Friday, January 1, 2010

Let's pretend I've thought of a clever title for this post

Since I've been home, I have enjoyed the English things I brought with me. I shared my Cadbury's chocolate, which my Mom declared was wickedly good. I also brought a few small gifts from Borders, which was conveniently going bankrupt so I could get good deals. I bought Christmas gifts with the gift cards for Borders and Blackwells that I earned during term. I volunteered for experiments at a psychology lab that did cross-modal testing of the senses. So, I had to click shapes when I heard noises, give sound values to tastes, and other weird things. But I made about fifty pounds in gift cards.

Currently, it is 0 degrees C (or 37 degrees F) in England, and -30 degrees C (-22 degrees F) in my town. Do I miss England? Yes, though I must say the cold is easier to take when it is dry. At first, my sinuses did not like the transition, but I don't get chilled going outside. I guess I am a Minnesota girl. But when I dream at night I am still in England.

Today, I mourn the expiration of my Oxford Student ID card. Its power has diffused. I can no longer access those lovely databases or walk into exclusive buildings. I loved that card.

Since I've been back I've redone my wardrobe England style, buying skinny jeans, skirts, tights, and boots. I waited to buy new clothes until I came back--scary prices in Oxford. So, now I'll be out-of-style in Minnesota finally fulfilling my wish to be in-style in Oxford. It's only a month too late.

Saturday, December 26, 2009


My suitcase arrived on Tuesday, thankfully. It had my phone and my camera port in it, so now I am finally got up on four months of messages and able to download my pictures. One problem: the internet service at my house is a distant cousin of the pony express. I feel my life being drained away as I stare mindlessly at blank loading page after blank loading page. I wander through dimensions of white, pixilated space while trying to check my e-mail. So, that puts a damper on the idea of trying to sort through my lovely pictures. But I must anyway. Because if I don't now, I never will. So, I shall simply have to clear my mind and turn the message "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage" into my new mantra. I have been spending the whole length of time writing this blog trying to log into my e-mail account. I have not done it yet.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Second day home, still no suitcases. Mum and I are headed to the Fargo airport to retrieve them....if they ever get there.

I had a nightmare last night. Not a common occurrence for me. Basically, the dream was about having to write the final 4,000 word essay over again....with a three hour deadline. And it was a totally different topic and for some reason I just couldn't get myself to sit down and write. I woke up with a feeling of panic and inadequacy, two internalizations I thankfully did not experience during term.

It is so strange that I am not burned out at the end of the semester. Usually, I crash for a week or two and do nothing but watch movies and stupid TV shows. This time is totally different. I've decided to study more George Eliot since I have read only one of her novels and desperately want to read the rest. I won a copy of Middlemarch at Freshers fair back in September and, despite its Victorian-novel obesity, I managed to pack it. I am reading The Mill on the Floss at the same time, and I plan on listening to Daniel Deronda on librivox.

Since being home, I have enjoyed listening to lots of Christmas music, eating too many sweets, and imagining myself walking through Oxford's streets. I have learned the definition of an "Anglophile"-- a person who is fond of English culture and England in general. I didn't realize that I was an Anglophile until I left England. I think a large factor of it is the discovery that Minnesota and I are not fully compatible. It has a brutal climate and a large population of insects that either annoy or scare me. The things I like about my home state are being rapidly outnumbered by the things that I don't or have outgrown. There were so many things about England that exactly suited my tastes. I was so comfortable there, and I didn't look forward to returning to St. Paul. Minnesota's January and February never cease to make me broody and restless. I will miss the liberation of relying on walking as my main mode of transportation, something neither practical or practicable in a place with a deadly winter climate.

But, there is swing dancing in the Twin Cities, so Minnesota is not all bad. I am really, really excited for the moment when someone asks me, "So, where did you learn to Lindy Hop?" and I get to say, "Oh, in Oxford." It's gonna be fun.

Friday, December 18, 2009


I have safely arrived in frosty Minnesota, but my luggage is still suspended over the Atlantic somewhere. My mom and I barely made our connecting flight in Amsterdam (running through the terminal) because our plane out of London was delayed. We sat on the tarmac for an hour and a half while the airline hunted down some suspicious bags in the cargo. So, via FedEx, I'll be getting my clothes and souvenirs sometime this evening. For now, the jetlag wears off slowly, and I face the reality of being home.

It's a bit of a shock. Touring Oxford and London with Mom last week kept me distracted so that leaving England did not totally register in my mind. This is the first time coming home for Christmas has not felt like a relief. I could have stayed in Oxford and been content. There is a grief that comes at the end. That city was addicting, and I'm going through withdrawals.

In Japanese aesthetics, the fragility of a thing is an essential part of its beauty. Our lives are more beautiful because we die, a blossom is more beautiful because it wilts. Beginnings are in harmony with endings, and both are necessary to tap the deepest parts of our emotions. I have experienced life profoundly in these three and a half months in Oxford. The brevity of my time there taught me to connect with each day in a way unnecessary to those who have lived there for years. I am changed for life.

And I will keep blogging for the next few weeks. I'm not ready to be done with this experience just yet.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

One Day More

At this point, I am physically drained from three days of being locked up in my room with the Long Essay. My body aches from being crunched up in front of my computer. I am at 3,486 words, leaving very little to go. My Oxford friends who have written theses and dissertations with word counts in the five digit range smiled at me last week saying, "4,000 words--that's not so bad." True, it isn't. But after three-and-a-half months of course work and fifteen other essays, I feel I have a right to pessimism. All shall be well, as always, but since this is the first time I've felt bogged down by anything academic this term, I thought it right to express my sentiments so that the full range of my Oxford experience is recorded.

And I shall be done tomorrow.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Crunch Time

This is it--ninth week of term. For the next few days, books on Victorian serial fiction will be bricking me into my room as I write the impending Long Essay. That's it. Finis. Once done (on Thursday), I shall have a few more days of Oxford experience uninterrupted by essays. And my mom is coming : )

My blog, of course, will not end right away. I probably will add a little more on Thursday and Friday, but back in Minnesota (next week) I'll sort through my pictures and jot down memories. I've liked blogging, so I'll keep it going a while longer.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Last Week's Happenings Part 4

On the same day my home town had its annual Christmas parade, Oxfordians were crowding the streets more than usual for the Christmas Light Night. The whole of the city center was transformed as traffic was blocked off and stages were set up for musicians and dancers. Booths of sugar-sprinkled holiday delicacies, roasted chestnuts, hot drinks, and artisan crafts lined Broad Street.

At the heart of the night was the lantern procession featured in my pictures below. Those forming the procession were mostly high-school students carrying paper lanterns designed by local artists. Leading the way was the large replica of the Radcliffe Camera, the focal point of Oxford libraries. The best part was that museums were open late and brought in Christmas musicians along with purchasable hot drinks and goodies.

I took the opportunity to run through some places I haven't seen yet, like the Oxford Museum (featuring all things Oxford) and the Ashmolean Museum (featuring everything else). I hadn't visited the History of Science Museum yet because I thought it would be boring---I was way wrong. It was like walking into a page of Jules Verne. They currently have a Steampunk art exhibition going on---too cool to explain. Stick "steampunk" into Google images, and you'll see what I mean. (Not you, Mom, because I'm taking you there.) I had a great time all around.