Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful for so many things that it's hard to formulate exactly what I'd say if I had to sparse it down into a few sentences.  Basically, the opportunities that this year has provided me have been huge and I've met so many great people because of it: Recreation Unlimited, Bryn Mawr and England have all helped to make this year into something extremely memorable and one that I'll always be thankful for.  Mostly, though, it's been the people that have made the biggest difference, and I'm thankful to have met so many incredible individuals.  Finally, I can't forget the tireless support my parents have given me (and always will, I'm sure) -- thanks from across the pond, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving!  Eat lots of turkey for me!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, a bunch of us (American and British) are headed to a pub tonight to celebrate British style.  I have to take over coxing the Men's Novice B boat today because their usual coxswain has class (really unfortunate for him!), so that should also be a highlight of my day, as I haven't coxed an actual race in several months!  It's quite a short course, about 800m, but that makes the intensity even better.  Our Men's Novice A and Women's Novice A boats both made a spectacular showing yesterday and are going on to compete in the later rounds.  Our Women's Novice B also made a good effort.. while they lost their actual race, they had the opportunity to move forward because of an unexpected scratch in the competition.  Best of luck to them, as well!

I can't believe that there are only 9 days of term left.  Two essays to go!  Michaelmas has gone unbelievably fast, as I'm sure the rest of my time at Oxford will as well.. bittersweet!  I am very excited to start my winter vacation around Europe, though!  17 days of exploring Greece, Italy, Spain and France is going to break my bank but it'll be well worth it.  Many pictures to come, I assure you!

So, Happy Thanksgiving from rainy/cold England (as I'm sure it is in Ohio, as well...)... in hopes that you're all thankful for many things!

Stepping in to cox the men's novice B boat to a great victory at Christ Church regatta

Monday, November 22, 2010

Can't believe it's week 7 here!

We're rolling into week 7 of term, which means that we only have this week and next week... and then we're done.  I absolutely cannot believe that my first term at Oxford is almost over.  What happened to the time?

These next two weeks are going to be seriously stress-inducing, but I'm ready for it.  I have lots of papers and tutorials to finish, as well as attending the Christ Church regatta with our novice boats (go St. Anne's!).  Our lovely 1st men's VIII stomped the competition in the Nephthys regatta this past weekend, so I'm REALLY excited about our future endeavors come Hilary and Trinity term!  I think we're highly underestimated by other colleges, which is going to soon change.  Here are the 1st VIII's videos of their win (we're in the yellow boat with red blades): (First race vs. Keble College) (Second race vs. The Queen's College)

I'm starting to work on the itinerary for the lovely winter expedition that I have planned with my friend Sara, who is also from the states.  We're going to pick some key places in the big cities we're visiting and then mostly just wing the trip.  I think that's the best type of tourism, anyway.. you see more exciting things if you mingle with the locals!  We also need to book the hostels pretty soon.  My bank account is dwindling, slowly but surely.  Thank goodness for supplementary income via the telethon job that I got at St. Anne's in January.

My best friend from Bryn Mawr visited from studying abroad in Athens, Greece and we had a fabulous journey of Oxford and London.  I'll be seeing her again in 2 weeks, which is hard to believe!  I'm so excited to finally make it down to the Mediterranean.  The weather is also a big plus!  Here's a few of our pictures:

A giant pink pelican in Hyde Park!  Promise it was real!

The classic phone booth picture.. matches my blog!

Great cocktail bar experience! (Grasshopper, apple pie and passion fruit champagne)

Steph and I with our pints of cider at the famous Turf Tavern in Oxford

Elise, Steph & I with a lovely backdrop of London

Off to work on my ungodly amount of work!  Cheers!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Finally un-sick!

After 9 days of AWFUL throat pain and general sickness, I finally recovered.  Apparently going to a friend's birthday party and staying up until 5:30am to walk Karina to the bus station cures sickness.. or perhaps it was the large amount of dairy that I ate on Friday?  Well, it will remain a mystery.. but nonetheless, I'm finally better!

I purchased my winter break tickets!!!!!!!!!!!!  December 5 - 9 I will be in Athens, Greece; Dec 9 - 14 in Rome; Dec 14 - 19 in Barcelona; Dec 19 - 22 in Paris and finally back to London late on the 22nd.  I'll be staying in London for Christmas, then perhaps traveling to a friend's house for after-Christmas festivities.  It'll be nice to have some company for the holidays.  I also got the telethon gig at St. Anne's, so I'll be employed at the college from January 3rd - January 16th making phone calls to lovely alumnae in hopes that they give me lots of money.  It pays 300GBP, so I'm not complaining.. at least that's 300 back in my bank account after I spend most of it on this winter break fiasco.

I went to Barclays today and asked them to order my cash card (debit card) because apparently no one had.  What is it with the British system and taking their merry time?  You even have to ask for the check at restaurants or else you may well be sitting there for an hour wondering why you haven't gotten it.  Very interesting.  Hopefully I'll get the cash card before I head out on my travels.

My best friend from Bryn Mawr is headed over from Greece this coming Thursday to spend Friday & Saturday with me and another one of her friends in Oxford and London!  I'm really exciteddddddddd.  Back to London we go for more touristy fun!  Although, it's gotten quite cold, so hopefully it doesn't rain while we're there.. that could make for another bout of sickness that I'm certainly not up for.

Off to do an essay and debate preparations!  Cheers!

Friday, November 12, 2010


Just got back from a fun adventure in London!  Though I was still pretty sick (can barely swallow/talk), Karina and I sure were efficient about sightseeing and making the most of the trip!  After not being able to find each other for over an hour after arriving in London via different places, we finally set off to find our hostel.  The hostel wasn't too bad, really.  The beds weren't as flat as we thought, though the pillows could've used improvement.  We were in a room with 20 other people, so obviously the bathroom situation wasn't as desirable as it could be. Overall, though, we paid about $8 per person for it, so you can't expect that much!  It was well worth it.

Thursday morning we set out bright and early, walked across the street from our hostel into Kensington Gardens and then over to Albert Hall and into the main part of the city.  We trekked to the tube (underground), bought an all-day pass and proceeded to check out Westminster (Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey).  We learned it was Remembrance Day here as well, just like our Veterans Day, so we got to witness a lot of ceremonies and a lot of people wearing poppies (their symbol of remembrance).  We did indulge in true fish & chips, although we weren't super impressed by them... still hunting for a really good find!  The throat made it a bit difficult to appreciate it, as well.  We saw Trafalgar square, Piccadilly Circus and the Harry Potter premiere!  The HP premiere was absolutely insane.  We arrived back right when the actors started to arrive and it was an absolute madhouse.  Our last stop was Buckingham Palace, which we thought rather looked like a government building rather than a palace.. but not like that would stop me from wanting to live there, anyway!

Here are some pictures from the extravaganza!

Kensington Palace

Karina and a swan (camera is not food!)

London Eye 

Parliament and Big Ben

Westminster Abbey and Remembrance Day crowds

Fish and chips, of course!

HP7 premiere!

Proof that we conquered London!  In front of Buckingham

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Here and there...

Hello again!

So, I've been down with a huge tonsil infection since last Thursday (doctors said it was mono, but I only had mono symptoms for one day, so I'm hesitant to call it that).  It's mostly the left side of my tonsils, but it includes all of the glands in my neck and the inside of my mouth.  Really not very exciting and quite painful.

On a lighter note, Karina comes today from studying abroad in Norway!  I haven't seen her since second semester of freshman year!  We're headed into London for today and tomorrow, then back to Oxford on Friday and then she leaves on Saturday.  I'm stoked for London... it'll be my first trek to the big city!  Too bad it's with a painful jaw, but nonetheless!  I'll be sure to take lots of pictures.

It's going to be a madhouse in London because the Harry Potter 7 (first part) premiere is Thursday and the red carpet is going to be at the Odeon Theatre, which isn't terribly far from where we'll be... plus, London is interconnected via the tube, so it's just like NYC.  Maybe I'll sneak a few pictures of the cast, if we don't get mulled by teenagers first!

Off to do an interview for a telethon in January for St. Anne's.  I'm hoping I'll get the job so that way I can make back some of the money I spend on traveling around Europe in December.. haha!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Terribly sorry for the lack of updates!

I'm sorry that I didn't get to post more than once this past week.  I've been working on a debate in human neuropsychology and on a paper for the same class, as well as trying to keep up with exploring Oxford and having a decent social life.  Needless to say, I'm obviously not finding enough time to put together a blog post!  Terribly sorry.

I finally received my debit card on Monday, which was a huge relief.  10 days without money in a foreign country isn't so fun.  I also successfully opened a bank account with Barclays here in the UK and wired the money to it earlier this week.  I just need to receive my debit card from them and I'll be good to go.  It's nice having two bank accounts just so I can have a back-up if the same horrific experience reoccurs.

My friend Sara and I (who is also a visiting student) are playing our winter break vacation.  I'm insanely excited about it.  We're going to Athens, Greece to visit Stephanie (from Bryn Mawr), to Rome, then Barcelona, then Paris and finally back to London.  Sara's flying home on the 26th but I'm staying throughout break, so I'll be taking the rest of the time to explore the UK (hopefully Edinburgh and Dublin).  I have an interview set up to work a telethon for St. Anne's starting in early January, so my travel plans depend on whether or not I get hired to work that.  It'd be nice to make some extra money after blowing it all the previous weeks.  I also have an interview to work in the development office here doing spreadsheet work.  Income is much desired.

The weather here has been surprisingly nice for October/November, so far.  We had a cold spell that lasted for about a week and dropped below freezing for a few nights.  However, it's low 60s today so I can't complain.  I'm hoping this weather holds out for awhile, as riding 3 miles on my bike one-way to row will get a little bit old in the freezing weather.

Speaking of rowing -- I think the 1st men's boat is planning to enter a regatta during 6th week (two weeks from now) and hopefully I'll be coxing them.  That's the goal, anyway!  If not now, then in the near future.  They definitely have a ton of potential, which is quite exciting.

Karina (my really good friend who is studying in Norway currently) is visiting me on the 10th.  I'm meeting her in London and we're going to pow-wow around London until Thursday evening, at which point we're hopping aboard a Megabus and coming home late for my classes on Friday morning.  I haven't seen her in over a year and a half, so it'll be a nice rendezvous!  Here's hoping for decent weather.  The following week Steph is coming and we're seeing the Harry Potter premiere and also heading to London on the 20th.  She'll be here during the regatta (if I'm coxing), so that will also be really cool.

On a side note: what happened, America?  Seriously, we lost the House to the GOP?  You've got to be kidding me.  A personal favorite site of mine:  Ignore the profanity; it's a great website.


Homemade Sunday dinner with some lovely Brits & Americans!