Saturday, January 29, 2011

One idiot said to the other idiot, "Doesn't he know it's rude to eavesdrop?"

Since my last post, there has been two movie nights and two tutorials, an "inkings" meeting, and a delicious breakfast of hashbrowns and scrambled eggs.  Yes indeed, life at Crick Road is good.  The question is, though, what has happened that would be remotely interesting to you my avid readers.  What would induce you to heights of ecstatic appreciation of my evocation?

Honestly, I don't know.  That's probably why I haven't written a blog post recently.

What has happened is mainly that I am falling in love with my food group, which is pretty much the awesomest  Of course, we are The Food Group Formerly Known as Awesome, and for those to lazy, we go by "Awesome."

The other day, one of the S(cholarly) C(hristians) I(n) O(xford) staff Simon joined our food group and pretty much made it the funniest night of our lives.  His humor is brilliant.  Unfortunately, as all good jokes exist within a context, to repeat them would be to do them a disservice. Yet I will anyways.  One example was when he told a story about his son.  His son, as he told us, is very sensitive, and will collapse if he senses that his father is displeased with him.  Once, this son threw food on the table, and Simon told his son, "Rory, we don't do that."  And then Rory looks at him and says, "Daddy, I won't do that anymore."  Seeing that the girls got really emotional, I made the comment that if Simon were to tell more stories like that, the girls would probably start crying.  Simon then said, "But we won't.  Nothing touches these bowls of steel!"

See what I mean by you need to be there?

And that's the problem with writing these blog posts.

I had my first creative writing tutorial this past Wednesday, and I am amazed at the man who does them.  Somehow, he is able to tell you that you're the worst writer in the world and make you feel good about it.  I'm not entirely sure how he does that.

Anyways, hope everything is pleasant stateside.  Be back on here hopefully sooner rather than later.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

All my life I've been dying to know

Ah yes, another day, another year, and another something or other that would make your head spin were you to know it.  Thankfully, I value the unqueasiness of your stomach, so I won't mention that one.  But, you are not reading this to hear my random and wild thoughts, but to hear about Oxford and England and why you should be so utterly envious of me that you run around your house screaming until you're lungs stop working.  Please call an ambulance before proceeding.  Your heath is my priority.

In any case, shall we?

Monday began my orientation, which basically meant I went to Wycliffe Hall and heard people talk for half the day, then spent the rest of my day hanging out with people.  On one of the days (not sure which) I was led on a tour by an extraordinary Classics professor named Jonathan Kirkpatrick who happened to live in the Kilns.  Now, for those ignorant of these matters, the Kilns once belonged to the great C. S. Lewis.  And, if you don't know who that is, then, I pity the fool.

Jonathan Kirkpatrick led us around on a sightseeing tour, giving us various details that were entertaining, and interesting, and all the better because we got to hear a British accent.  One thing, however, to bear in mind is that British people walk really, really fast.  He left us in the dust.  Like Usain Bolt at the Olympics.  Of the amusing things he shared, one was that there are several colleges who claim to be the oldest colleges of Oxford, these being University, Balliol and Merton.  Another is that the All Souls' College has a traditional duck hunt where the dons walk around the walls of the castle in chase of a duck.  This is due to the fact they discovered a dead one while digging for the foundations.  Hilarious factoids do not stop there, as we were also informed that Christ's Church (another college) runs five minutes behind time, because back when it was founded, Oxford's time was five minutes behind London's.  This was a result of the latitude.  So when trains began running, and they switched to a universal time zone for convenience, Christ's Church decided tradition was stronger, and thus still remain on the old Oxford time.

My roommate and I scored big time on our food group.  Not only do we switch dinners off with people who are fun and will clean up, but they also cook amazing meals, and bake absolutely brilliant desserts.  Tonight being the soon-to-be world famous lemony bars, the quote resulting being "That's transubstantiation going on over there!"  Those bars are perhaps the best tasting square inch I've ever had.  An explosion of flavor in your mouth in every...single...bite......

Needless to say...well, if it's needless, then I won't say it,

Moving on....

Yesterday, I went to London, where we jogged after a diminutive Australian, visited a variety of famous historical places, heard the darkest, yet funniest, stories ever, and saw the national gallery of art.  Though, perhaps, the best part was the several hours worth of chatting, and the delicious Chipotle burrito at the end.  Yes, I did say Chipotle.  There is only one in the nation, and I ate at it.  You ask, why?  So many things you can't have in the states, and you choose Chipotle?  Well, it's good, isn't it?  And for further, unnecessary justification, I can eat anything in London in Oxford, but there is no Chipotle in Oxford.  It's the truth.  And it is sad.  Life is painful folks.  It really is.

Move night, ah yes, movie night.  Our brilliant head of house Sam chose the film Amazing Grace.  This being the second time I've seen it, I once again form the conclusion that the movie is one good film.  And, I must admit, the second time was better, if only for the fact that British candies, biscuits and cookies were served.

The time is not drawing to a close, I could devote many more hours to this, but I'm getting bored writing it, so that means you must be equally, if not more, bored than I reading it.  Cheerio chaps!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

An Unextraordinary non-Gentleman's arrival in England

I felt like my gradual immersion into England started in Atlanta at the plane flight to London, where I began to hear lots and lots of foreign accents.  There were several French and British people on the plane, one being a family from England that sat fairly close to me, and I began to hear the coveted British accent then.

Upon arrival in England, I was walking with my carry-ons when a British man stopped me and handed me my boarding pass telling me.  "You dropped this, it might be important."  I said thank you, and was just super excited to hear the British accent.  Getting through customs was easy, as was getting my luggage.  Now, getting my bus ticket to Oxford was a bit more of a challenge.  I tried to use the self-checkout because the sign told me to, but it never accepted my card, so I got in line and had to purchase it from the lady, but she was really nice so it worked out in the end.

I think the bus driver got mad at me because I had no idea what I was doing, but I eventually got on the bus and we left the airport.  At this time, all I had seen of London was the airport and the sky, so I didn't quite know anything about it.  London-Heathrow airport is a fair distance from the city, so when we left the airport, we pretty much went straight into the countryside.

The best word I can think of to describe the land is gnarly.  Everything seems old, and twisted, and the ground seems to be covered in shrubs.  On the softly rolling hills grows this grass that seems so soft and somewhat uncared for.

I wasn't that weirded out by driving on the wrong side of the road, but more so--much more so--by the driver seeming to be on the wrong side of the car.  It is somewhat odd to look down and where you're used to seeing a driver is and empty seat.  You'd be surprised at how disorienting it can be, especially in comparison with the relative ease it is to accept that these Brits drive on the other side of the road.

My first viewing of Oxford was the outskirts, which wasn't that impressive, but once I got more towards the center of the town, I was struck by the buildings.  You can't really describe the experience of seeing these 15th or 16th or whatever-century-they-are buildings everywhere, especially when they're oddly juxtaposed next to buildings obviously built much later, as in the last half-century. (It's weird thinking that half-century can mean 1960...)

Unfortunately, after getting off the bus, my card didn't work in the ATM, so I had to walk to Crick (the house I live in is on Crick Road), and unfortunately had no idea how to get there, so I wandered around Oxford for about an hour until I found it.  Thankfully, being lost in Oxford just means you get to see more of the fantastic buildings, even if it is raining.  I don't mind rain, so it was all good, but I have to admit I was very glad to find Crick at the end, and get moved in.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to walk around Oxford with one of my roommates, and that was very enjoyable.  Pretty much everywhere in a certain area is so utterly beyond anything I've ever seen in the States.  My roommate and I walked around talking about Philosophy, Theology, and Literature, soaking in the sights, and sometimes indulging in conversation that wasn't quite so deep, which is also (I believe) important.  It was a great experience.  During that walk, I had an English Americano, if you can catch the irony there.  I also heard the story of how the Americano was invented, and I hope the story is true, because it's pretty hilarious.  And no, I'm not going to tell you.

Ok, just kidding.  Basically, the story is that some Americans in France wanted some normal drip coffee, and couldn't find it anywhere, so they went to a Barista and asked for drip coffee.  She made espresso then added water, and handed it to them and said, "Here's your Cafe Americano."

I hope that's true.


I was also able to go to a pub yesterday (and had a coke, in case you're wondering).  That was pretty fun, to be in that environment.  It was called an "old man's pub" because it wasn't that rowdy, and the atmosphere was one more relaxed and conducive to conversation (rather than rowdiness).

Today, then, I went to St. Ebbes church, which is like an Evangelical Anglican church, and I was very impressed at the expositional style of preaching.  I felt like it was fairly close to a church that I would choose to go to back home.  Obviously, having real wine for communion was a bit different, and the fact everything was said with a British accent.

As far as people are concerned, Sam and Graham (Which is not pronounced "gram" like we do, but "Greyam." He's rather particular.) are great leaders.  Both are PhD students at Oxford.  Sam studying History, and I'm not sure what Graham is studying.  Then the students for the most part are really neat people.  My roommates are really neat people, and I am really glad I am with them.  One of the students is from Zimbabwe, and he seems really cool.  It threw me at first, because his accent sounds very similar to British ones (they are not all the same).  Another student was born in Sudan and moved to the States when she was nine, so there's a pretty broad range of students, though all of course go to Christian schools and are on the more intellectual side of things.  It's an experience I probably would not have anywhere else.  I also have a pretty firm belief that I'm the youngest person in the programme....though that hasn't been confirmed yet....

The British accent is one of the coolest aspects, and I am hoping I learn how to speak it (which I have a feeling I probably will, seeing as I already am figuring it out). Some of the things they tend to do is rather odd.  They'll add syllables where we don't, and drop them where we don't.  One of the weirdest things, however, is the "r", which is dropped out of words where it shows up in the middle, like "bird" or "here", but is added to the end of words like "pizza" so Sam will say "The pizzer is heah,"

I am looking forward to see what else will happen.  I will try to get some photographs up onto this blog here in the near future.  We shall see, we shall see.  (Because, well, we'll have to).