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?
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!
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!
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?
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.
This was my second Arabic Talent show and my SJS mentee was able to attend to watch my class and I perform! We sang Mulan’s “I’ll make a man out of you” and I honestly thing we did really well! We practiced many times in class and I even met up with some friends outside of class to practice a little more.
This event was different because dealt with very sobering events. We got to hear directly from Dr. Nathaniel Greenberg who was in Egypt at the time the Arab Spring was starting and he talked about how Arab media and television shows portrayed groups like ISIS and the government.
An event I attended in the Puterbaugh Festival was Kaffee and Kuchen, where I got to meet up with fellow German students and have coffee and cake while we chatted in German. I went with a classmate and we talked for a bit but our focus was in enjoying the delicious chocolate and fruit cake they were serving!
On April 4th, I also attended a Survival Language Skills event, which focused on three languages. I has mainly interested in French, because I would really love to get the chance to travel there someday, but I went ahead and stayed for the whole lecture. It was fun to learn new phrases in Arabic and French that I’ll definitely need on any trip to countries with those languages.
This was my first time being able to attend Global Engagement Day and I thought it was great! There was a great a variety of events and so I had to go to more than just one. The first event I went to was “Women, LGBTQ+ Persons, and Minorities Abroad” where I got to hear from a diverse group of people about their experiences abroad. I admit that I hadn’t thought about these factors when I decided to study abroad during college, even though I am a Hispanic woman, so it was really eye opening. The students gave great advice to staying safe but still enjoying everything the country and culture have to offer.