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.

Change of Plans

Originally I was going to Stonehenge this Saturday, however, my plans have changed. Tony, one of my housemates (he played a large role in inventing the program all ink jet printers use) while his house is being remodeled in Oxford, owns a helicopter. He's bringing it down from London this weekend and is flying us around Oxford on Saturday afternoon. Basically I can go to Stonehenge anytime but I rarely get the opportunity to fly around Oxford, especially for free. Pictures will surely be taken.

Tomorrow I'm going punting (a punt is a small boat) - that should be interesting.

Week 6, more like "666" really

So week 6 has been extremely rough thus far. First and foremost, Ashley (my tutorial partner from Yale) is going home for a wedding this week so she won't be in tutorial. Second, this week's topic is Asian art which I know next to nothing about. I'm writing on "the European elements in the Kangxi emperor's patronage activities." I completed all of the required reading on Monday yet still had no clue what to write about. I then attempted to locate other sources, as usual, which I completely failed at. Then I emailed Yu Ping asking for advice which, a day later, she gladly gave me. Now I'm on the right track but still have no real clue what I'm writing about. Normally this wouldn't be an issue as I'd still have a day or two to figure things out (the "no clue" feeling is common on Monday's) but it's Wednesday around 8pm and I have to start writing my 2,000 word essay as it is due in about 13 hours, yet I don't really know what I'm writing about. Needless to say, this essay will be interesting to say the least. This is by far my hardest academic week here. At least normally I wouldn't be clueless alone (Ashley would be as well) but this week it's all on me. Yay.

Summer VIII's

Today was Summer Eights, the biggest rowing race after Oxford v. Cambridge. It's a bump race which means it's not about coming in first place but bumping the boat in front of you - yes literally bumping them. Basically the banks of the Isis are full of people and all of the boat houses are selling hamburgers and Pimms, which by the way is amazing. Pictures are below.

Regents Women's Rowing

The boathouses

Regents Men's Rowing

The Regents Blade

Regents women heading down the Isis to start their race

Regents men coming in to dock

Ashley (my tutorial mate from Yale) and I - she rows for Lincoln College

Five Down Three To Go

So I just finished and submitted my fifth essay (which, if you're interested can be found on my MobileMe public page - directions can be found in a blog post or two back entitled "Essays"). This time I had to write about how the Stuart court masque (a type of theatrical performance more or less) used visual arts, poetry and music to depict the political aspirations of the dynasty. I ended up writing about three specific masques. I also discussed Ben Jonson and Inigo Jones, two very important masque authors. Yet before I could do that I had to define the political aspirations of the Stuart court (I focused on Charles I) and define a masque. I only used one image this week, a van Dyck portrait I saw when I went to Tate Britain. Unfortunately the only image of it online is rather crappy, the painting itself is great, the image below does not do it justice. Next week I'll be studying "collecting at the global court."

The Blog

So as you may have noticed, the look of my blog has changed yet again. I think I'm finally content with this one. Although the actual layout of my posts is weird and it won't let me change it. Oh well....this was my five minute break from essay writing. Back to writing about Stuart England I go.

The 5th Week Blues

So my time in Oxford is more than half over - it's 5th week, only this week plus three more to go. It's gone by quite fast. Fifth week always brings along fifth week blues, at least so I'm told. Right around this time everyone starts to get tired of working and not too much is going on as people are sitting for collections (which in the US would mean taking tests - but they only take a couple very important tests). However, in Trinity Term the Wed-Sat of fifth week is very, very important - it's when the Summer Eights occur! Summer Eights is the biggest rowing race, well after the Oxford/Cambridge race, and the banks of the Isis are packed on the last day of racing (Sat). I will be going to the races as much as I can but if nothing else I'll surely be there on Saturday.

In other news, Dr. Juilee Decker (my art history prof at Gtown) will be in Oxford starting this Saturday. She will be here for about a week as she is the McCandless lecturer this year (each year Regents and Gtown switch lecturers). It will be nice to see a familiar face, especially the one that played the biggest role in preparing me for my time at Oxford.

The tutorial is going rather well although this week is a bit challenging. After my tutorial last week, Yu Ping and I talked about my progress thus far and about how I can improve what I've been working on, etc etc (it was more or less the 'progress report' for the term). As a result I'm working quite hard to take all of her advice into consideration and produce the best work I can - we'll see what happens.

The rest of this term should go by extremely fast. This weekend is Summer Eights. Dr. Decker will be here for 6th week, the Regents play is also during 6th week. The Saturday of 7th week is Final Fling (the end of year ball more or less, the ticket wasn't cheap -about $80- but it includes dinner, drinks, breakfast and it's basically the big event of the year). Then it will be 8th week, my last week here which ends with the Valediction ceremony. Then it will be time to travel Europe for a bit then head back across the pond and start the internship search and study for the GRE.

The Essays

So I've decided to go ahead and put my essays online. You can read/skim them if you'd like. Just click here to go to my MobileMe account. Once you click you'll need to type in "public" for the username and "rothko" for the password. To download/view any file you'll need to click the arrow on the far right of each file name. Just a heads up, essay 3 isn't the best thing in the world.

The Rainbow

So while leaving Regents the other day Ashley (the Yale student that's also in my tutorial) and I saw a rainbow. It was quite neat as it was very pronounced - plus it's an English rainbow which automatically makes it at least ten times cooler than any American rainbow.

The 'tute' thus far

So my tutorial (tute) has gone pretty well so far. My first essay was decent (although I don't really know how decent as Yu Ping didn't know she was supposed to give us a grade on it - typically the tutor only grades you once, at the end for your final grade) as it didn't have anything too terrible marked on it. My second wasn't so great but was far from terrible. Last weeks was pretty darn good (a 62 - an A/B in Gtown) and I hope that I can break into the 65+ range this week. The topic this week is finally something different than the previous three - which have all dealt with the artist/patron or artist/court relationship. We can pick between two topics, I'm choosing "How was portraiture used to legitamize Queen Elizabeth I's rule as a female monarch?" It should be interesting as I've never studied anything about Queen Elizabeth. I'm off to read quite a bit, more to come later.


While I put some pictures on my blog it takes forever to upload them. I also have some pictures on Picasa. To see them just click here.

Christ Church Meadow and The River Isis

Today was rather rainy but then it was quite sunny in between the rain. I decided to go for a walk around Oxford and ended up walking in Christ Church meadow. There's basically one path that takes you through the meadow then down along the Isis River. The Isis is where all of the college's row and practice rowing - at the end of the path is where all of their boathouses are. All in all it was a great walk with good weather. I also got to see all three major Oxford pastime in one trip - rowing, punting and cricket.



More punting

Christ Church Meadow w/ Christ Church College in the background

The path

Bridge between the walking path and the college boathouses

Rowing on the Isis

The college boathouses


So on Friday I went to London for my tutorial. I got up quite early and walked to the bus station in the rain. About 90 minutes or so late we arrived in London, where it was partly sunny and not raining at all. First we headed to the Tate to see the van Dyck exhibition - it was great. Ashely (the Yale student in my tutorial) and I walked around with Yu Ping and had an amazing tutorial. It was great to see the pieces first hand. You get a true feeling for their size and you realize things you just can't realize from an image. After this we headed to the cafe at the Tate and had our actual tutorial. Next Ashley and I headed to Whitehall (Yu Ping had a meeting back in Oxford) where we saw the ceiling Rubens painted. After that we saw the London Eye, Big Ben, the House of Parliament, Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. It was pretty great in all honesty to just walk around London and see all of the sites - which are all rather close to one another. After that we got some lunch and headed back to the bus station. When I got back to Oxford it was still raining. I went home and changed clothes for formal. Formal hall was good, with rather amazing food, then in the JCR we had champagne and chocolates night. After that I went out to a pub and then home. Today (Saturday) I went to the fete (like a small carnival) at Regents where they had face painting, a three legged race, etc etc. It was rather enjoyable. Next we headed to lunch at Noodle Nation (as close as I'll get to Yang Kee Noodle while here, although YKN is better) and went to see Angels and Demons at the theatre. All in all that's about it over the past few days. It's been quite fun.

Big Ben

Protest across from Parliament

House of Parliament

the London Eye and the Thames River

The Burghers of Calais (a sculpture by Rodin)

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace...again

Trafalgar Square

Guard outside of some cavalry museum (I don't remember the exact name); I was impressed the the horses remained to still when tons of people were around them taking pictures and such

Whitehall Banqueting House Ceiling - by Rubens