Sooner Jump Start, 2nd semester

This year I took another mentee from SJS to teach him the ins and outs of Norman, and I have to say I got lucky again. My mentee was great and we got together to have lunch all the time at the Union. We talked about many things but I especially like to learn what daily life was like in Oman. He told me about the education system and how different careers are given more importance over there.

My mentee, Al-Khalil, is on the far right

 

Arabic Talent Show!

This was my third time participating in the talent show and it was more involved than ever! I submitted calligraphy art, sang for two classes, and prepared a video for the third. It was really fun and I already can’t wait to do something even better for next semester.

 

Ilham Fair

The Arabic Flagship Program hosted this Arabic themed fair in Farzaneh, and it was so much fun. They had live Arabic music, henna paining, Arabic calligraphy, and many Arab organizations were there too. I went with some classmates from Arabic class and we had a blast! Our TAs were there too and this time instead of telling us about cultural activities we actually got to experience it.

Al-Harir’s Arabic “Standups” in Translation

This lecture by Dr. Michael Cooperson was a peek into the world of translations. I never expected that translating was as complicated as it actually is. Translators have to deal with idioms, cultural context, and choosing the right words so that their translation gives as close of a meaning as the original author intended.

Mexico Week – Tostadas!

For my first event this year I went to Farzaneh to learn about tostadas. Mexico has a rich culinary history and this dish looks deceptively simple. A hard baked tortilla makes the base for the beans, lettuce, tomatoes, meats, and guacamole that are the toppings, but making or preparing those ingredients is labor intensive. Fortunately the local restaurant owner of “Puebla” had the ingredients ready for us and we got to eat right away!

Week 3 in Oxford, pt. 2

I’m back! Same day, but just a little later. We just finished our delicious farewell dinner, and I wanted to conclude the Oxford trip on this blog since tomorrow I will be traveling all day and I’m not sure if I’ll have a constant Wi-Fi connection.

This trip has been a great opportunity and a dream come true, not only for me but also for my family. It was accidentally during a meeting with my Honors advisor that I found out about this study abroad trip, and after signing up and a flurry of schoolwork and finals and hoping, I found out that I had been accepted into the Honors at Oxford program.

Now that I have finished here, I feel that I have made full use of the time I was here all while still keeping an academic focus. I will probably talk about this trip months after I come back, but how could I not?

Week 3 in Oxford

Tomorrow I head out back to Oklahoma, making this my last full day in Oxford. As always, with any good thing, it went by too fast and I’m sad to see it go, but I will always treasure my time here. It was a sort of academic dream, the perfect balance between school and leisure, doing my summer classes in the University of Oxford all while having the time and freedom to explore a new country. When I first arrived three weeks ago, I didn’t expect to grow so attached to the place, since I wouldn’t be here very long, but earlier I found myself taking pictures of even the most generic places here in Brasenose College, from the laundry room to the staircase leading to my dorm. I’m sure that when I’m showing my mom the pictures I took she’ll wonder what’s so special about where I washed my clothes. Later today we have a fancy farewell dinner scheduled to send us off, and I’m enthusiastically looking forward to it, but right now, I need to figure out a way to fit all my souvenirs into my suitcase!

Week 2 in Oxford

Paris! It’s such an amazing city! I was a bit scared at first because didn’t know any French, at all, and I knew even less about the city, but I had so much fun there!

Last Thursday we had a field trip to the Imperial War Museum for class, and so the other classmates that I was going to Paris with and I just stayed in London (at the same hostel I was in with my family friend) for the night. The next morning we were up bright and early to get on our 7am train to Paris. The trip was about 2 hours long, but because on the timezone change, we arrived at 10am local time. From there on, it was a flurry of activity, just like London. First we climbed up a hill to the Sacré-Cœur Cathedral, then we went to the Musée du Montmartre, afterwards we had lunch. At this point it was about 2pm so we went to check into our Airbnb in Paris, and let me just say, we luck out hard. The Airbnb was beautiful! It was high ceilings with chandeliers and frescos on the wall accompanied with antique furniture and there was even a claw foot peacock tub!

We were so amazed that we spent a good 30 minutes just relaxing before we took off once again and visited the shops around us. Later that night, we went to the Louvre and even thought we were there almost 4 hours, we barely scratched the surface of the treasures inside.

The next day I didn’t go with my classmates, instead I visited a friend! A couple years back my family had hosted a French exchange student, and we’ve kept in contact all this time, so when he heard I was going to be in France he made the trip to Paris to take me around. The day passed fast once again and we had a great time catching up. We went to the Pantheon and an art museum, and had lunch at a restaurant with his mom. We finished up at the Luxembourg Gardens, and after a farewell, he dropped me off at Champs-Élysées where I met up with the group and we headed back to the flat. However we weren’t there long, because just an hour later we were on our way to have a picnic by the Eiffel tower as the sun set. As I sat and watched the tower sparkle, I was really glad I had taken the trip instead of staying the whole weekend in Oxford.

On Sunday we had to check out of our amazing flat, then after leaving our luggage in the Gard du Nord, we went to Notre Dame, the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, then we had lunch, and we headed to Musée d’Orsay where we spent the rest of the afternoon looking at paintings.

That night we headed back to Oxford and ran into a fellow OU student while waiting for the bus. We really weren’t expecting to see him, but it was a delight. We arrived at about 12am today and after a quick shower, I went directly to bed.

Now that I’m back in my room I can relax and prepare for my last week here in Oxford. I really like it here so I’m sad to know it will all end so soon, but no matter, I’m going to enjoy the time I have left… And also finish my souvenir shopping!

Sacré-Cœur
Dinner by the Eiffel tower
At the Louvre

Mid-Week 2 Oxford

I returned from London two days ago, and the feelings this week are different than the last. When I fist got here, I was anxious to go out and see as much as I could, to go to all the museums and landmarks so I wouldn’t miss anything. However, this week is more relaxed. London was constant movement, but here in Oxford I can concentrate on my classes, sit in my room and enjoy the breeze while I do my homework. I still go out and walk around town, but instead of feeling like I’m running out of time, I’m just really happy to be here, literally attending the infamous college of Oxford. So I’m a little sad to be leaving for Paris over the weekend, because of the calmness that I feel in Oxford. I can visit Paris any other time in my life, but when will I be able to stay in Brasenose as a student ever again?

The Radcliffe Camera outside Brasenose
The view from the New Quad

Week 1 in Oxford

This first week has been great! I got here in Sunday around 9, but check in wasn’t until 2, so I spent the day with some classmates exploring the city. At first you just admire the architecture, but then it hits you that you are surrounded by buildings hundreds of years old. In fact we found out that Oxford was founded way before the Americas were discovered!

On Monday I was still jet-lagged but I still went around the city and just settled in. I tried really hard to stay awake the whole day so I would sleep at night and adjust my schedule, but before lunch I was just so tired I had to take a nap. Later I realized that was a good decision because I went with my group to an epic scavenger hunt that had us walking all around the city just to end up in a beautiful restaurant right by the Thames. It took about 2 hours to get there and 1 to get back, that night I fell asleep immediately despite of my earlier nap.

Tusday was my first day of class and it was really interesting. I’m taking the Great War and 20th century history, and being in a country that was deeply affected by the conflict gives a whole new meaning to what I’m learning. Later that day I went shopping for souvenirs right around Brasenose, but at 3 I went with some OU students to London to see Hamlet at the Globe! We had bought the tickets while we were still in the U.S. so we were excited to see it, but as fate would have it, traffic was so bad by the time we made it to London it was 7:30 and we were too late to get our tickets. Yet we made the best of our situation and went around the city for a bit before heading back to Oxford.

On Wednesday, for breakfast, we had a special treat which was pain-au-chocolat. Its a very simple pastry with two chocolate sticks in it but it’s really delicious. After class, I went to a museum with my roommate and some other classmates. It was the Ashmolean, which had an impressive collection of artifacts, paintings, and jewelry.

Thursday was the last class for the week and we started watching the film Joyeux Noel, which was about the Christmas truce of 1914 between the German soldiers and the Allies. Unfortunately we only got half way through when class ended, so I have to wait until next Tuesday to finish watching it. After class we had lunch and once again we spent the day exploring the city, but that afternoon was the England v. Croatioa soccer match for the World Final, and so to experience it like locals we went to a nearby pub and had fish and chips as we watched the game. Sadly, even though England had a good start, they lost the match.

On Friday I went to London again to really get to know it and I’ve spent the weekend here with a family friend. We’re staying at a hostel and it feels like every moment we’re awake we’re just walking to a new museum or location. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m getting to see so much here in London and every day is an adventure, whether we are navigating the Tube or discovering Tower Bridge. Tomorrow I’m going to drop of my friend at Heathrow and head back to Oxford, ready for my second week.

Arriving at Heathrow
Making the best of having missed the performance of Hamlet
With my family friend in the Chelsea Physic Gardens in London