19 August 2008

A Not So Foggy Day in Londontown

On my whopping day and a half between Oxford and flying home, I met Sammi in London to do the whirlwind (and free) tour of Europe's largest city.  Basically, we went everywhere we could think of that I absolutely had to see that didn't involve an admission fee (thanks, absurd exchange rate).  I owe the entire experience to her because, while I consider myself pretty city-savvy, London is a whole other animal and I would have seen nothing more exciting than the view out of my hotel window had it not been for Sammi and her spiffy pocket map of the Underground.  Yes, we minded the gap...that thing is huge!

Buckingham Palace!  It was huge and a lot more open than I thought it would be.  I have to admit, I was a little bit sad that the guards with the poofy hats weren't out and about.  
This was in the top three on my list of things I had to see.   And it was free!  Yay!
This may sound really stupid, especially coming from someone who was in England to go to Oxford, but Big Ben really is big.
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament!  The historical importance was cool, but I'll admit that envisioning that scene in "Harry Potter" where they fly down the Thames in front of these very buildings was the highlight of my Houses of Parliament experience.  Geek extreme.
See the Queen?  No, thanks.  Take a picture with a British Guard?  Nope.  The only thing I wanted more than anything else out of London was fish and chips.  I got them thanks to Sammi.  And it was amazing.

01 August 2008

Public Service Announcement

To those whom are checking in to see how Oxford's going:  

I would highly suggest scrolling down (a lot), as I've added several backdated entries from events earlier in the week.  I knew if I didn't put them in date order it would drive me nuts, so you'll just have to hunt for the ones you haven't seen.  Thanks!

This Is for You, Kip!

All week I've been trying to get a picture of some Bobbies and I finally got one right outside the  Christ Church main gate!  Personally, I don't think the hats make them intimidating, but it was pretty cool to see.  Here you go, Kip, some of your brethren from across the pond!

In Retrospect: Days 4 & 5

When I first got accepted to this program, I was excited but scared that it'd be over my head, the people wouldn't be nice, I'd feel out of place.  Now that the program is officially over, I'm happy to say that absolutely none of those things were true.  Quite the opposite, actually.  

My "Human Knowledge and Divine Wisdom" class was difficult, but extraordinary once the professor put it all together in class today.  Without getting into the nitty-gritty, the entire class came down to this:  Jesus is, among other things, wisdom incarnate.  I haven't made complete sense of the class yet, but I distinctly remember an "Aha!" moment today where I realized that his thesis was absolute genius.  And with good reason, too--it turns out that his doctorate is in Wisdom Literature.  He's been a theology man for decades now, but he's finally coming full circle again with his latest book, which is on the same Wisdom Literature-Postmodern Philosophy blend as our class.  He informed us today of the book, its title, and that he'd be acknowledging our class' contribution to the process in the preface.  I had the pleasure of sitting across from him at the closing dinner tonight (thank you, seat assigning people!) and spoke with him about his studies, my possible future at Oxford (!), and (of all things) customs officials.  He was also kind enough to sign my copy of his book.  That's one that won't be going to Half.com anytime soon.

"The Bible and Archaeology," while a fascinating class, did more for me personally than academically.  The topic was interesting and I learned a lot, but the highlight of the course really was the instructor, Dom Henry.  He is one of the most earnest, kind-hearted people I've ever met, with a true humility despite his incredible amount of knowledge.  He is, in a word, delightful.  He's also the only professor I had enough nerve to ask to take a picture with, as evidenced below. 

In the end, this experience has been infinitely more than I ever dreamed that it would be...more illuminating, more fun, more meaningful.  I met some wonderful people who looked upon me not as the green college student who doesn't even have her Bachelor's yet, but as a colleague.  They asked my opinion about things and were interested in what I want to do.  The entire city of Oxford seemed to approve of my existence, from the Porters guarding the college entries to Tom, the bell, reminding me of the time, to even the buildings that inspire such excellence.  I learned a lot about the Bible and about Theology certainly, but (at the risk of sounding cliched) I learned even more about myself.  The world is, in fact, my oyster and I didn't realize that until I came here.  I leave with full anticipation of returning--it will take a lot of work and a bit of time, but I know I'll be back.  

On my way back to my room tonight after the closing dinner, I was thinking about the experience, how much I loved every bit of it, and how it's changed me so much in such a short time when I had an idea.  Giggling and veiled under the darkness, I kicked off my stilettos and ran barefoot through the grass in front of Peckwater Quad--just because I've been to Oxford doesn't mean I'm not still relaxed enough to stick it to The Man every once in awhile.   I fully expect the Porters to tell me off tomorrow on my way to breakfast.  

A Little Christ Church History

From the Oxford University "Joining Notes":
Christ Church, traditionally known as "The House," was originally founded in 1525 by Cardinal Wolsey as Cardinal College.  Wolsey fell from power before his ambitious grand plan was completed, and Henry VIII re-founded the college as Christ Church in 1546 as a dual foundation of college and cathedral, a unique function which it performs to this day.  There were 101 students on the original foundation and the college bell, known as Tom, chimes 101 times each evening to mark the traditional curfew....The corporate designation of the House is "The Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral Church of Christ in Oxford of the Foundation of King Henry VIII".  

Just thought you should know.  And Tom really does chime 101 times every night, from 9:05 to about 9:08 pm.