The Obligatory Last Post...

So here I sit in the Dallas Fort Worth airport waiting for my flight to Louisville. It keeps getting delayed, hopefully it will leave sometime soon. My flight from Madrid to Dallas was decent. I had never flown 10.5 hours in day light, it seems much, much longer than the night flights. The food and such was as good as a flight (in 'tourist' class at least) could be. Now I have at least and hour or so (depending on when my flight actually leaves) to kill - seems like a good time to wrap up the blog.

I guess I'll start with what I'll miss about Europe. At Oxford I'll miss having any resource I could ever want at my fingertips. I'll also miss going out in Oxford and being 1.5 hours or so from London - a great city. I'll miss Europe's diversity and liberal mindset. I'll miss the open attitudes of the people at Regents. And, of course, I'll miss the many people I met while abroad.

I won't miss living on the British Pound or the Euro, it will be nice to live on the dollar again. It will be nice to drive places again, to know where I'm going. It'll also be nice to get things together for senior year and to work a bit so I can save money (rather, so I can pay my bills from Europe) for the coming semester. It'll also be nice to know all of the people around me again.

I'm not exactly sure what else to say. I suppose if you have questions you should probably ask me in person.


A quick jaunt around Europe

So I haven’t updated my blog in a while as I’ve been traveling with my mom and her friend - Rominey. We started out in Oxford then headed to London, Paris and Barcelona. They left Barcelona today (Thursday) and I headed onto Madrid. I’ll be home on Monday (July 6) around 11pm or so. I’ll go ahead and post a bit about each place, however, I don’t have good internet at my hotel so I won’t be able to load any pictures - I guess you’ll just have to ask to see them when I get back :) … plus I’ve taken about 1,300 pictures and that doesn’t count Madrid!

As a whole, Oxford is a great little town. It’s quiet, pretty and there’s quite a bit to do. However, it’s expensive (more so than London really) and everything closes early. Overall, it’s a great place to study but I’d rather live in London and take the 1.5 hour bus ride into Oxford every now and then. As far as my mom and Rominey’s trip goes, I took them around Oxford - we saw some colleges, went to the Pitt Rivers Museum (where we saw real shrunken heads), and walked Christ Church Meadow. We ate at the Eagle and Child (a must in Oxford), fish and chips in fact, and had sandwiches from Taylor’s for lunch - the sandwich is pretty much lunch on a daily basis for lots of people in Oxford. I’m quite sure I wore them out but the day was good.

London was lots of fun. We saw all of the sights (Buckingham, Big Ben, London Eye, etc) and went to the Tate Modern (great museum btw) and the British Museum (good, but a bit overrated in my opinion). It was easy to get around on the buses and the Metro and, of course, everyone spoke English which made things quite easy. All in all, I think London was both my mom and Rominey’s favorite city.

Paris wasn’t what I expected it to be in all honesty. For one, it’s must more similar to the cities I’m used to (big, Spanish-speaking, South American) than I thought it would be, it’s also not the cleanest place ever (that’s taking the fact that it’s a very large city into account). However, the food is good and all of sights (Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, etc) are great. Now, being an art history major I have to say that I love Parisian museums. The Louvre is amazing. The building (which was the royal palace before Versailles, just fyi) is a sign all in itself, yet it holds a seemingly endless amount of art work. It was great to walk around and see many of the pieces I’ve been studying in textbooks. The Museé d’Orsay was also great. It houses more recent works (the stars of its collection are mostly Impressionist) which I tend to like more. It was also great to see many of the works I had just learned about in Dr. Decker’s End of Impressionism class. (A picture of me with Le déjeuner sur l’herbe-famous painting- will be up when I can upload pictures.) Overall, Paris was a good place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there. I’d also prefer to explore Paris with someone familiar with the area - it’s huge, to see the “real” Paris you’d need someone who knows what they’re doing; rather, where they are going. In other news, my trip to Paris has caused me to decide that I’m going to learn French. I’m not used to not being able to communicate (I’ve had only traveled to English or Spanish speaking countries up until this point) and I don’t like the feeling.

Barcelona is a great city. We left Orly airport in Paris (not such a great airport really) and flew into Barcelona. It was quite a bit hotter as Barcelona is on the Mediterranean. THe city is amazing. The people are great and, and this is a plus for me, it’s a Spanish-speaking city. Well to be honest, it’s a Catalan-speaking city, but since no one else outside of Cataluña really speaks Catalan everyone there spoke Spanish as well. Beyond the language it was great to be back in culture I’m at least somewhat familiar with. The city really doesn’t have the “must see” sights like Paris or London, however, it boasts amazing “modernista” architecture. Park Güell, designed by Antonio Gaudí, was by far my favorite. And, of course, the Mediterranean was nice as well. I could easily see myself living in Barcelona - although I’d need lots of sunscreen.

I took the Ave (a high-speed train) from Barcelona to Madrid. The Ave is amazing - you have more room to move around than on the Eurostar and there’s a movie. It’s also just a nicer train overall. It does go rather fast (it tells you the speed, we were going anywhere from 175-200 mph at any given time) but it’s an extremely smooth ride. I’d travel by Ave all of the time if I could. I have seen very little of Madrid thus far, however, it seems to be a nice city. The Metro is the best way to get around (although it’s not as good as London’s or Barcelona’s) and seems to be efficient, however, I’m learning that many of the museums and such aren’t really very close to a Metro stop - that’s not fun. The biggest difference is the heat. In Madrid it is/will be about 97 degrees each day. The heat index will be 100+ - it’s hot in Madrid. In the shade it’s not too bad, but in the sun it’s really quite unbearable. That’s about it for now, if I have a decent internet connection I’ll update more; if nothing else I’ll be home Monday.

80 = 44 and a fire alarm

I started off the day with lunch in college (lasagna - it was quite good). After that I headed to the post office to ship some books home so that I wouldn't have to carry them all around Europe or pay for the extra weight on a flight (it wasn't cheap though). Next I headed to a bank to change some cash I brought with me. As of today, with no commission or anything at this bank, 100 USD buys you a little over £44 - yea, the exchange rates sucks like no other at the moment. After that depressing moment I headed to the Ashmolean. The Ashmolean is an amazing museum that boasts an impressive collection of everything and enything from all over the world. Unfortunately it's closed until November for remodeling. However, the print room is still open to art and art history students. I was there for a couple of hours looking at a portrait of Isabella d'Este and some works by Raphael. I was also looking through their portrait collection of Elizabeth I and Charles I. During this time the fire alarm went off (never a good sign in a museum, especially in the print room) which meant I actually got to walk through a good part of the museum itself to exit. It turned out to be just people working on the fire system, but b/c of their mistake I got to see a lot more of the museum than I would have. All in all it was great. Tonight I'm going to dinner with my college moms then going out for one last night in Oxford. Tomorrow I move into Regents, have formal hall that night and then the last college bop after that. Saturday is Valediction. Sunday I'll write my last essay the my mom gets here on Monday.

Heli Ride

Today I went for a ride around Oxford in my housemate's helicopter. It was amazing. Here are some pictures.

City Centre (where all of the colleges and such are)

Phil - he's a ministerial student at Regents, he also live in Spencer House

Tony - this is his helicopter

'Touristing' it up in Oxford

So today it was actually warm and rain free...and I had absolutely nothing academic to do. I decided to explore Oxford a bit since I really hadn't had the chance to since I've been here. First I headed to Christ Church Picture Gallery. It was quite amazing, especially since the collection is quite interesting, and valuable, yet it's owned by a college. Although from the standpoint of working in the Georgetown galleries (after you work in any gallery you start to pay attention to certain aspects of shows/galleries/museums) I was quick to notice that most of the works on painted on wood and it was very humid - quite a bit of the wood was rather warped. Nevertheless, it was great. After that I headed to the Oxford Museum of Natural History which was interesting. However, the Pitt Rivers Museum (an anthropology museum attached to the Natural History Museum) was exponentially better. It was extremely interesting and I had never been to a museum quite like it. Next I headed to a few of the colleges, mainly Trinity, Jesus, Balliol, Brasenose and Exeter. I also climbed the tower which is located near the RadCam which made for some amazing pictures. It was a good day and I saw much of what this city has to offer. I also realized that Oxford isn't near as big as it seems at first.

Week 7

The Tute
This week I'm writing about how the Tudors used the royal image and what that said about their view(s) of the public. More or less I need to comment on why the Tudors didn't have much of a public presence and what that says about their dynasty. So far it's going well. Since my essay last week was the best grade I've received thus far, even though I thought it was the worst, I'm trying to model this week's after it. I'd post images but there really aren't any for this essay.

Formal Hall
This week's formal hall is a bit different. The former principal (most similar to the president or perhaps dean of an American college/university) of Regents' portrait will be unveiled. There will be speeches and lots of people I've never seen before but it should be fun and, at the very least, a rare Regents Park Experience.

Final Fling
The end of year ball (final fling) is this Saturday. This year's theme is "Arabesque" so it should have an Arabian Nights kind of feel to it. Basically it starts out with dinner then drinks and entertainment - the "survivor's breakfast" starts at 4am. It should be fun (I hope it will be fun since it costs £50 - about $80).

Helicopter Ride - another try
Before final fling on Saturday we are going to attempt the helicopter ride again, hopefully all will go as planned and it will work out.

The Rest of My Time Here
After this week there is only one more week in term. That week will be filled with an essay, a visiting students goodbye dinner, final formal hall, a bop and valediction - lots of things. Oh, and I'm also determined to go punting once more, this time sans the torrential downpour. My time has gone by super fast, more on that later I suppose.

England is really expensive. On top of that, Oxford is one of the most (if not the most) expensive cities in England - yes, on many things it's more expensive than London. Beyond that, many Oxford students tend to have, let's just say, "deep pockets" or at the very least some frivolous spending habits (just to qualify, I don't want to imply that all Oxford students are well off, that's not even remotely true). In other words, it can be hard to still have fun, esp with the Brits, and live on a budget here - my bank account is certainly reflecting this right now. It's going to take some serious budgeting, and perhaps less in take of certain fermented substances, if I'm to survive and have fun on my mini-trip around Europe after Oxford.


So it was quite sunny and warm here last week. This week it has been a bit cooler but still sunny, until yesterday at least. Yesterday I was supposed to go punting, it had rained that morning but had cleared out, that is until we left the college to walk down to the docks. It ended up raining rather hard - we still went punting, we just stayed under a bridge and drank Pimm's for an hour and a half or so. After that I went to formal hall, which was fun. Today, I was supposed to go up in a helicopter over Oxford, however, it's still raining so that won't happen. Two very good plans, both ruined by the wet, unpredictable English weather. Oh well.