28 July 2008

In Retrospect: Day 1

As my first day of classes, today was my most anticipated day at Oxford.  I've been nervous about all the material being over my head, of being laughed at as the youngest here, of getting in trouble for not being able to get all my books (thanks, Amazon.com).  As such, I woke up this morning at about 3 with a raging stomachache, which didn't get any better through breakfast.  This wasn't helped by the fact that eating in the Great Hall is intimidating by itself.  

My morning class, taught by a Dominican monk on "The Bible and Archaeology" went very well.  He's a sweet, soft-spoken kind of man whose cheeks get very red when he drinks (as I've noticed at dinner) and who, every once in awhile, stamps his foot and says, "Damn!" with a certain sort of alacrity to punctuate what he's saying.  It's rather endearing, really.  The class, cut in half by a morning tea (I love England, by the way), was mostly review for me (thanks, professors!!!!!) about the four authorship traditions of the Old Testament and asking whether the archaeological evidence supports what's written in the Bible.  Despite missing some of the books for the course, I'm looking forward to it.

My afternoon class, on "Human Knowledge and Divine Wisdom" was very different.  The professor, while one of the friendliest and most down-to-earth scholars I've met, has the sort of knowledge (or maybe it's just the accent) that intimidates you to the very core.  I had a difficult time following him during the beginning of class, but I vowed during afternoon tea that I would dominate the second half.  It wasn't all that bad.  I understood most of what he was talking about, and I even got in a few comments walking out of class with him.  That class still makes me nervous, especially considering that the reading for his was mostly philosophical and even the philosophy professor I sat across from at dinner tonight admitted the reading is difficult.  

Tomorrow we shall see if the proof, as they say, is in the pudding.  Or at least the morning and afternoon tea sandwiches. 

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