between two of the shelves in the basement stacks. It would be fine. And then I wouldn't have to ever go to the main library and could get loads of work done.


09 March 2009

Exams? What?

The exam schedule (finally) went up today. This is both great and horrible because although I can now plan out the rest of my semester (Spain is a possibility!), it means that I now have to worry about preparing for them. Not that I am actually going to have to worry (I have over a month to prepare after I get back from my research trip), but still...it has been quite a long time since I've actually had exams. The fact that the two hardest ones are back to back is also a bit of an annoyance, but nothing I can't handle. I've had worse (three final exams in one day, anyone?).

W, 13 May: Popular Religion paper (2 hours)
Th, 14 May: Blessed Union paper (2 hours)
F, 22 May: Medieval Europe paper (3 hours)

In other news: I've spent most of my life this past week in the library and don't see the situation changing any time in the foreseeable future. I had my Popular Religion presentation on the reasons for the hostile reactions to Margery Kempe as depicted in 'The Book of Margery Kempe', which went quite well if I do say so myself. My Popular Religion paper is on the same topic, so having to do the presentation on it really helped me to focus my ideas. I think the hardest part is just going to be sitting down and writing 3000+ words in the midst of everything else I have to do.

Still, at least that is out of the way. I hope to have a detailed outline by tonight and will, hopefully, have also finished my research for my Blessed Union presentation on the state of the post-1603 Irish church for Thursday. That will leave tomorrow free for writing the Pop. Religion paper and for researching my actual Blessed Union paper on the acceptability of the union by 1625. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

06 March 2009

By this time in 2 weeks, I will be free...

Sat, 3/7: The main library is going to be closed for maintenance (can't they do that on Sunday when they only open for 12 hours instead of the whole of Saturday) so I am trekking to New College library and attempting to get research one.

Sun, 3/8: Library from Noon until whenever I get my paper and presentation done.

Mon, 3/9: Exam dates are posted. Popular Religion presentation on the reactions to Margery Kempe.

Tues, 3/10: Medieval Europe lecture. Tutorial.

Wed, 3/11: FINISH Popular Religion paper (or at least have it ready for editing). Research/prepare Blessed Union presentation.

Thurs, 3/12: Medieval Europe lecture. Blessed Union presentation. Retrospect meeting.

Fri, 3/13: Joan of Arc lecture. Finish Blessed Union paper.

Sat, 3/14: Write/finish Joan of Arc paper. Edit all three papers.

Sun, 3/15: Continue editing. Hate life.

Mon, 3/16: Turn in all three papers. Hopefully will still be alive. Popular Religion. Sleep.

Tues, 3/177: Medieval Europe lecture. Tutorial. Pack!

Wed, 3/18: St. Andrews grad interview!

04 March 2009

I miss my friends (plus those from Oxford that are not in this picture) :(