So long, farewell Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight. I hate to go and leave this pretty sight

This shall be my final post. The last two weeks have been so full of fun and activities. Thanksgiving Day, the college cooked a meal for all of the American visiting students and we (the Americans) provided the entertainment. That included musical (piano) entertainment, we read a poem and the history of Thanksgiving, and created a short film hilariously documenting a day in the life of an American student studying abroad in England! It was so much fun!The principle of the college and all the tutors for the American visiting students were in attendance.

The following weekend was the Teddy Hall Christmas dinner where we all, after the meal was over, got to stand on our chairs and sing (basically as loudly as we could) the Teddy Bear Picnic song *(see below). The Oxmas (Oxford Christmas) celebrations are continuous this time of year. It really helps one get into the Christmas spirit! The Christian Union here had Christmas Carols at the Sheldonian theatre, then Teddy Hall had their own where we got to sing on the quad and eat mince pies! (basically one of the ONLY times the students are allowed to step foot onto the grass :)

Final grades were given at the end of 7th week but we had to meet one last time with our tutors and turn in a final essay in 8th week! (this week). Then we have something called collections where the head tutor of our department reads the report that each tutor has written up about the student in a five minute session. Basically telling us how we did, how the tutor thought we could improve etc. and to ask and see how we found our term here. Every student, visiting, international, regular student, all have to meet with a tutor and/or principle at the end of each term and get read their report.

Now all of the students have moved out of college and are either going on the Oxford University ski trip, traveling Europe (like myself), or going home to family! It has been a wonderful time of meeting lots of interesting people, sharing ideas, and learning how to live in a place that is not what im used to.

Thank you all for reading. It has been a blast getting to share my experiences with you all. Happy Christmas!!! xxx

*

TEDDY BEAR PICNIC SONG:

If you go down to the woods today

You’re sure of a big surprise.

If you go down to the woods today

You’d better go in disguise.

For ev’ry bear that ever there was

Will gather there for certain, because

Today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

Ev’ry teddy bear who’s been good

Is sure of a treat today.

There’s lots of marvelous things to eat

And wonderful games to play.

Beneath the trees where nobody sees

They’ll hide and seek as long as they please

Cause that’s the way the teddy bears have their picnic.

If you go down to the woods today

You’d better not go alone.

It’s lovely down in the woods today

But safer to stay at home.

For ev’ry bear that ever there was

Will gather there for certain, because

Today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic.

Picnic time for teddy bears

The little teddy bears are having a lovely time today

Watch them, catch them unawares

And see them picnic on their holiday.

See them gaily gad about

They love to play and shout;

They never have any care;

At six o’clock their mummies and daddies,

Will take them home to bed,

Because they’re tired little teddy bears.





Background: Jimmy Kennedy (1902-1984) from Omagh, Co. Tyrone, was a world-famous songwriter. He composed such songs as “Red Sails in the Sunset,” inspired by a sunset over Portstewart strand in Co. Antrim, and “Teddy Bear’s Picnic.” The music was originally called the “Teddy Bear Two Step”. It was written by American composer J.W. Bratton. Irishman Jimmy Kennedy later added the lyrics that have made this song famous.

“Do something in life you never thought you would.” ~ :)

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Helping at Primary school and seeing the deathly hallows

Queuing for HP

Every Friday morning I get to volunteer at a St. Ebbes Primary School. Each time I visit I get to assist the teacher in the year five and six classroom. The kids are ages 9-11. This past Friday was particularly fun because I got to listen to them read and helped them pick out books in their library for them to read this next coming term. They are so enthusiastic and it has been a great opportunity to get involved in the community. I love it when they asked me questions about where I come from and about my schooling, or why I talk differently. In fact, the first they they all asked me on the day that I started volunteering there was, “where are you from? You have a different accent.” Then after I told one young girl that I was from America (that’s what they always refer to the USA as) she quickly asked if I had visited a certain ice cream shop in New York.  It was so cute that the ice cream shop represented America to her.  Also, I did not realize the challenge involved in helping kids to read. Though they really don’t have very many problems reading by this age, on some particular words I am not always sure how is the best way to help them since sometimes the way we pronounce words is different due to the variation in accents, and I’m not familiar enough with the British language to be able to teach them the word in their own accent. It has been exciting nevertheless to be there and to interact with the kids.

Two words: Harry Potter! So I confess that I have not been a die-hard Harry Potter fan and last night actually was the first time I have ever seen one in theaters. However, despite not being the most avid of fans, I went to see it. The cinema was packed and I thought it was hilarious just how many other American students were there. Not only was the group I was with American but I saw more Butler students from the other Oxford colleges and others I had never met before.  I did find it interesting that even with regards to cinemas there is a difference between cultures. There was NO midnight showing for this film, despite the fact that it is just as big of a hit over here too! The earliest showing was a 9am. We ended up queuing (lining) up early for our 8pm showing. Good thing too because it was packed! I heartily enjoyed my first British cinema experience!

Cheers!

xxx

#9: People attend cinemas. It’s not called a movie theater. Oh, and theater is spelled theatre if you are British.

#10: Mom= mum in British English. Mommy=Mummy

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener

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Remember Remember the 5th of November

After it was lit

Remember remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder, treason and plot. I see no reason why gunpowder, treason Should ever be forgot…What’s the significance of the 5th of November (or sometimes referred to as Bonfire Night)??? Well, it just so happens that in 1605 Guy Fawkes, a Catholic, tried to blow up Parliament and kill King James I, a Protestant. Guy Fawkes apparently sought to replace the Protestant leader with a Catholic one. To this day, differing opinions on the celebration remain. Some students love the celebration while others are less excited because they recognize that there was religious persecution on the part of the Catholics, though no one agrees with how Guy Fawkes went about his protest. There is a very interesting and longer version of the story, I suggest reading up on it!!!! (http://guy-fawkes.com/) Hence, every 5th of November Great Britain celebrates foiling his plans by having carnival rides, fireworks, bonfires, and sometimes burning a sort of likeness of Guy Fawkes. Over the weekend I had the opportunity to partake in experiencing a 5th of November celebration. The park not too far from my flat had all sorts of carnival rides, lots of food venues, and loads of people out to see the fireworks. Then afterward we all watched a large wooden effigy of Guy Fawkes being burned. It was kind of a weird experience. Not only was it different having fireworks when it wasn’t the 4th of July or New Years but I can’t say that I have ever been to a place where the burning of an effigy was so celebrated. Nevertheless, it was an experience I was grateful to have had.

Other random interesting events, I have started volunteering at a school in Oxford. I get to help out in the 6th level (9-11 yr. olds) class with reading or any other subject they are working on at the time! Teddy Hall’s football (soccer) team beat New College’s team (which is two levels above ours) 3-0! And, though it may seem silly, a Sainsbury’s opened about a minute walk from where I live!! That’s only exciting to me because now I don’t have to walk ten minutes one way to buy food! It’s an adjustment not only walking to buy groceries but then having to carry them back.

Some things I get to look forward to in the coming weeks: Formal Hall is tonight again (it’s optional to attend every Tuesday evening), Teddy Hall is having a Feast next week! Not really sure what all that’s going to entail but it sounds like a lot of food and fun! And the other visiting (American) students and I are planning our Thanksgiving meal!!!! Can’t wait to eat some Turkey!

Things I’ve learned:

#7: there is no such thing as “Z” here, it’s ZED. Interestingly, that is the only letter of the alphabet that gets special attention.

#8:  When giving a score such as 3-0 the “0” is Nil.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

Nov the 5th

Fireworks!

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Random Info & Formal Hall

strawberry shortcake for desert = AMAZING!

This blog entry will be loaded with random information. And yes, my new favorite british word (for saying a lot) is “loads.” The last week has been loaded with activities! I shall try to limit this entry to only the most interesting. I got to see my first rugby game and it was just AmAzInG!!! The oxford university team played the London Wasps and once the game started there was never a dull moment. Rugby seems similar to American football but the rules are different- fewer of them I would say- and the strategy of the game seems to be different as well. Needless to say, I already find the game very interesting and can’t wait to attend another one.

Formal Hall occurs every Tuesday evening and is basically a fancy 3 course dinner where students get to opportunity to eat well, dress “smart casual”, and wear their academic robes. I went to my first one and it is quite an affair.  There is no seating order except the high table is reserved for the principle of the school, his wife, and the other important college faculty. Everyone must stand when they enter, the principle says a few word in Latin, he bangs the gavel, and we sit and eat. After dinner we all stand, he dismisses us with a few more Latin words, again bangs the gavel, and he, along with the other college faculty, walk out, dismissing dinner. It was definitely exciting to be a part of and see just how much tradition they keep.

Friday, 25-10-10, I went to the Bodleian library and got to see the Jane Austen exhibit. It was a display of her original “Sense and Sensibility” manuscript along with a collection of her books and the last book she was writing before she died. Unfortunately, she was unable to finish it. At the library, there was also a few letters writing by King George III! It is so fascinating to be able to see history so up close!

Finally, there is a milkshake place here in oxford, moo moos, that everybody raves about. I finally tried it and they were not lying when they said their shakes are amazing! I also tried the well known, Ben’s Cookies, but didn’t find them as fabulous and most students did. The milkshakes are definitely a favorite of mine and with 200 different types I don’t think I will be getting tired of them!

I never realized it before but there are quite a lot of words that American spell differently than the British do. For example, public is spelled publick, behavior is spelled behaviour, color is colour and they do not have Z’s here, it is referred to as Zed. Frisbee’s are disks, they use a 24 hr. clock, and the date is written day, month, and then year.

#5: if you are asked if you keep a diary, chances are they mean a planner not the other kind J

#6: when walking down the street and if you are passing someone, in the USA it is the social norm to move to the right side in order to avoid a collision etc. Here, however, there is no such rule. It is perfectly acceptable to pass or move out of the way either by going to the right or the left

“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins

Studying abroad opens up a host of opportunities that you could never have imagined possible!!!

Formal Hall

We get to wear gowns to dinner :)

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Meet the Tutors

Well, my 2nd week at Oxford is over now and I have officially completed my first week of tutorials!!! It may be silly but I feel quite accomplished at this point. For this term (they do not use the word semester here) I am responsible for going to three lectures a week, so I go to one on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings along with meeting with my tutor once a week. Now, you may be thinking, um Rory, what do you do with all the rest of your time there???? Well, though I are not required to be in “in class” very long, the amount of reading and time I need to devote to writing a good essay requires that I be in the library, my room, or some other place so I can read and study. I shall skip all the boring stuff about studying in the library and in stead tell you what a tutorial at Oxford University is like!

Yesterday I met with both of my tutors. Interestingly enough, one meeting was nothing like the other! I am taking two classes. My primary class requires that I write an essay, 1800-2000 words in length, every week and meet with my tutor for an hour. Memory and Cognition is my primary class and is taught by Dr. Elizabeth Styles, who wrote the book “Attention, Memory, and Perception.” I think it is totally amazing that my tutor is a famous author and that her family has been attending and teaching at Oxford for over 100 years!!! My secondary tutorial, the Psychology of Religion, requires that I meet with the tutor every other week and write an essay around 1500 words. My tutor for that class is Anne Lee.

So, I of course had expectations and initial thoughts about how a tutorial session would be conducted plus I had heard stories from other students. Well, let’s just say that they aren’t as bad as everyone made them out to be but tutorials, because they are usually one on one, I do not suggest going to one without being thoroughly prepared. It’s not like a classroom full of students where if the professor asks a question you just don’t raise your hand, in a tutorial the only person he or she is talking to is you. Tutorials are a lot of fun though. My tutorial with Dr. Styles was in college (on campus) and I met her in a lecture room (which is a room in one of the staircases that had a table and about 12 chairs or so). For this tutorial she required that I read my paper aloud. I did not know this beforehand that I would have to read it, but I am told that most tutors teach that way. My tutor interrupted me throughout my paper to make comments and so that we could discuss certain points that I had made. I left the session with my next week’s assignment and unless I have any other questions (which I would email) I will not see her until next Thursday.

Anne Lee, on the other hand, prefers to read the paper herself aloud to me and then makes comments as she goes along. Since it was the first meeting she wanted to get to know me so we talked about where I was from, what I majored in etc (interesting fact, the class the Psychology of Religion is not offered to psychology Oxford students but only to theology students and visiting students – I am So glad that I get to take it because it is already really interesting!) I also had to go to her house and we had our tutorial there. That was kind of fun because I hadn’t been inside a real British home yet since coming and I got to see what one looks like. She had a kitchen and living room type area on the main floor, then down a few steps lead into a small room full of books and her desk where we had the tutorial. She also had couple of cats that liked to be present during the tutorial.

I think that I am really going to love school here. I definitely have so far. The independent work is really great. It requires a lot of discipline because I only HAVE to be a few places a week and the rest of the time I am responsible for making sure I organize my time well between studying, eating, volunteer/organization activities etc. The tutorials offer one-on-one instruction where I get to ask questions about the topic and also argue my stance on the essay I wrote. It’s a lot of work, but after the first week I definitely feel as if I have learned and accomplished something. Two essays down, ten more to go!

Another thing that I got to do since being here is sample the “fresher’s fair” which is basically what McKendree calls an involvement fair. There were hundreds of booths with organizations ranging from football (soccer) and rugby to the ballroom dancing society to archery and fencing to racecar driving, a walking club, and different volunteer opportunities. Basically, if you have an interest in ANY area there was a club/organization for you. I so far have taken one archer lesson and I am going to play ultimate Frisbee!!!!!

Life here is exciting and there is always something going on and a place to get involved. A good way to balance between college and social life is to study all day and then be sure to get involved in something and go out at night! Most students do it that way here and it definitely seems to be the best system.

What I have learned:

#3: You have to have a valid ID that shows your birth date in order to buy utensils.

#4: Ming is what they sometimes call dinner

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ~ Henry Miller

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First Post from England

London

My first call from the famous British Red Phone booth!

ENGLAND!!! I have officially begun my study abroad journey since landing in London 29hrs ago. The jetlag was not as bad as I had anticipated and the city hasn’t produced too much of a culture shock. In fact, when I walk down the street at any given point you can hear a person speaking some other language besides English. The city is quit diverse. What I found to be funny was that just around the corner there is a McDonalds and a Starbucks. Then, there is a pub on the corner across from my hotel. Pubs are more like social gathering places rather than bars and by nightfall they are bustling with people.
Today was an excursion opportunity after orientation. Unfortunately the rain and the lateness of the hour prohibited a complete tour of the main highlights of the city but it was fun and a good learning opportunity to ride the tube through the city and visit a few major sites such as Big Ben and the Tower of London. Interestingly enough, night time seems to be the time when Londoners decide to exercise. On the walk back I saw over half a dozen people out running for exercise.
It would be foolish to think that since I am living in a country that speaks basically the same language as I do that I am not going to encounter cultural differences. That is far from the truth. As I have recently been told, “America and Britain are two countries separated by a common language.” Already I have seen a number of differences between the American culture and the British. For the fun of it I shall try and share in every blog entry at least a few new things that I have learned. For instance, the very first reality was that (#1): internet is rarely free and not reliable. McDonalds has been my connection to the web. Today as been my 2nd connection since arrival. #2: people on the tube do not, I repeat, DO NOT like to be looked at directly. They get scared and anxious looking. In fact, they prefer (especially the adults) to appear busy reading a newspaper, on the phone, or fascinated by the floor of the train (haha).
One more day in London and then I’m off to Oxford!

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. ~Seneca

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Countdown begins!

Just NINE days! That is all that is left standing between me and my semester abroad! I have already begun the packing process, making lists so that I am sure not to forget anything. Applying and preparing to study abroad has been one of the most interesting experiences of my life. It has allowed me to get to know myself and see how I react to the idea of living and studying for a semester in a different country. I remember when I first applied and how much time I spent going over my personal essay, how I waited for the phone call to see if I would get to study at Oxford, and then how ecstatic I was when Butler told me I had been accepted! Now I am only a short time away from the day that I actually get to leave. My travel day will take me out of the St. Louis are to Newark Int. airport and then from there to London! I am about to embark on an adventure I am quite sure will forever change my life. I am excited, nervous, and thrilled at all of the new things I will encounter, the ways that I will change, and all of the people I will meet. Studying abroad really is an opportunity to step out and do something positively life changing… NINE DAYS!!!!!

*My next post I shall be writing to you from England! :)

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu

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