Sunday, October 5, 2008

London in A Week's Time

I just got in from lunch at Harrods with my mum.  She has been in England for the past week and we've had a blast.  Last weekend we went to the Cotswolds for some adventuring.  We went to Morten-on-Marsh and Stowe-in-the-Wold.  We took a long walk out to a country pub and had a relaxing day away from Oxford.  She got a whirlwind tour of my town and really enjoyed it.  

I still can't get over the coats and boots here, all the rage.  We stayed next to the London Eye (in fact with a view of it right out our window)  We enjoyed many a stroll down the River Walk with incredible views of Parliament and Big Ben.  It's a first visit to London for both of us, so we made sure to take in all of the sights.  

 Exploring London
 We saw Trafalgar square and the National Gallery.  We got to see "Sunflowers" by Van Gogh. We took a backstage tour of the BBC and rode the Big Red Bus to take in all of the sights.  We saw St. Paul's Cathedral, and the Tower of London.  We made it to the Tate Modern.  At the Tate I realized how much I miss painting.  I spent most of my evenings this summer painting .... modern art!  More like canvasses and collages but I can't wait to paint again.  Today we went to the British Museum and I was stoked about seeing the Rosetta Stone.  I'm reading A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich and I have just finished the chapter on the history of language so the timing was perfect.  

Turkish:  We had turkish food twice.  Once at Tas and once at Troia, both incredible experiences.  I had better Turkish food in England than I had in Turkey (where we ate a massive tourist trap buffets everyday)  
French:  We went to an incredible french wine bar and shared the fromage platter.  Anyone who knows me knows how much I love cheese!  
Indian:  Always great in London, I got a 14 item sampler at an Indian restaurant for 7 pounds which is a bargain here.  

Of course we enjoyed pub grub fish and chips, mushy peas, meat pies... but after a month of it I was really excited and thankful for some spice, zest, and ethnic flare.  

Avenue Q

(I will add more later, I'm about to run out of internet time!)

I will post more soon and add a little more about Oxford!  I'm headed to Paris for a week!  

Thursday, September 11, 2008


11. September. 2001

On this day seven years ago, I walked into my math class at Pine Creek High School for first period.  The seemingly normal day began with a warm up problem and the same guy wandering in, tardy as usual.  Except he walked in and told the teacher he thought we should turn on the news.  This seemed an absurd suggestion until he said a plane had accidentally flown into a building in New York City.  Mrs. Velasquez turned on the television and we watched in silence as the second tower was hit. I remember the news anchors with their hands covering their mouths, at a total loss for words.  It was at this moment it became clear that this was far from accidental.  

September 11th made me feel vulnerable and small.  How quickly an event can change everything.  I remember the tears, the conversations with my friends and family that followed.  Because Colorado Springs is home to the United States Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, and NORAD, we were considered a likely target should another attack occur.  School was cancelled for a week and a half.  

The BBC is on in Cambibos (my favorite coffee shop in Oxford).  The families of victims are reading the names of their loved ones from a list that is 2,175 people too long.  Realizing that today is September 11th I got the choked up feeling, my heart decided it would relocate to my throat for a moment or two.  

I am thankful everyday that I was born in the United States.  I am grateful (more so now than ever before) that I can vote in the upcoming election.  Thankful for the First Amendment that lets me choose what to believe, and how to believe it.  For my freedom, opportunities, and rights.  Days like this are a great reminder of just how lucky we are.  A great time to tell those whom we love exactly that.  A reminder of all that can be accomplished with love and the notion that nothing is more patriotic than peace.  

Praying for Peace Among Nations and Peace Between Peoples,

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Pronunciations and Words  add another syllable and this word automatically sounds ten times cooler

la.bor.a.tory:  another delightful new way to say a word

Charlie: ok, it's youtube's fault that I'm obsessed with little British boys named Charlie

Gloucester:  Nope, not Glou-chester like you phonetically read this it's 'glaster' and you have to say it really quickly.  The bus stop is called Gloucester Green, so I quickly learned the error of my ways.  

Mum: it just sounds so much better that mOm.  And I just want to be able to call my mom a mummy.  

Cheers:  it's like thanks, bye, have a good day, see you later!  all in one. 

Baby Bubbles
ok, so it rains everyday.  I packed my umbrella basically as an after thought.  There are some people here though who really have it nice when it rains-babies!  the lucky little boogers have these incredible baby strollers built for serious off-roading adventures AND they have a snapable "bubble" of plastic that covers their strollers.  It's like little space babies and every time it rains I wish that I had by own little bubble of rain free joy.  Do they have these in places like Seattle?  If not, I see an investment opportunity someone needs to capitalize on.  

Thank you Harry Potter dining hall for delighting my pallet on a nightly occasion.  
Figs and Prosciutto
Avocado and Parmesan
Smoked Salmon on Potato Cake

The Radcliffe Camera (pictured above)
This is my favorite library, or I guess my favorite (favourite) part of the 'Bod.' This is where I usually read and write my papers.  They check your bag when you enter and when you leave to make sure you aren't making off with Tolkien's original drawings of the Hobbit.  

The Indian Food
The Indian Garden is also pictured above.  I really enjoy the mirror Taj Mahal. England is the place to come for curry.  Just make sure you don't order the 'ass scorcher.'  

Saturday, September 6, 2008

For 10 Pounds you Can Have the Whole Jolly Lot!

It has been a fabulous ten days in Oxford so far! I have been doing so much reading for my classes.  We moved into our rooms at the Jowett Walk Annex.  The rooms are nice singles each with their own bathroom.  

Oxford is magical.  I don't think I have ever seen such green grass everywhere, and it's natural.  Probably because it rains all the time.  I have started carrying my umbrella with me everywhere because the clouds just come flying in and it pours.  I had my first tutorial on Thursday with Dr. Butt (he asked us to call him Dan).  My tutorial is on Rectifying International Injustice.  The topic is quite hefty, but we got into some really interesting discussion.  

British people really struggle with the pronunciation of my name.  The first day of my tutorial my professor kept saying "KUHHH-sten" shouting the first part, it's absolutely hilarious.  He said nobody in England has a name like mine and the way he remembers how to pronounce it is curtain.  So that is my new nickname.  

Oxford as a University is made up of 38 individual colleges.  Each college has its very own separate identity.  Balliol's colors are red and blue with two tailed lion on the crest.  We eat "in college" for breakfast and dinner everyday.  The dining hall looks exactly like the great hall in Harry Potter.  J.K. Rowling based Hogworts on Oxford.  12 of us sit at a long table surrounded by life-size portraits of each Headmaster the college has had.  We look funny surrounded by the long tables and the 25 ft. organ. 

The colleges are not open to visitors, which is really cool.  We get to walk up to the gigantic wooden door of Balliol and ring for the porter.  A little door opens inside of the gigantic door and we climb through.  The buildings are covered with vines and ivy and secret gardens.  I've been looking for a secret passageway!  Each college has its own library full of books pertinent to the main subjects of focus at that specific college.   From the street you would never be able to grasp how large each college is, the only thing you can see is the stone wall and the big wooden door.  I'll write a post sometime this week about the Swearing In ceremony we had at the Bodlein Library.  We were sworn in as 'readers' and had to recite an official pledge, to the head of enrollment who was wearing her full robes.  I feel like the only thing missing is my magic wand!


Friday, July 18, 2008

A New way of Seeing Things

I am preparing for my second semester away from CLU. This fall I'm bound for Balliol College at Oxford University. I hope to blog my thoughts and experiences as I study where so many of the world's best and brightest have changed the course of history. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Steven Hawking, and Richard Dawkins are but a few on the laundry list of Oxford scholars which also includes the only American President to study at Oxford, Bill Clinton.

At present I am an interesting mix of emotion. My excitement is constantly dueling with my nerves, and Dr. Brint's e-mails about the expectations and academic rigor of our program have me pretty freaked out. (Apparently we will be reading 2000 pages a week) I can't honestly say I accomplish that in a month. Luckily, I will have this blog, an effective procrastination tool. I hope to write candidly about the people, places, and ideas encountered at Oxford and subsequently on my nomadic adventures through Europe.