One to go

I just emailed my first Oxford essay to my tutor - all 2,293 words of it. Hopefully she'll think it's at least decent. I guess I'll find out on Friday...

Essay One

So my first essay assignment is designed to introduce me to court culture. I have to explore the relationship between art and the court then pick two images which represent court painting. Next I have to define why these paintings are representative of court painting and explain their importance by explaining the works. Lastly I'm to comment on who these paintings would've been important to and for what reason. I've yet to start writing it but it will be finished today. This is just an FYI as to what I actually work on while I'm here. The two images I'm utilizing are below:

Anthony van Dyck
Charles I in the Hunting Field
[Image from]

Diego Velázquez
Las Meninas [The Maids of Honour]
[Image from]

Some Pictures

The Bodleian - this is around the part where I study daily but this isn't quite it, hopefully I have pics of that up soon.

The Bod...again

...and again

...yet again, although the building on the right is the Sheldonian Theatre

Helwys Hall - the dining hall at Regents. It was just remodeled after break so all of the decorations and portraits aren't on the walls (the scaffolding usually isn't there either...).

All Right?

So this is a quick post - there is one part of British culture/English I can't adapt to. Rather than saying "What's up?" or "Hello" the Brits often say "All right?" (and yes, they say it as if it were a question). What's the correct response to this? Any American would say "Yea, I'm just fine" or something long those lines, but the correct response is "All right?" - yes, you answer a 'question' with another 'question.' It's quite confusing and I never answer it correctly. I've managed to start to hold my fork in my left hand with my knife in my right but I can't answer a 'question' correctly.

More info here. (Scroll down to "All right?" - continue to read around if you wish.)

A Cold, Rainy Today

Today was the first real day of the term. I started off by walking to Regents for lunch. Afterwards I headed to the Bodleian Library, well more specifically the Radcliffe Camera (RadCam) to start working on my tutorial. After walking in and heading up to the Upper Reading Room, which first required that I allow the guard to search my bag for drinks, food and/or pens, and collecting my books from the front desk I got to work. I finished my senior thesis proposals for the Art Department back at Georgetown. I also finished half of my final assignment for my End of Impressionism class at Georgetown. After that I was able to read one of the books for my tutorial. Since it was cold and rainy I didn't really feel the need to walk around town which meant I was in the mood to get things done. I did realize that I rather enjoy a non-lending library. The Bodleian (Bod) doesn't check out books. Instead you have to go online, find the book you want, request that it be sent to a reading room and pick it up - you can't leave with the book (the guard also checks your bags on the way out), you must use it while there. I thought I'd hate this system at first, but really it makes things quite easy - the librarians do all of the work, you just go to the front desk. The Bod does have some books on open shelves, but they are very easy to locate. I also enjoy studying in such a pretty place, you can see a picture of the RadCam itself with the link above -it says RadCam- I hope to take some inside shots tomorrow morning when I go. Libraries are different here in that they are extremely quiet - no one talks to people or on cell phones. After that I headed to dinner at Regents then on home to Spencer House. I had some tea (Earl Grey with milk of course) with some Digestives (delicious cookies) then headed on up to my room for blogging, Facebooking and a bit of reading. Tomorrow I plan on being at the Bod by no later than 10:30, taking some pictures and getting some work done. I have to turn in my first essay by Thursday at 10am, that gives me time to have some fun Thursday and Friday. I hoping to go to London soon, perhaps this weekend, to go to the Tate Modern and Tate Britain (they have Van Dyck, William Blake and Turner exhibitions right now!!). Hopefully I'll go to London another time soon to go to The National Gallery (they have two Picasso exhibits right now) and The British Museum - I'll save The Eye, Buckingham Palace and such for when my mom crosses the pond in June.

Two Moms and a Bop

Last night was quite fun, it was Regents first bop (dance more or less). The theme was "Room 101" (from the novel 1984) so people dressed up as their worst fears. Needless to say there wasn't anything too scary there, mainly a group of bees (well they called themselves wasps), some clowns, a shark, a pregnant girl (costume of course) etc etc. It was a bit different from a Georgetown party in that there were fewer people (Regents is much smaller) and the music was a bit different - there was quite a bit more techno and a few random other songs. Perhaps the largest difference is the bar. Side note - the Regents bar is the cheapest in the Oxford system.

As an incoming student you are assigned a college mom and dad - upperclassmen who answer your questions and help you get settled in. Not many students come in for just Trinity Term, so I ended up with two moms - Amanda and Sarah. Both are quite wonderful and have introduced me to quite a few people here. Both are also Theologians but insisted we took a round of family shots last night - photo below.

HOA...and I don't mean Home Owner's Association

One of the first things I learned in Oxford is that my subject area, art history in the U.S. is known as the history of art (HOA) here - if you say "art history" they surely understand what you mean but it takes them a minute to realize it. So I'm starting to use "history of art," well really "HOA," instead.

Today I had my first meeting with my tutor, Yu Ping. Yu Ping is a graduate student in the HOA Department. As an undergrad she studied Western art history but her research focus now is imperial patronage of art in early modern China. My tutorial topic is early modern court culture which means I'll be studying the art and history of the [royal] courts of Europe from about 1500-1750 or so. It should be quite interesting. Basically we meet once a week for 8 weeks - we meet on Fridays at 11am in the History of Art Faculty. Each week I am to produce an essay based on assigned readings. The best part is that Yu Ping isn't like most Oxford tutors with her reading lists. Most give students a list of 15 or so books each week, some you have to read others are "recommended," and a very general topic. Yu Ping only requires about 100 pages of reading per week which she has carefully selected. She also recommends essay topics each week but we are free to write about anything relevant to the reading. Basically when I told this to the other Americans here in Oxford they weren't too happy with me, they all have much, much more reading to do each week. My first essay is rather easy. I read a few general readings about court culture, pick two images then write a paper on them (introduction, formal analysis, contextual analysis, compare/contrast, conclude). The goal of this paper is for Yu Ping to see how familiar we are with art history and to see how we write. Yes, I did say "we," there is one other person in my tutorial. Her name is Ashley and she is a history student from Yale. It will be interesting to have an art history tutorial with a history student as she will surely bring different material to the discussion.

The Food

All meals are eaten in college at Regents Park. Lunch is at 1pm Monday-Friday and dinner is at 7pm - Friday dinner is formal hall. Lunch consists of the main course and desert (or a baked potato and salad if you aren't a fan of what's being served) while dinner is the same plus a starter. It's quite a change to have a 2 course lunch and 3 course dinner everyday. Overall the food is quite good. Something quite different from Georgetown is that all meals are served "Harry Potter" style in that everyone sits at long tables and you are waited on. There's also quite a bit of tradition that goes into these meals. You walk in and stand behind your chair and wait for the graduate students to enter. They then say a very, very short prayer and everyone is seated. You don't get up until the grad students do. During formal halls people bring wine and there are candles and such. Everyone is dressed up and in their Oxford gowns - hopefully I'll have a picture of those after this Friday.

Overlseeping and a cell phone

Today didn't start out so great. I've been using my iPod touch as my alarm clock since I've been here, last night it apparently turned itself off somehow (it was fully charged). So I ended up waking up at 12:21 this afternoon when I was supposed to have been at Regents for library orientation at 11:30 - oops. On top of that I had to shower and such and still make it to Regents by 1pm for lunch, needless to say I ended up taking the bus today. I did indeed make it but have felt rather rushed ever since. Good news is that it was no big deal that I missed the orientation and that I talked to Dr. Robson, if I have any questions about the library system we'll take care of them (I'd already figured most of the library system out before today). After all of that, and a great lunch at Regents, I met the last two visiting students to arrive - they are from Carson-Newman college in TN. We showed them around a bit then I headed to Cornmarket Street to buy a cell phone. Skype, while a great thing, hasn't worked the best for me, and other people here, lately. I found a cell phone that costs 9.95 pounds (about 15USD) and that only charges 6 pence per minute (about 0.09USD) to call the USA. That's extremely cheap so I went ahead and bought one. It also gives me a way to keep up with people here, although calling/texting within the UK is quite a bit more expensive. Now I sit here planning out my weekend, unfortunately it's filled with work rather than fun as it's now time to start focusing on the academic side of things. Tonight I'll head to dinner at Regents then most of the American students are going out to a pub afterwards.

My cell number: 07805 118 643 (inside the UK)
011 44 07805 118 643 (from the US - although that would be terribly expensive)

Oxford Libraries

First and foremost, there are tons of libraries here. Each college has its own then each faculty (subject) has its own. Then there's the Bodleian. The Bodleian is very old and houses many, many, many books - combined the Oxford libraries house 11 million books. Most are not on the open shelf meaning you must request them ahead of time and they are sent to the library of your choice. There are numerous manuscripts and old books you won't find anywhere else in the world. Furthermore, the Oxford Libraries receive, by law, a copy of every book published in the UK - this began in 1842. In short this means that the library system is rather complicated. I've yet to fully experience it as I won't be in the library system until Thursday. Nevertheless, I felt the libraries deserved a blog post.

You can see a map of all of the libraries, which shows you just how many there are, here.

A Slow Day

Today has been a much slower day compared to the action-packed days I've had thus far. First I went with Tyler into town so he could send some presents back home. All I learned from this experience is that shipping things to the U.S. is quite expensive and they really don't take much that weighs over 2kg (about 4 lbs). I also learned that the post office is a madhouse and very crowded with all kinds of people - from Brits mailing things to people changing money and many senior citizens (or pensioners as they are called here) sorting out various issues with paperwork. Next we headed to Boots which was a rather interesting store. Imagine taking the make-up counters from Macy's, the health and beauty section from a Walgreens, the pharmacy from a Walgreens and the baby clothing section from Target and mixing it all into one store - this is Boots. It was rather interesting to take in. It's where you buy most of your shampoo and such thought so it's rather important that I know where it is. Afterwards we headed to a sandwhich shop, which was extremely good and only 2.60 pounds (about 3.75USD). I had the thai chicken with cilantro sandwhich on a baguette with butter (yes they butter the warm baguette for a sandwhich) , mayo, salt, pepper, lemon juice and other toppings. It was quite good and very cheap. That pretty much sums up my day. I've got some work done to finish my classes at Georgetown and I've done some laundry - yes, I already have laundry. The loads of laundry here are super small (about 1/4 of what they are back home) and my Listerine bascially exploded on some of my clothes in my suitcase when I was flying here. Tomorrow is my first day of meals at Regent's which should be very interesting.

The British Accent

So I've come across one problem I have with English culture - the accent. From studying Spanish for a decent while (now that I think about it 7 years!) I naturally listen to what is being spoken around me and do my best to replicate it - in a sense I easily absorb accents. In Mexico, Chile and Argentina that was a great thing as it's always appreciated when someone learning a foreign language tries to learn the accents as well; however, when you start to do the same with your own language it becomes a problem. I find myself naturally letting words slip with a British accent. I'm doing my best to stop it but my inner "language learner" is making it quite difficult. Hopefully I can put a stop to this before I meet all of the Regent's students this coming week.

On a side note, I'm told that Brits speaking in an American accent is rather interesting and that they have a hard time doing it - they tend to just insert "like" quite a bit. I really want to hear this firsthand.

Christ Church and English Ale

Today Tyler and I went to Christ Church, the largest of the Oxford colleges. It also happens to be the college where a decent portion of Harry Potter was filmed or at least based on - the dining hall and staircase are nearly exact (well minus the magic and such). It's quite pretty to walk around and see the gorgeous college and I took quite a bit of pictures, some of which are below. After that we did a bit of a "pub crawl" and I tried my first real English ale (served at room temperature and non-carbonated of course) which, to be honest, was quite terrible. Tyler tells me I'll learn to like it but I beg to differ - it was rather bad. We then headed to a second pub, the Lamb and Flag, and I tried my first cider, I rather enjoy cider. So in a nutshell I tried the two main English "beers" today and enjoyed one while I hated the other.

Before heading to Christ Church and such we did head to Summertown which is about a 5 minute walk from Spencer House. In Summertown you'll find many shops and restaurants - we headed to a couple of grocery stores and the Wine Rack. The grocery stores are quite interesting in that they feature many prepared items that you merely finish at home. Yes, we have many of these types of items in the U.S. but they take up a few aisles here. There's also quite a bit more of what would be considered ethnic food in the states in the normal grocery store here. Wine isn't necessarily cheaper here but you do indeed get a bit more "bang for your buck" as you tend to get higher quality wine for cheap. After my first few grocery store experiences we rode the bus into town to head to Christ Church - the bus isn't exactly cheap here. A one way ride into town is 1.80 British Pounds which is about 2.70USD, and that was about a 5 minute ride - needless to say, I'll be walking most of the time.

You can view photos from Christ Church here as well as a few below.


So I've come to the realization that a lot of people reading my blog don't know what Skype is - in a nut shell, it's pretty much the best thing ever. You can make international calls using your computer for free (if to another computer) or for extremely cheap prices. For example, I talked for about an hour today and spent under $1 - that includes the connection fees I had to pay. You can also call cell-phones and it doesn't change the price. On top of that, you can send SMS messages for $0.01 per message. I write this because Skype is indeed the only way to get in touch with me if you actually want to talk.

You can download it by clicking here.
My username - Jsnider88

On a sidenote, I've become slightly addicted to blogging since the term hasn't actually started yet (it starts a week from this Monday). I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoy when people write comments about my posts :)

Tomorrow is Christ Church College and Oxford Castle - those should provide some excellent pictures.

Books, Books and more Books

So these are all of the books I've bought thus far. The Very Short Introductions came from the Oxford University Press Bookstore while the other's came from Blackwell's - a huge bookstore with different branches. These books came from the Art & Poster Store but their main branch is gigantic. In the basement there are around 3 miles of bookshelves! Needless to say I need to stop buying books, they aren't exactly cheap (although these are all cheap for art books) and I need to start thinking of how I'm going to get them home.

Spencer House and Other Photos

My room.

TV room

(Free) Laundry


Kitchen again.

Courtyard just off the kitchen in my house.

Inside the gate of my house.

Outside of my house.

Random church I pass on the walk to my house.

This is the courtyard at Regent's. This was taken at night so it's not too colorful.

Day One

So I arrived in Oxford at Gloucester Green where I met up with Tyler. We then walked to Regent's where I talked with Dr. Robson, whom I had met in Georgetown, then Bob, he's in charge of maintainance, gave Tyler and me a ride to our house. Originally I was going to have lunch at Regent's but I ended up arriving too late for that to happen. I quickly threw my things in my room and Tyler and I headed out. We walked around Oxford a bit and stopped at a sandwich shop for lunch. But before that we went to the Oxford University Press Bookshop - basically my inner-academic died and went to heaven. I ended up buying three "Very Short Introductions" (if you don't know what those are, you should Google them - they're great). I bought one about Dada & Surrealism, Contemporary Art and Globalization. After that we went to Stanley Road House (the other house where Georgetowners live) to grab Tyler's things so we could move him back to Spencer House (our house). In a nut shell, Spencer House is much, much nicer than Stanley. There's free laundry, free printing, an extremely nice kitchen (fully stocked kitchen) and free wireless. I also ended up with my own room, which was very unexpected. It's a rather gloomy day today (I'm told this is a bit odd for this time of year) but I did take a few pictures while walking around. They are below. Just FYI, I haven't been here long enough to actually tell you what anything in the pictures is.


So I'm oddly energetic even though I've only slept about 20 minutes or so and won't sleep again for another 9 hours - that's about 30 hours or so when all is said and done. Just FYI Oxford/London is 5 hours ahead of Kentucky - meaning that it's 1:15pm here right now but 8:15am in KY. While I'm talking about conversions of sorts, changing money is depressing here. My 100USD bought me 57 British pounds at the airport :(


They, and to be honest I have no clue as to who “they” truly are, say that in order to get the most out of a trip you should set goals. Since I’m sitting on a plane just about an hour into my flight I figure that this is as good a time as any to set some goals. Here they are:
  • Grow academically - I’m studying at what is perhaps the most prestigious university in the world. I think I should really focus on growing as an academic and take advantage of learning from a different professor - don’t get me wrong, I love me some Dr. Juilee Decker but there comes a point where another view point is good. I’ll also have access to nearly any resource I could ever want, so I should probably take advantage of that.
  • Grow personally - I’ve done the whole “living on my own in a forgein country” thing once before but this time it’s a bit different. My last trip taught me quite a bit about myself and how I behave all on my own, but for this trip I’d like to truly take a swing at “real life.” In other words, I’ll be out of school in about a year and I’ll have to live on a budget and all that stuff. This seems like a great opportunity to live on a budget - to decide what I really want to do and to spend my money wisely. Now I’m not going to be a shut-in and never spend money but I am going to spend wisely.
  • Learn about a new culture - I have a slight obsession with other cultures. With any hispanic/latin culture I have what some might call an infatuation but I think I’ll fancy the British culture as well. They tend to be a tad bit more pessimistic, sarcastic and cynical - all qualities I possess and exude daily. I’m also looking forward to not being “the raging liberal” and to be surrounded by people that actually care about human rights and social welfare. Side note - I’m extremely glad I get to go to Oxford after Obama’s win, instead of attempting to explain poor decisions made by my government I can actually be proud of its actions.
  • Have fun - This semester has been extremely stressful. It’s been weird as I’ve only been taking two classes due to how Oxford works. As a result, I’ve been in much more of a work mood rather than an academic mood which has made class somewhat difficult. Add saving up for this trip and other stressors in my life and you have one extremely stressed out college kid. So it’s my goal to wrap up everything stateside before term starts (which is 4/26) so that I can focus on my tutorial and having some fun. Having fun also includes slowing down a bit. I have that "super fast American walk" and it was extremely obvious in Heathrow. Which, sidenote, Heathrow is huge and requires you to walk a ton. I quite literally walked about 2 miles to get everything done I needed to get done.

The start of the journey

Now onto the actual blogging. The trip started off to a bit of a rocky start as my flight from Louisville to Chicago was rather late. The flight was supposed to last about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, but the pilot made up for lost time and we made it to Chicago in about 35-40 minutes. I had half an hour to make it to my flight to London, as did my baggage, and I ran like crazy to make sure I’d make my flight. Yet when I got to the gate I found out that it had also been delayed. Long story short, everything seems to have worked out just fine. However, I’m writing this on the plane so I’m not sure if my bags will make it or not. Update - the bags made it!

I was nervous about flying American Airlines and my first flight didn’t quite help calm that worry. The plane, which was a small commuter jet, didn’t exactly give off a safe vibe - it looked rather old and made noises that I’ve never heard a plane make before. Everyone was as nice as could be so I guess that made up for the crappy plane. The 777 is rather nice and dinner (chicken and rice) was decent. Thus far all is good. I think I still prefer Delta but American isn’t half bad.

The obligatory first post

So first I feel like I should explain the title and the web address of my blog. The title is rather simple - I’ll be studying art history (rather, the history of art as far as Oxford is concerned) in England so it’s art history with a British accent. However, my tutor, Yu-Ping, is Chinese so there’s a bit of Chinese as well. While I’m on the topic, my technical tutorial title is “Early Modern Court Culture” which means that I’ll be studying the art and general history of the courts of Europe. This is a topic that I’m largely unfamiliar with but it does interest me - in other words, I have a lot of reading to do before my tutorial actually starts. Back to the point of this post, explaining my title and such. The web address ( comes from a nickname of sorts I’ve acquired among certain people. “OJ” stands for “Other Jason” as there’s already a Jason around and I was the second to come along.

This is also a good time to get all of my contact info on my blog. The easiest way to get a hold of me is by email. The one I check most often is but, if you must, you can also send emails to My mailing address is the following:

Jason Snider
Regent’s Park College
Pusey Street, Oxford OX1 2LB

Keep in mind that mail takes a bit to get overseas but also keep in mind that I like getting mail :)
If you want to actually talk to me it’s best to use Skype - I’m Jsnider88 on Skype.