Oxford + ALL the parks

What comes to mind when you picture the scenery of “Pride and Prejudice”? Softly swaying weeping willow trees bending over a peaceful pond? With swans? How about luscious green grass running into the horizon with ancient beige buildings hugging its edges? This image could probably be from a Jane Austen novel or a bevy of other Victorian classics. Instead, I’m describing Oxford.

Even in the middle of March, Michelle’s study abroad college shone with magic that could easily inspire a novel such as PP. I’m telling you, it was amazing.

I saw about half the green when I visited. But yes, people live a minute’s walk from this paradise! (From Quaint Living blog, link in picture)

Here’s a good photographer who succeeded in documenting its beauty. My pictures can’t measure up but I’ll offer them nonetheless:

DSC01727 DSC01729 DSC01728

It was a special kind of relaxing/fun to walk around the campus and town with Michelle, a good Wes pal. In addition to its health benefits, walking is also a great way to get creative thoughts flowing and stimulates great conversation. Less pressure to focus on faces and interpret body language (not a strong point for me.) Just gaze at nature and converse to a delightful friend. Glorious.

(On a tangent, I realized I’ll have taken four three-hour-long walks with five people in six days by Monday! I’m seeing a trend in how I like to spend time and initiate intriguing conversation…) And on the seventh day she rested. lol jk she wrote all of her essays and wished she were outside. Essays here sneak up so quickly!!

The second walk was around Regents Park, an impressively large park with beautiful scenery. That was with a friend I met on the Venice trip. Today, I went on a long walk in search of deer at Richmond Park (to our dismay, it was rainy, so no deer appeared) with the friend I met at the Staves concert. Tomorrow, I’ll be with Matthew and his friend touring London! By the time I return to the states, I’ll be fit enough to walk back to the UK! (wait, what?)


Some Richmond Park and market pics:

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Venezia!

veniceThis 26-hour trip was organized by the fantastic QM Travel Society, a small group of third-years with lovely personalities. They were so welcoming and funny, a perfect combination for our “mothers and fathers” who led us around all day. Not to mention good-looking! I was so impressed by how BEAUTIFUL the group was, overall! Not just outwardly, but also (yes, brace yourself for the cliche) inwardly 🙂

yup, I went there.

But for real, these kids were a treasure chest of loveliness. I was so glad that they were my companions for the day. The lack of sleep and magic of the trip allowed us to all talk to one another freely, connecting in ways that I usually feel after multiple hang-outs or a semester of club meetings.

A challenge of Venice was the unfortunate lack of respect from others who slowed down the group by taking triple the time allotted for lunch and getting lost without good cell service. Maybe that’s why my opinion of Venice isn’t shiny and happy; I didn’t get to see too much, the usual structure of my trips. Yes, I love talking with people, but when I’m in Venice, I’m there to SEE it, not hang around tacky souvenir stands while waiting for all 30 of us to finish whatever and move on.

So yeah, Venice didn’t blow my mind. Having recently departed from Amsterdam, perhaps I was still used to the widespread waterways that mystified everyone else. Didn’t get to check out some of the major sites either, only getting to the Rialto bridge (not that great), pizza and gelato (the latter severely disappointing), and a gondola ride (WORTH IT!) We did a lot of walking, which was great, but the group was slow and complained a lot towards the end.

A schedule of the trip:

Midnight-2 am: “Social”

2-6:30: Transport to and in the airport

6:30-8:30ish: Flight to Trevisio

8:30-11ish: Getting to Venice

11ish-7: In Venice

7-8: Bus to airport

8-midnight: Waiting for and being on flight back

midnight to 1:15ish: Waiting at immigration

1:15ish-2: Bus back to campus

Yes, it was QUITE the long day!

And now, the moment you’ve been awaiting: Photos!

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And because you can’t see it too well in the slideshow, this artwork gets extra attention because it’s just AWESOME

LOVE THIS SIGN

LOVE THIS SIGN!

Figuring myself out

So I planned to have other posts done by today but that didn’t happen, so sorry if you were confused by the change in scheduling. Gosh, I sound like an administrative bureaucrat… sorry!

A roundup of odds and ends and personal revelations (not too personal, don’t worry. But on that note if you’re interested in mainly my travel logs, this post may not apply to you very much. See what you think):

Eggs in Britain are very different than in the states. For lunch a few days ago, I fried two and the yolks were neon orange. Yes, neon! And they were much, much tastier than their American counterparts.

Sophie-cles moments:

sophiecles

I’m becoming increasingly reluctant to spew words for the sake of limiting silence. Similarly, I’d rather stand alone while waiting for class than engage in some shallow, worthless conversation about deadlines. When you get me rolling on a juicy topic of course I’ll unlock my verbal gates, but if we’re riding on a bus and it’s been a long day and my mind is blank, I may not speak much. Some perceive this as me having a conversation with myself, and they are often right. Call it whatever you like: internal dialogue, zoning out, daydreaming… happens a lot in my head. If something like this happens when I’m around you, you should probably take it as a compliment that I feel comfortable enough to sit with silence because I don’t feel pressure to forcibly make memories. In sum, I side with Gandhi when he stated, “Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”

I’ve noticed that I’m also reluctant to engage in high-intensity conversations that require deep knowledge of a subject and the sufficient arrogance/stick-your-neck-outedness to defend your views. Happens a lot when males talk about sports, for instance. I’d rather refrain and know myself than be provoked to convince others of my views.


Thoughts inspired by today’s Geographies of Nature class on Technonatures:

Let me start by stating that throughout the past 50 hours, I’ve gotten 9 hours of sleep (the Venice trip started at 1 am Wed morning and I got back this morning at 2 am.) This morning, I zombiely (new word, heads up Merriam-Webster) drank a latte and trudged to the aforementioned class. You’d probably think this story goes on and on in a tired tone but this is where is miraculously breaks that trend: today’s class was so inspiring (as most are) that I’m motivated enough to skip a nap and BLOG instead. That’s true inspiration, people! Also a warning that my grammar may be affected by lack of sleep/coherence.

So yesterday on the Venice trip, I met a chemistry major who spiritedly talked and joked with me about loving biology and chemistry and reading science textbooks to fall asleep (not because they are boring but because they are interesting enough to read during free time. I don’t identify as much with that as he did but do to an extent.) In the middle of a post-security checkpoint corridor leading to the food court at 5:20 am, I felt energized and extremely receptive to passionate philosophical thought. That shocked me. And then today in class, when we discussed OncoMouse, a strain of mice highly probable to get cancer so we can experiment on it, and the basis of fear in governing our scientific experimentation boundaries, I felt like flying. (My latte could’ve also affected this.) But what I mean to conclude with is that I’ve realized that there’s hardly anything that makes me as happy as being provided with infinitely pithy discussion topics. That’s not the entire package, but there you have it: a way to my heart. Publicized and analyzed online. Good golly. I’m keeping it though. Why not express what lights you up?