Monday, October 4, 2010

Greetings from Oxford!

So I've finally gotten around to writing on this blog too... I've been in Oxford for a week now and am loving the sense I get here, literally like I've been transported into a different time. The city has so much history and tradition (commemorative plaques line the streets bearing such famous names as Fleming and Boyle), and it's not uncommon to see a professor ("don") or student walking the streets in full decked-out school robes. Sort of Harry Potter-esque. So old and unreal.

I've spent my time getting situated in the city, meeting people, and exploring places like museums and libraries - Oxford has so many! Unlike the other abroad programs that Stanford offers, overseas Oxford students don't have a homestay or host family, but instead live together in a large conglomeration of three former townhomes on the High Street, combined into one house and also hosting staff offices, classrooms, etc. As you might have gathered from that description, the Stanford House is sort of a maze, with a million staircases, in-between floors, and hidden hallways. I still haven't figured out exactly where everything is, and I got lost on my way back from the laundry room this morning...

Like Justine, I haven't had anything that feels like "real" class yet. The first week mostly consisted of orientation activities, tours, and free time, though my architecture class did take a field trip to a museum on Friday. The entire Stanford-in-Oxford crew traveled to London on Saturday, too, where we saw such sights as the Tower of London (very creepy), St. Paul's (spectacular), and a performance of Henry IV at Shakespeare's Globe theater. As an English nerd, it was amazing to see the Globe in person! This week is yet more orientation stuff (including Stanford-affiliated college information sessions and some more introductory classes), and then the Oxford term starts next Monday. Oxford students are only in class for 8 weeks per quarter, meaning that 1) they cram in their work when they are here, and 2) they're very self-motivated even when away from university, often pursuing their studies alone. And, actually, the educational system here isn't as much class-based as individual tutorial-based. But more about that another time. Right now I'm focused on enjoying myself before the workload really starts.

Missing everyone and the horses! I did try to find a suitable barn to ride here, especially since the English countryside is so beautiful, but that effort's failed so far. More about that in a future post, too.

- R

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