Spring break pt.1

A lot has happened since the last blog post I made back at the end of 4th week. I’ve finished my second term at Oxford (time is FLYING by), Catz Ball happened, I ate a lot of scones, and I started the Easter holiday with a trip to Wales.

The highlight of this term was Catz Ball. If you’ve talked to me or follow me on any form of social media, then you’re probably tired of hearing about it, but let me tell you again, it was something else. I’ve never experienced something so extravagant before- with multiple stages, bars, food stands, and other activities (including glitter face art). The theme was “illumina,” which was reflected in the decor inside and outside. It was definitely a night I will not forget for a long time. The Ball was also great because I got to see two friends, Maddie and Alicia, who don’t go to Catz anymore. Maddie’s a friend from Jewell who attended Catz last year and is one of the reasons I chose Catz, and I met Alicia when she studied at Catz during Michaelmas term. It was really great to spend time with these ladies and all my other friends that weekend.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the night:

 

A couple weeks after the Ball was Guest Night, which is a formal hall at Catz where you can bring guests from other colleges, but I just went with friends here. I’ll definitely miss multi-course meals being served to me with wine when I go back to America.

Spring has sprung at Oxford and blessed us with lots of flowers and a few sunny, warm days.

At the end of term, Ryan, Anne Kat, and I realised we have not seen that many colleges in Oxford, so we decided to be tourists for the day and visit them. 30,000 steps later and we can cross 20 of the 38 colleges off the list!

Grace’s family was in town and took us all to dinner and we took this cute picture of all us visiting student Oxford ladies.

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I spent the first part of 9th week at Oxford and then headed off to Cardiff, Wales for a few days by myself. The weather wasn’t the best as the sun only came out for a few minutes one day. However, the city has a really interesting history and it was nice to explore somewhere new.

I spent one day walking along the Bay.

I also visited Cardiff Castle. The inside was so ornate and beautiful. Also the daffodils everywhere really made up for the weather being a bit rubbish. 

The highlight of my trip was seeing a ballet at the Wales Millennium Centre. While I was there, The Red Shoes was on and I was able to get fairly good seats at a decent price. I debated doing this so much, but in the end I’m so glad I did because it was wonderfully done production with a lot of great dancing and fun costumes.

I leave tomorrow for a couple week trip to the continent with my friend Clare and will eventually be meeting up with another friend, Erin. Following this, my dad is coming to visit and we’re going to Scotland, so it’s going to be a busy busy busy next few weeks.

Ohhhhh we’re halfway there

The end of 5th week seems like a good time to write about what I did over New Years and before term started, right? This term has been really busy, but I finally have some time to sit down and write. This also marks the halfway point of my time at Oxford, which has flown by. 

So here we go…

After my mom left, I spent time in London, Oxford, and Dublin.

Two days before New Year’s Eve I was in London and went to the Natural History Museum and V&A museum. At the V&A, there was a dance group performing excerpts from the Nutcracker and even though it was definitely a performance geared towards families, they danced beautifully and it made me miss dance a lot.

I spent NYE in Oxford with some friends at Blackfriars. It was probably one of the best NYE’s I’ve had (and one of the few I actually stayed up until midnight for). We started off 2017 with champagne on top of the Oxford Mound while watching fireworks. I’m struggling to find the words to describe this moment because it was kind of surreal- like I could not believe that I was in another country, at Oxford, surrounded by friends, standing on top of a 11th century mound of dirt ringing in a new year when it felt like I had just arrived at Oxford a few weeks prior.

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Anyways, I spent the next two days in London before heading to Dublin. On New Year’s Day, I met up with Danny, a friend from Catz and we got dinner in Chinatown.

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I spent my last day in London exploring the city. I went to Harrods and Westminster Cathedral for Mass. I also went to the National Gallery. Even though I had been with my mom a few weeks prior, I love this museum and would visit all time if I could. I also checked out Westminster Abbey during their evensong service. I wasn’t that impressed, but after seeing St Peter’s Basilica, nothing is really comparable.  

Now to the most exciting part of this post- DUBLIN. I absolutely loved Ireland and I really enjoyed traveling alone here.

The first day I went on the free walking tour with the hostel I was staying at to get acquainted with the city. Our tour guide was really funny and recommended a lot of non-touristy things to do. However, after the tour I saw the Book of Kells and toured the Guinness Storehouse, so I was very much a tourist my first day.

Honestly, I wasn’t that impressed with the Book of Kells. It was pretty, but I wanted to see more than the two pages on display- especially since you have to pay to see it.

I really enjoyed the Guinness Tour, the exhibits were all really well put together and they let you pour your own pint.

Day 2: Cliffs of Moher

I went through a tour bus company for this day trip and we had perfect weather- not too cold, no rain, and no fog. I recommended the tour to other people at my hostel and when they went they couldn’t see anything because the weather was foggy and cold. On the tour we stopped a few places on the way including Dunguaire Castle, built in the 1520s, and Poulnabrone dolmen, a portal tomb that predates the Pyramids and has Stonehenge-like myths associated with it.

We stopped for lunch in a small town and there are this cute cat outside the pub.

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Baby sheep on the side of the road.

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The cliffs were absolutely gorgeous!

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After the cliffs we stopped at the “baby cliffs,” which were equally as pretty. The walk out to these cliffs was a bunch of uneven, rugged rocks, but the view from the edge was worth it.

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Day 3: Museum Mayhem

It rained this day, so I planned to spend it in the various museums around Dublin.

I started at the Chester Beatty Library, which is a  museum with all sorts of decorated religious texts. I spent multiple hours just walking around staring at all of them and definitely preferred this to the Book of Kells because I saw equally as pretty Qu’rans, Torahs, and Bibles, plus there were more than just two pages of them.

After this I went to Christ Church Cathedral for afternoon prayer that lasted only 5 minutes, but also got me inside for free. Then went to the Archeology Museum and the National Gallery. By this point in my travels I was very tired of museums, but both of these places were still neat. I finished the evening by going to St Patrick’s Cathedral for evensong.

Day 4: Howth

I met a young woman from Ireland working at a hostel in Dublin on my trip to the Cliffs of Moher and she recommended I go to Howth. She also said I could buy a child’s ticket for the train, so my transportation for the day was only 3 euros (even if that did mean I was pretending to be between the ages of 5 and 15-oops).

This is the most perfect little seaside town. I did the long 10k hike along the coast and it was worth all the mud I got on my shoes and clothes. I got seafood chowder for lunch and ate it sitting on the pier looking out onto the ocean. After, I walked around some more, read my book, and eventually watched the sunset. I ended the evening by going to Sunday Mass at the local church, ate dinner, and headed back to the hostel.

Day 5: Last day.

For my last day in Dublin, I started by visiting the Kilmainham Gaol, a historic jail where many Irish revolutionaries were imprisoned and executed by the British, including those involved in the Easter Rising.

I popped into the Modern Art Museum on my way to Phoenix Park. There was this monument in the park that was cool. I don’t know what it’s for and I have yet to look it up, but here’s a picture.

It was recommended that I go to the canals, which I got to around sunset, so I didn’t see that much of them. I went to this really cool pub/restaurant by the canals that made really good, cheap pizza. On my way there I passed this church that advertised a “folk Mass,” so naturally I was curious. Don’t really know how to describe other than I’ve never been to a Mass like that before.

A lot has also happened since Dublin, including 5 weeks of term! I can’t believe I’m over halfway through my time at Oxford!!! It’s crazy and I don’t want it to end. Below are some pictures from this term. The first half was really busy for me, but I still managed to enjoy the sights of Oxford.

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Oxford has been especially beautiful this term. It even snowed a few days!

In science news: I got to tour the Natural History Museum “behind the scenes” and saw the only remaining dodo soft tissue!! I also got to attend a lecture by Thomas Südhof, a Nobel Prize Winner.

There have also been a couple of Entz this term:

And I attended a formal hall at Mansfield and got to dress up and wear a gown.

Also went to Leeds Castle and Canterbury last week with some friends from Catz and Exeter.

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Catz Ball is tomorrow/today, so my next post (hopefully not 47584 months late) will be about that! Also if you made it to the end of this post, I’m proud of you. 

Christmas in Rome

As usual, this is a very late post. I’m currently back at Oxford and should be starting my essay and reading, but here I am writing about a trip that happened weeks ago. Despite how long ago it was and the other things on my to-do list, I can still say touring Oxford, London, and Rome with my mom was amazing! It was so nice to be able to see her and spend Christmas with her. Also, spending Christmas at the Vatican is every Catholics dream.  

Because of the crazy Missouri weather her flight was delayed by a whole day and then some, so I was only able to give her the “short” walking/jogging (there’s so much to fit in) tour of Oxford because we only had a day here. We started at St Mary’s Church tower because it has a wonderful 360-view of Oxford, and then got tea and scones at my favorite place, Vaults and Garden. We were able to visit the Natural History and Pitt Rivers museums, which I had not yet been to even though they’re free and I’ve been living here for three months.

We headed to London in the evening the next day and walked around a Christmas market and split some fish and chips at a pub. The following day, we walked all around London seeing Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and St Margaret’s Chapel by Westminster. We were at Buckingham for the changing of the guard, which I found very anticlimactic and the best part was the dog wearing a coat. After this, we walked to Trafalgar Square and went to a church service at St Martin in the Field (this will be a recurring theme, as you can go to churches for free if you go to service), followed by an afternoon spent in the National Gallery. To top off this busy day, we went to St Paul’s Cathedral for their evening song (and see the inside) and got fish and chips for dinner at a restaurant near Tower Bridge.

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The following day was our travel day to Rome, the highlight of the trip!

Day 1: We visited the Colosseum and Roman Forum.

Day 2: Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel, and St Peter’s Square

The Vatican museum was huge! There were so many rooms and different themes throughout. It started with Egyptian artifacts, then Roman sculptures (including the torso that inspired Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel), a tapestry room (some of them were interactive in the sense that the eyes would follow you as you walked past or the people would change orientation), and a map room with maps of Rome and Italy covering the walls, as well as paintings of saints and other stories corresponding to locations in Italy on the maps.

The Sistine Chapel was absolutely gorgeous. We were able to get a seat along the wall and using our Rick Steve’s book, we read about all the paintings. I definitely can still hear the guard yelling “no photo” in my dreams, but maybe that’s just because I took a photo.

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Day 3: Christmas and the Pope!

The Pope does a blessing at noon on Christmas day and we got to St Peter’s around 9 o’clock thinking we could either catch a Mass or find a good spot for the blessing. We walked right up the front of the barriers and thought we would have front row standing “seats,” but then they moved the barriers and allowed the people there to fill in the actual seats in front. We sat about fifth row back, which was perfect (because the first row was blocked by the media). Seeing the Pope was probably my personal highlight of the trip because even though I could not understand a word he said, it was still so neat to hear and see such an influential person, not to mention the leader of the Church. Little did we know this would be the first of two Pope sightings. We got to attend a Mass in Italian at the side altar of St Joseph inside the Basilica and then we also went to an English Mass at Santa Maria in Traspontina, a church directly outside Vatican City. After yet another dinner of pasta/pizza we made our way back to where we were staying and popped into St John Lateran, which was equally as beautiful as the Basilica, in my opinion.

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Day 4: St Peter’s Basilica, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain

We went back to St Peter’s on Monday because the cupola would be open and I really wanted to climb to the top. I’d say it was worth it- look at that view!

We also got to see more chapels inside St Peter’s because everything wasn’t blocked off for Christmas. We just happened to walk outside to eat some lunch and we heard the Pope speaking. He was giving an address from his apartments next to the Basilica, so we were lucky enough to see and hear him speak twice!

After this, we went to the Pantheon, which was closed, but I think the outside was still pretty cool, as was the gelato we got nearby. Then we walked to the Trevi Fountain. We threw in our obligatory pennies and left because it was VERY crowded. We found dinner at a local restaurant with homemade pasta and it was by far the best meal of the trip. We ended the night with more gelato after metroing back towards where we were staying. 

Also, throughout this day we would pop in at any church we past and we saw some amazing altars and ceilings. Two of the churches had mirrors set up so you could look at the ceiling without straining your neck, which was nice.

Sadly, our trip had to come to an end and we headed back to Oxford the next day and my mom left the following morning. After she left, I spent a day in Oxford working on some school work and then headed off on my solo adventure to London and Dublin (plus NYE in Oxford), which I will eventually get around to writing about.

My pilgrimage home/to Downton Abbey

I’m a little behind on writing, as my mom was here and we were travelling around Oxford, London, and Rome. Prior to her visit, I went to Newbury, England for a few days. This is the town that is closest to Highclere Castle, famous for its appearance in Downton Abbey.

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This was a really exciting trip for me because, as you probably know (hence the blog name), I am obsessed with Downton. Newbury itself is a pretty good sized town and I stayed at an Airbnb with a really nice couple- they even gave me a ride to the train station and into town one day.

The castle itself is difficult to get to and unless you have a car or are on a bus tour, you have to take a taxi. Luckily I was able to find some fellow college-aged Americans that let me join their taxi back to Newbury and they didn’t make me pay.

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My initial reaction was that the castle looked smaller than I expected, but don’t get me wrong, it is still a rather large building. I got there around 11 and my ticket didn’t get me in until noon, so I started by going to the exhibit they had and realized it was a lot bigger than I expected, so I opted for getting food instead. I got tea and a scone from the cafe because what else would you eat at Downton?

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After this I queued to go inside. The focus is primarily on Highclere Castle and it’s history, not Downton. However, all the rooms that were used in filming were labeled and had pictures from filming. Not all the rooms were used, so I also got to see multiple other rooms, which were obviously decorated similarly and looked like they could have been from the show. Aside from the chairs and couches, the rooms looked just like I remembered. When I came back to Oxford, I stayed with a friend for a night and she had never seen Downton, so we watched it. It was really neat to rewatch the show and see the rooms I had been standing in a couple of days before.

Also, pictures inside were not allowed, but here are some anyways.

There were carolers singing Christmas songs in the main foyer, which was nice to hear as I walked around. There was also a very tall, well decorated Christmas tree.

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One of my favorite parts was walking down the main staircase. It felt like I was Lady Mary in the show, which sounds super cheesy, but I enjoyed it. I also walked up the stairs and then got yelled at by an old lady because apparently the house is a “one-way system.”

The house ends with a path to the exhibit, which is about the history of Highclere. The 5th  Earl (George Herbert) was actually part of the team that discovered King Tut’s tomb, so there were lots of relics from previous archeological digs and replicas of the more important relics that are in Cairo from King Tut’s tomb. I had no idea about this connection, so this was a really interesting exhibit to see.

There were also some parallels between Highclere and Downton. For example, both were used as hospitals during World War I. The 5th Earl was involved in a bad car crash that nearly killed him and he married an American women for money in the interest of the estate (if you’ve seen the show you’ll understand these references).

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I had an additional day in Newbury, which I spent shopping around, getting some Mudhouse-quality chai tea, and walking to Donnington Castle. Donnington is just some castle ruins located on the edge of town, but it was a semi-nice day (for England) and I didn’t have anything else to do. The sun actually came out while I was sitting by the ruins and it was a beautiful view.

My next adventure was showing my mom around Oxford, a trip to London, and the most-exciting part- Rome, including not one, but two sightings of the Pope.

 

Germany and Austria

As soon as term ended, I left for a week long adventure to Germany and Austria. I traveled with one of my friends from Jewell, Abby, who is also studying at Oxford. We visited Munich, Salzburg, and Vienna. It was a very busy week of traveling and sightseeing, but was a lot of fun.

Saturday: We left for Munich Saturday morning from Oxford. Once we got there and checked into our hostel we went to the Christmas market to walk around and find some food. The Christmas market in Munich is HUGE and is full of all sorts of booths selling anything and everything.

Sunday: On Sunday we went to Füssen, Germany to visit Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau castles. Hohenschwangau, also called the Yellow Castle, was the summer residence for the Bavarian royal family. In this castle, the king, queen, and children all had their own floors and did not interact with each other except at meals.

Ludwig II, who grew up in the Yellow Castle, designed and built Neuschwanstein. However, he mysteriously died at 40 and construction of the castle was never completed. In fact, the castle was opened to the public for tours within weeks of his death, so it is exactly how it was found. The castle looks complete from the outside and many of the rooms inside are complete. All the rooms are designed after Wagner operas, so each one is unique. For example, between two rooms filled with formal, gold-plated details there is a room designed to look like the interior of a cave. One of my favorite rooms was the throne room, and although there is no throne (it was built, but not delivered after his death), the room is still amazing. It is designed such that the ceiling is heaven, the floor is earth, and the chandelier in the middle is shaped like a crown to represent the idea that the king is the earthly connection to heaven.

Aside from the plane, this was my first view of the mountains, and it was especially pretty around the castles.

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I didn’t get any good pictures of Neuschwanstein because by the time we left, it was dark and there was a dense fog.

MondayOn Monday, we started our day at St Peter’s Church in Munich. They have a clock tower you can climb with a 360 view of the city. It was a relatively clear day, so we were able to see for miles. The number of church steeples you could see on all sides was amazing. There must be a church every 4-5 blocks!

After this we made our way to Dachau. We tried to tour the Palace there, but it was closed, which was disappointing since we rode the city bus twice trying to determine where to get off. Nonetheless, we were still able to walk around the gardens, which provided a nice view of the city. After this we found a cafe to warm up in and drink some tea. We found a local place and upon entering and standing in the doorway for an awkward amount of time, we soon realized no one spoke English. This was the first time we had encounter an area with no English speakers, but we were still able to order and pay. We had planned on getting a quick snack here, but were unsure of what anything on the menu meant, so we opted for a different place with buttered pretzels- that were REALLY good.

Next we went to the Dachau concentration camp memorial. This was something that I personally wanted to do after taking a WWII and the Holocaust history class last year at Jewell. Although this was a somber couple of hours, I’m really glad to have been able to see the places I learned about last year. The camp was a lot bigger than I had imagined. The main barracks are recreations, but still allowed you to imagine 2,000+ people living in a space made for 200. Walking through the few original buildings that are left was probably the most moving part. One of these buildings is the area that “special prisoners” were held in. The hallway contained chamber after chamber and the feeling of death and torture was very imminent as we walked down the seemingly endless hallway. The other original building was the crematorium and gas chamber. Although they are unsure whether the gas chamber at Dachau was used, it was still eerie and moving to be standing in the room.

After this we headed back to Munich and ate dinner at a well-known, traditional German restaurant where we enjoyed sausage, potatoes, and beer, followed by dessert at the Christmas market.

Tuesday: Before departing from Munich and heading to Salzburg, we walked to the English gardens. Even in the winter the grass was still green and it was simply beautiful despite the cold temperatures. We made it back to the center of town to see the Glockenspiel clock chime at 11 o’clock. The figurines inside the clock tower dance around when the clock strikes the hour.

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Glockenspiel clock

After checking into our hostel in Salzburg, we toured Mozart’s birthplace and multiple churches including the Salzburg cathedral and St Peter’s Abbey (I swear there’s a St Peter’s in every town). I didn’t really know that much at Mozart or music history, so this was an interesting and informative museum. After dinner, we went to, you guessed it, another Christmas market. Here we bought a giant chocolate covered pretzel that we split back at our hostel while watching the Sound of Music (because what else would you do in Austria?)

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Us and our giant pretzel at the Christmas market.

Wednesday: For our last day in Salzburg we spent the morning on a Sound of Music tour. This was a really neat way to see Salzburg and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, it was a very foggy day, so the “really nice views” of the Austrian countryside were white walls of fog. When we got back to Salzburg we walked around and ended up walking far enough upward to have a nice lookout of the city. Before catching our train to Vienna we had to experience a beer hall. We actually got there as they were opening and there were lines of people waiting. Inside, the “hall” was huge and many people had brought picnic-like lunches with them. Everyone lined up, grabbed a mug of desired size, rinsed it out, and then selected which beer they wanted. This was a fun way to end our time in Salzburg and an interesting atmosphere to experience.

Thursday: Thursday we spent touring the local churches and museums in Vienna. We went to the national treasury with the crown jewels, the main history/art museum, and then one with three mini unrelated exhibits on ancient Roman artifacts, instruments, and armor. The history/art museum was huge. We spent multiple hours on the 0.5 floor alone! That night we had traditional wienerschnitzel at a local restaurant. We probably should have split the portions, but each ordered and ate our own. No shame.

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At the art museum.

Friday: On Friday, we went to Schönbrunn Palace, the former imperial summer residence of the Habsburg family. We toured 40 rooms of the palace and that was only a fraction of them. To be honest, I knew nothing about Austrian history or the Habsburg family, so it was interesting to learn about their history here and at the museums the day before.

We also toured the Vienna State Opera. Aside from the fun facts that the opera house has over 180,000 costumes that take up 6 miles of space and a different opera is performed every night, we learned that they sell standing tickets to all the operas on the day of the show for 3-4 euros! This motivated us to get back in time that night to see an opera. In the meantime we located the areas where Mozart and Beethoven lived while in Vienna and found more wienerschnitzel on the opposite side of the city from the opera house, which was even tastier than the day before, plus it was served with a variation on potato salad that was lemony (we’re still not sure of the name because we couldn’t read the menu at all). Luckily, Vienna has a really good underground transportation system that’s color-coded and easy to use, so we were able to get back to the opera house in time to get standing tickets. Despite the fact we had already walked 10 miles that day, we were ready to stand for the opera (it wasn’t too bad because we could sit on the floor for a few minutes between acts and at intermission). Our “seats” gave us a view of everything except for downstage right, which for three euros is nothing to complain about. The opera that night was Falstaff and as expected, it was really good. There were also little screens at each seat that had subtitles for the opera so we were able to follow along.

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Seeing Falstaff!!

Also because I know you were worried, we did find a Christmas market in Vienna too.

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Vienna Christmas market

Saturday: Alas our trip had come to an end and we made the journey back to England. Thankfully all of traveling went smoothly. Passport control checked our passports on the train between Vienna and Munich and this was the first time anyone made a comment on my last name being German. And believe it or not, on the plane I met someone whose son also goes to Catz- small world, right?

My next trip (which I’ve already taken and will post about soon) was to see Highclere Castle/Downton Abbey. Then my mom is coming to visit and we are traveling to Rome.

 

Merry Oxmas!

The first term is over, all 12 essays have been turned in, and I can finally relax. The last few weeks have flown by, leaving me really busy and currently scrambling to empty my room of all my belongings before I leave tomorrow for Germany and Austria!

Catz gang at Turf Tavern
Catz gang at Turf Tavern

Right after my last post I celebrated my 21st birthday. You could say it was a bit anticlimactic since the legal drinking age here is 18, but it was still a fun day filled with friends and memories. I got tea and scones with Erin, and then went to dinner at Turf Tavern and got cocktails with my friends from Catz.img_5036img_5047

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving!!
Thanksgiving!!

The following week was Thanksgiving and Catz night. Both of these nights were formal three-course meals served with wine in the dining hall. After two consecutive nights of lots of food and wine, I was already used to the idea of doing that every night- if only! They served a traditional Thanksgiving meal and it was pretty good; I was impressed. I spent most of Thanksgiving Day helping cook for the Newman Society’s President’s dinner, which I was unable to attend because of my dinner at Catz, but it was a fun way to spend the day, plus it felt more like Thanksgiving since I was cooking all day (although my parents will tell you I don’t actually do that much cooking).Friday was Catz night, which is the ‘black tie’ formal of the year at my college. We sit according to subject and some of the tutors also attend. There was an Entz afterwards and some of the tutors stuck around to talk to students, and in the case of my tutor, she stayed to dance.

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Thanksgiving meal pt. 1
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Thanksgiving meal pt. 2
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Thanksgiving meal pt. 3
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Attempt to be festive with the table decor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catz night pt. 1
Catz night pt. 1
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Catz night pt. 2
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Catz night pt. 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Catz night with college mom
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After Catz night at the Entz with Alicia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This past weekend I went to Stonehenge and Bath. Although Stonehenge may just be a pile of rocks, it is still pretty neat. The rocks were a lot closer together and formed a tighter circle than I expected, but it’s still amazing that most of the rocks are still standing, as well as the theories of how they got there in the first place and their purpose is interesting.img_5160

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I have pictures from every angle, but I won’t bore you with ALL of them.

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The sheep were really cute. Second best part after the rocks.
The sheep were really cute. Second best part after the rocks.
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Roman Baths

After exploring Stonehenge, we went to Bath and explored the Christmas market there and toured the Roman Baths. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about Bath prior to this trip, but still really enjoyed the town and the Roman Baths (which is more than just one big naturally warm pool, contrary to what I thought). While exploring, we also came across a Catholic Church that was beautiful inside, which made up for the fact the Bath Abbey was closed to the public that day.

Christmas market
Christmas market
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The church
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The town of Bath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This past week was filled with lots of Christmas spirit, as I attended multiple Christmas caroling programs. There are also multiple Christmas trees around Oxford, including my favorite- the one outside the Bodleian Library. This week has been bittersweet because although it is nice to be finished with term, many of my new friends are leaving. We had a wine and cheese night on Monday to celebrate our friendship and hangout before the tackling 8th week, which we all survived!

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Christmas tree at the Bod.
Catz night. Also special shoutout to these three for making this past term so much fun and enjoyable. Steph & Alicia- I'm going to miss you two so much!! Ryan- can't wait to bring you as my guest to Hall every night! Kappa Zeta reunion soon!
Photo from Catz night. Also special shoutout to these three for making this past term so much fun and enjoyable. Steph & Alicia- I’m going to miss you two so much next term!! Ryan- can’t wait to bring you as my guest to Hall every night! Kappa Zeta reunion with scones and Catztails soon!

 

Not so blue fifth week

Getting cream tea is becoming more a regular, stress-relieving activity.
Getting cream tea is becoming more of a regular, stress-relieving activity.

It’s hard to believe the fifth week of the term is already over! At Oxford, the start of fifth week marks the halfway point and supposedly “fifth week blues” set in, a feeling of sadness/stress/every emotion because of all the work. Because of this there are lots of events held to lift everyone’s spirits. Personally, I think being used to 16-week semesters prevented me from falling into this supposed pit of blues, but I will admit I am getting tired of continuously reading and writing essays.

Since my last post, a lot has happened, from attending interesting lectures to my first crew date to visiting Windsor Castle, but one of the coolest things happened during my lecture last Friday. My course includes a lecture series on nutritional anthropology during the last four weeks of term. The lecturer, Stanley Ulijaszek, is an author on a majority of the papers I read for my essays. I didn’t realize it was him until he cited himself mid-lecture. This wasn’t a special lecture, just an average lecture that students attend like any other class, so getting to hear him lecture really put into perspective what it means to be at Oxford because I’m surrounded by so many influential, intelligent people of the scientific community (and others).

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Steph and I at the crew date
Participating in one of the many games of the crew date where we had to touch the ceiling.
Participating in one of the many games of the crew date where we had to touch the ceiling.

During this week, I got attend a lecture with the Catz Biomedical Society and two at the Newman Society. I also attended my first (of hopefully many) crew dates. A crew date is a social event for sports team. This probably makes you wonder, what sport could I possibly be playing? Answer: badminton. Surprisingly, I’m not terrible. Anyways, for crew dates you usually go to a restaurant to eat, drink lots of wine, and then go to the club afterwards together.

College mom and I at Park End after the crew date.
College mom and I at Park End after the crew date.

img_2132The biggest event this week was visiting Windsor Castle on Saturday. This was a very spur of the moment decision, as I had/have a lot of work to do, but I decided to go anyway. I got to take the train for the first time, which was great because I love public transportation (just ask any of my friends about how much I loved the Metro in DC over spring break).

The mound that the Round Tower is built on dates back to the 11th century!
The mound that the Round Tower is built on dates back to the 11th century!

When we got to Windsor, we ate lunch before visiting the castle and got to explore the town a little bit. We took a walking tour of the grounds of the castle where I learned it is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world. The castle is home to the Royal family and is where the Queen spends a majority of her time- she was actually there on Saturday! I like to think we made eye contact through the window, but in reality she probably had her back to me.

The Queen was in the room at the center of this picture, so this is my selfie with the Queen.
The Queen was in the room at the center of this picture, so this is my selfie with the Queen.

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Part of the dollhouse
Part of the dollhouse

We toured many of the state rooms inside the castle, saw Queen Mary’s dollhouse (which has working plumbing!), and visited St George’s Chapel where ten British monarchs are buried- including Henry VIII.

Despite the no picture rule, here are some pictures from inside…

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Ceiling of one of the state rooms
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St George’s Hall with the shields of all past and present knights.
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St George’s Chapel
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St George’s Chapel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More exterior pictures:

The grounds were absolutely stunning.
The grounds were absolutely stunning.


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More pictures from the last couple of weeks:

Halloween with the one and only Erin. Featuring costumes from our closet and our classic pose for all pictures.

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The Friday after Halloween: Freaky Fairground Entz at Catz. Going to miss themed costumes with these girls next term!

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Seriously going to miss these women next semester!

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Finally, fall at Catz/Oxford. The leaves here do not disappoint.

The leaf wall outside my dorm... it's looking a lot worse now, but it was beautiful.
The leaf wall outside my dorm… it’s looking a lot worse now, but it was beautiful.
I walk through University Park on my way to lecture.
I get to walk through University Park on my way to lecture multiple times a week.