Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oxford, London, this real!?

So it’s been awhile, I know, but the past couple of weeks have been CRAZY! I have so much to fill you in on. So about a month ago my whole program went to Oxford for the week. It wasn’t really a vacation since we still had classes, but it was lots of fun! For those who don’t know Oxford University isn’t actually a college. There is just Oxford the town which is made up of like 39 colleges. So, we stayed at University College a.k.a. Univ. It is the oldest college in Oxford and important people like C.S. Lewis and Percy Shelley went there! Actually funny story about Percy Shelley, there is a memorial to him in the part of the building that I was staying in which resembles a tomb; therefore, I walked past (what felt like) a dead person every time I went back to my room…talk about creepy!

This would be Percy Shelley's Memorial.
 Being in Oxford is like being a totally different world. Univ. is loaded with little nooks and crannies which gives it lots of character and makes you feel like you are about to fly off to Neverland or stumble upon Narnia. It also is an academically intimidating place…you have to have AT LEAST a 3.8 GPA in order to be even considered for grad school! Talk about impressive! It is also the epitome of a college town with lots of shopping, pubs, clubs, and history. While there I explored the market, toured Christ Church College (yes this is where Harry Potter was filmed!!!), did a tower tour of St. Mary’s University Church, and went punting. It was a packed week with little free time, but it was totally worth it. We even had a formal going away dinner at the end where everyone got dressed up! I think the best part was having the whole program together. I definitely got to know some people who I don’t see much of either because they live on the other side of Bath or don’t have any classes with me.

See what I mean about Neverland and Narnia?

Christ Church College great hall...used in Harry Potter!

Me and the roomies on the stairs that were used in Harry Potter.

Me and the Roomies at the formal dinner!


Upon returning to Bath, the relaxing mix of class and sightseeing quickly turned into cram time. I had two presentations and I was teaching my lesson at W.A.S.P.S, and then Friday I was leaving for spring break. The highlight of the week was definitely getting to teach my lesson. I actually was pretty nervous since I had never done a whole class lesson before, but it went over smoothly. The only thing that I was desperately lacking in was TIME. The kids did not have nearly enough time to write their pen pal letters, which I was hoping to have sent out before I left for spring break. But the students loved the lesson, and were super excited to connect with someone their own age from America. So hopefully I will be able to get those out as soon as I’m back in school with them. I even got some hugs on Wednesday because I came in for another day! Talk about making it worth getting up early two days in a row! I seriously cannot wait until I’m in the classroom on a more consistent basis!
So, Friday quickly rolled around and I hopped on a train to London to meet my parents at their hotel. I, thankfully, made it to the hotel without getting completely lost (I guess I’m not as directionally challenged as I thought!), and it was great to see my family. It’s so nice to see people from home when you’re so far away. Even though I am used to Bath and it feels a little bit like home and I’ve made some great friends, nothing beats seeing the people you love from home! Anyways we stayed in London until Monday and while we were there we packed in two walking tours (one was a Harry Potter tour which Chris was super excited for), a tour of the tower of London (I stood on over where Anne Boylen and Katherine Howard were buried after being executed and saw all the crown jewels), watched the changing of the guard, toured the Winston Churchill War Museum (which is WAY cooler than it sounds), did a duck tour, and walked through Westminster Abbey. It was a packed weekend, but I hadn’t been to London yet so it was cool to get see things like Big Ben, the Parliament buildings, and the London Eye (although I think you would have had to pay me lots of money to get on that thing!). On Monday morning we hopped on a train to Bath so my parents could see where I was staying.

Chris made a new friend!

The Leaky Blue.

I made a friend at the War Museum.
Bath was fun too because I was on my own turf so we didn’t get lost walking around, and I saved all the touristy stuff for this week so that I wasn’t doing the same things over again. The Roman Baths were pretty cool. It is amazing to see what they were able to accomplish back then with such minimal technology. We also did the tower tour at Bath Abbey which, I have to admit, is the coolest tower tour I have done. We got to see so much more than just the views from the top. We actually did a guided tour and got to see where the bells are hung, how they are played, the back of the clock, and the views from the top. It was amazing!

Cliff walk in Abergavenny in Wales.

Carreg Cennen

View from the cliff walk
From Bath we rented a car…yes my dad did tackle driving on the wrong side of the road! With only one near accident (yikes!) and taking only a day to adjust to the signage here, I think we did pretty good. I have to say that the signs were the biggest problem. We got horrendously lost going to Stonehenge, and after we got there we again got seriously lost on our way to Cardiff. But, we finally made it just in time for dinner! Actually on the way to Cardiff we ended up stopping at Lacock which is another place where Harry Potter was shot, but we didn’t get to see much. However, Chris did pose in front of Slughorn’s house!
The rest of the vacation we were in Wales. We saw lots of castles, Cardiff Castle, Caerphilly Castle, and Carreg Cennen, it’s tough to decide which was best but it’s definitely a tie between Caerphilly and Carreg; Caerphilly was so big and impressive but Carreg was situated on this sort of epic looking mountain with a kick butt view! Also, something that is in abundance in Wales is SHEEP! They are everywhere (I definitely saw more sheep than people) and it was adorable because all of the lambs were grazing with their moms. Some other things we saw were the Welsh life Museum (which had another castle in it, it is actually sort of like Sturbridge Village only bigger and grander), the National Caves ( I forget what they are called?!), and we did two cliff walks. Over all it was a very busy vacation, and I came home exhausted but I also came back with a new appreciation for British history and the scope of the natural world around here. I saw places that I thought I would only see in movies, except I was there! It is actually very surreal being in a place with so much baggage. The tower of London, for example,  (or Westminster!) has such a well known history. My students were actually just talking about the Tudors in class before break (they have a saying to remember Henry VIII’s six wives and what happened to them…divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived. It’s hilarious to hear them all recited it together!) so being in the place where Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard died was so COOL!

The sheep!

Part of Caerphilly Castle

Anyways, that was a lot to share at once! It’s back to the grind now until the semester is over, but I do have some exciting things ahead. Easter is next weekend and my roomies and I are cooking a nice dinner to celebrate, then I head off to Dublin for a weekend with my Irish class, then we are in Stratford for a couple of days, then Becca comes to visit, and then there is finals and the semester is over. The next couple of weeks are going to fly by, but I’m going to try to take it day by day because I can’t believe it’s almost over. Until next time…


  1. Wow...will we get you to even consider coming home?

    This was a great entry, really felt like you took me with you.

    Love & kisses,
    your other mom.

  2. This was a great entry, really felt like you took me with you.