Friday, August 5, 2011


FINALLY. I'm home! I am absolutely thankful for every technological luxury in my life upon my return. The first thing I did was walk the the fridge and pull out a bottle of ranch (ranch doesn't exist overseas).. it was heaven in my mouth. The second thing I did was sit and bask in the bliss that is having wi-fi and high speed internet within the convenience of your own home.

I remember sitting on the bus on our way to downtown Oxford discussing the terrible Oxford weather and the similarities between that and Seattle's weather. I remember saying that the clouds will part and the sun will come when all of us return to Seattle. And did it ever! I am in some weird peaceful state of mind ever since I've returned. It's what happens when I am away from home for an extended amount of time. I wake up every morning (feeling rested) before 8 am, which let me tell you, 1 pm is my norm.. I can get so much done before noon.. who knew!

Anyways, my early morning rise may also have something to do with my motivation to just be up and in my house and next to my lake and laying in the sun.. I don't want to miss a second of it. And, now that I look back at pictures of Oxford I sometimes with I was there and I already forget how beautiful it was until I'm reminded.

What's up with that, anyways? Why do we miss things more when we are way from them? Can't I just appreciate something when I'm there? No, no I cannot, I've tried. But oh well, really, the trip is over now and it's time to get back to real life especially when real life seems so much better than it did before! If anything, Oxford opened my eyes to an entirely different way of getting things done. Their lack of luxury and convenience hasn't stopped them from remaining one of the top universities in the world, and the one feeling I have from Oxford is that I am capable of so much more with all that I have.

Meeting the Band

Desperate for something to do... I suggested that we all try something called "propaganda" at the O2 Academy on Cowley road.  So on saturday night we bought tickets for five pounds, went to a couple of pubs, then finally the O2 Academy.

To be honest, I hadn't a clue on what to expect.. I mean, cool concerts in Oxford? Anyways, we waited in line and walked in to an empty venue...

There was a band playing on the second floor for an entirely different concert than what we had paid for, so we decided to go upstairs.

The Scholars (the band that was playing upstairs) were a mix between the Killers and Death Dab for Cutie? Maybe.. I'm not sure, I'm not that into the punk scene but they were amazing! I was mesmorized by the darkness with red lighting shining on their faces while they sang in a depressing and dark tone, plus in the dark the main singer looked really cute.

After the show, while we stood around waiting for the show that we came for to start, Jenna (brave soul) walked right up to the lead singer and told him we should all hang out... After that night we spent a couple of days laboring over what to write as a comment on their facebook page. Time well spent, might I add, because they replied!

Anyways, we told them to meet us for drinks when they came into town the next weekend. After a bit of indecisiveness on their part, they decided we can all meet at City Arms on Cowley rd. After scrambling over what to wear we ran to City Arms, in fear of being late, and sat down (awkwardly) to the band. One of the member proceeded to eat his fries with a fork, in a pub. I politely asked... "why are you eating your fries with a fork?".. he said and I qoute: "Because I am civilized" in that god awful snobby tone that made me a little hesitant to continue with the night.

After we figured out that they don't really drink and didn't know of anywhere to show us around in Oxford, we took them to turf tavern. After trying to teach them a drinking game and sitting around playing ten fingers a large group of college students walked into the bar. The band immediately commented that they must be Americans by the noise.. and I said "really!?" and walked right on over.. I ended up having a debate with someone from nebraska about the huskied, and meeting a girl from Delta Zeta (my sorority) from South Carolina! That was the high light of my night... I expected more entertainment from the british band but no such luck.

Side note: All any of us had for signatures was our phones..

City of the dreaming spires... Where are they?

Where are all of these romanticized writers and poets, anyways? If they've left because of the food... that's understandable. The people I encounter here continue to disappoint me. I travel to meet the people, and I go out ..... to socialize. The places that were once known as the local hot spots, where famous writers used to kick back, like the Eagle and Child, are really no longer much of anything except a historical sight.

In Oxford I was looking for the current dreaming spires, the things that people would be in awe of now... but I found, nothing. Oxford seems to be banking off of an old and dying legacy, the surrounding city wouldn't be much without the lingering historical significance. In my opinion, the city needs something, I think they rely too much on the "oxford" part and not enough on hospitality and the things we all forget about until we don't have them.

It might be because it is summertime, but the students are missing from Oxford! In my nightly adventures out on the town I was hoping to meet more than a couple eligible bachelors from Albania ... I have yet to meet a guy or girl student who would be willing to be "friends".

While it's nice to sit underneath a tree, reading and basking in the fact that there's a chance so many accomplished people have done that same thing... it gets old. I'm looking for more, but I'm not sure what!

Feeling the Silence

I can sit inside for hours in end and write about this experience. But I'd hate to. The irony in that is the more time I spend writing the less I have to write about. I could write about the lunch I had today... and the Bodleian library card I received last week. But I'd hate to.

Xu Zhim's poem Saying Good-bye to Cambridge Again made clear what it is that I'm experiencing here in Oxford. This is what I took from the poem as a description of my time spent in Oxford. What I see in this should not be confused with me trying to figure out what he meant but what it means to me.

Xu Zhim does not write about the people, he does not write about buildings, he does not write about his studies. He writes about what he sees away from all of that... it's as if he writes about what he sees as the beauty of Cambridge... as if maybe he can't find it in the buildings. Zhim writes about what he remembers.. what most left a mark on him, even though he writes of not making a mark in Cambridge himself.

My time here in Oxford has given me a sense of silence, without family or belonging. There are people to talk to.... but there aren't really people to talk to. Everything I have experienced here in Oxford is amazing, but really how amazing can it get when this isn't your home? And, home to me can be people too, I would much rather have people that felt like home experiencing theses things with me, and that's where I find the silence.

The only way I can understand that is missing someone or something you love. Love is not a dream and a picture perfect sunset, because no one falls into a lasting love underneath a temporary sunset.


Without having the whole metropolitan thing going for it, Bath by far, stands out. It's one of the most beautiful and breathe taking cities I have been to, it has a peaceful energy about it and you feel like your day can go on forever.

When we arrived in Bath we headed straight for a place to eat, Garfunkel's. We picked the place because it has a great view of Bath's famous park and some of the main streets that the people of Bath walked along. Now, I had heard that Bath was a college town, but that was not even close to the phenomenon we were experiencing this Sunday.

We sat and watched, what seems to be the entire town, march around singing religious songs until finally   residing in the park for the priest to give a speech for everyone to hear. I automatically decided that park must be owned by the church or someone very important that belongs to the church, and later on we found out that the park was indeed a private park and cost us one pound for entry.

During the day in Bath we took two sight seeing tours, one of the city and another was the skyline tour. Both were beautiful. After that we went to see the Roman Baths.... and I stuck my hand in, even though I'm pretty sure you're not suppose to, it was healing! It was quite magical sitting on the steps of the Roman Baths imagining the people actually bathing in them. Then we went to the Bath fashion museum, because apparently Bath is runner up next to London for having the most fashionable people. (or it used to be at least)

We ended the day in a disgusting pub but somehow it tolerable just because it was in the city of Bath, which I've came to the conclusion that it's one of the classiest cities I've been to.


Bristol is in among the group of England's core cities and has a historically important port. When Isaiah, Jamie and I made our way to Bristol I had no idea what to expect.... What's there to do in Bristol anyways?

The only thing I had read about was that their bars were always packed because of their laid back liqour regulations, but that was for later... During our one day in Bristol we took a tour bus and I was pleasantly surprised at the scenery and history of the place, as well as the real estate on the upper hills of Bristol, they have some money!

After that we walked around, visited the Bristol cathedral and I had the most delicious burger I've had, maybe, ever. I didn't realize that Bristol is also home to a famous street artist, Banksy, and his politically fueled street art is every throughout the city. It was beautiful!

After that we had to nap and then plan our night adventures in Bristol. Just like in Cardiff, we decided that Bristol's bar scene would be the best down by the water, and it sure was. Once again, all of the places to eat and bars were very new and nicely laid out with people spilling into the streets. There was an odd number of bacherolette and bachelor parties though, or at least that's what I'm assuming all of the groups of people dressed up were.. People were fairly welcoming and I very much enjoyed spending the night by the water, but soon enough we decided to go home and prepare for our next day's adventure.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


...or Wales?

A weekend trip to Cardiff, Wales ended up being one of the most influential parts of my time abroad. I even ended up choosing Wales for my final presentation research topic.

My initial opinion of Wales i nothing to boast about, however it quickly changed. When we first arrived in Cardiff we found our hostel about a mile away from city centre near the train station. The area around our hostel was incredibly sketch and I wanted nothing to with it, I didn't even want to leave my lap top unattended; but, after being reassured by the front desk that everything would be taken care of we ventured into town.

I was shocked by the cleanliness and newness of the downtown area and I was blown away by the castle that lies literally feet from a shopping centre... it was incredible. The shops were high end and the restaurants were lit up and busy, filled with people flowing out from the bars into the streets, it seemed like one huge party. I was enamored by the friendliness of the people.. surely, I thought, there was something in the water. (or the beer!)

The day after we went down to the water, because me being borderline obsessed with waterfront, I had to see... the sea! The street performers were fantastic! Dressed to the nines, singing classics like Frank Sinatra and smiling at everyone that passed them by. While we sat and watched, we realized they were just as eager to talk to a couple of young college kids drinking beer on a sidewalk as were with them. They soon became friends of ours and told us all of the insider information we needed for our night our on the town, but we didn't want to leave their company; so, in a hour or two they told us to follow them... We were brought to some ritzy VIP piano lounge with velvet ropes covering the entrance and we followed them right in! The bar was lined with ice to keep your drink chilled, there was great live music and champagne being popped left and right... this was my kind of place! Not to mention David Hasselhoff  seated to the right of us with two very young looking blondes on each side, it was quite entertaining.

All in all by the end of my trip, I was convinced Wales held too many interesting aspects to just forget about it, and so, my research topic was born.