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Means More Rocking of socks

So last week I sent a note to 93.3 WMMR's afternoon DJ Pierre Robert requesting that he play a Dire Straits song for the directors of I Hate Hamlet (easily the most fun show I've been in so far).  He not only played a song and read my letter on the air, he added the theatre's address and found the names of the other cast members and mentioned them, too.

This is the continuation of a beautiful relationship that began when he thought I was Rebecca Black that one time.
www.youtube.com/watch

London Calling! (Sorry...couldn't resist!)

Yesterday marked a lot of firsts for me!  It was my first time in London (sad, I know, after being in this country for three weeks).  It was also my first time seeing a Shakespeare play, and my first time at the Globe!
We arrived around 10:30 and went on a bus tour all around town.  Unfortunately, we didn't actually have time to get off at any of the stops because we had to be at the Globe for King Lear!  It was phenomenal seeing it acted out.  I got to touch the stage itself (yes, I had Jody take a picture!).  I didn't like how the actor portrayed Edgar at the beginning; he seemed much more jittery than I'd imagined. 
I got to see, though not go inside, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral (I totally plan on going up that tower at least once), London Bridge, Hyde Park, the Tower of London, and of course Big Ben! 
Tomorrow morning Corinne, Carly, Jody, and I are going back into town to see the places we missed, including Abbey Road!  I can't wait!  Until then, schoolwork (Much Ado About Nothing and The Taming of the Shrew) so that I can actually enjoy this last week!

Monday: 2 PM lecture and Much Ado About Nothing (Oxford performance)
Tuesday: 2 PM lecture and possibly going into London to see a show, if we don't have time to tomorrow
Wednesday: 2 PM lecture and LAST TUTORIAL!
Thursday: 2 PM lecture and Taming of the Shrew (performance in Stratford-upon-Avon by the Royal Shakespeare Company)
Friday: Bonjour, Paris!
For those who were wondering, I did finish my paper.  The tutorial didn't go so well, but it wasn't too painful.  Oh well!

Otherwise, I've been enjoying myself immensely.  Last week was filled with getting to know more people; I became friends with Jody and Corinne, who invited me to go to Poland with them last weekend.  Then, trouble ensued.
At dinner on Friday night, just after I had attempted to buy plane tickets (payment was pending), someone stole my credit card and fled to London.  Weirdest part?  They charged up their dinner on it IN THE SAME RESTAURANT.  They might have even been watching me.  Freaky!
Of course I flipped out, called Mom in tears both before and after retracing my steps and ransacking both my room and the restaurant.  She called and canceled the card, and luckily it all worked out.
Except then the payment didn't go through on the plane tickets, and by that point I was so exhausted and shell-shocked that I just stayed home.  I did get to climb two medieval towers (which have absolutely amazing views, and yes, I took tons of pictures) and get to know Kevin and Joe.  It was absolutely gorgeous this weekend.

Saturday we went to Glastonbury and Wells.  Glastonbury refers to the ruins of this ancient abbey; it was truly surreal being there, especially when I was thanking God that everything worked out.  I decided to take a picture from inside the chapel ruins and a dove flew right into the shot.  
Wells is an amazing cathedral just 6 miles down the road.  The west end of it is covered in about 300 medieval statues of saints, all in hierarchical order under the Stations of the Cross, the saints, the apostles, and Jesus over all.

I also spent time e-mailing family members who heard I was homesick two weeks ago (wow, already?) and thought to drop me a line.  I was sad for a portion of the weekend (what with not being in Poland), but I'm glad I got to explore Oxford some more.  I still need to see Christ Church.

Last night was spent writing my paper and hanging out with Jody; she had her first Pimm's at Jude the Obscure!  We managed to get these cushy seats and just talked about life, Twilight, Harry Potter, religion, and home.  It was much better than going to a club, where everyone's all over each other -- ew.

Now, I should prepare more for my tutorial this afternoon on King Lear.  I'm looking forward to discussing the presence of justice in the structure itself.

Tomorrow, we visit the Bodelian Library to view the First Folio (yes, THE First Folio!) and on Friday we see King Lear at the Globe (yes, THE Globe!). 

Culture shock/OMG!

I figured y'all would want to hear about the day-to-day in England.  First off, it rains a lot.  I know, we've heard it all before, right?  Today it was absolutely pouring from before I woke up at 8:30 AM until around 4 PM.  I'm very glad we bought rainboots and that I remembered my umbrella; DeSales is NOTHING compared to this!

Also, sunset is much later.  It's 9:19 PM and the sun is only setting now; the sky is still a glorious pink and purple.  Last night around 10:30 PM I looked out my window and the sky was still a royal blue, not pitch black like I would have expected.  The thought of such radically different hours of sunlight never crossed my mind.

The biggest shock has been feeding myself.  As much as I knock the DeSales meal plan, it did guarantee me hot meals and snacks throughout the day, and the distance wasn't so bad.  I live about 20-25 minutes from my campus at New College, so it's nowhere near as convenient.  I've been preparing most of my own breakfasts (aka cereal and milk, when it's not sour).

But the biggest factor is living in a bustling city with people I barely know.  yes, I can drink; yes, I have; no, I don't want to go out alone... being completely independent and, therefore, on my own definitely factored into the homesickness.

BIG NEWS!!!:
Julie is coming to Oxford!  I promise, I didn't guilt her into coming; she had already planned a trip for the third week of June, so we'll be in the same city for a few days (hopefully, depending on how my travel plans work out, since it sounds like she'll be here after my program ends but before I return to the good ol' US of A).  She's coming here to sightsee...maybe we can hit up the Dining Hall in Christ Church!

I just hope I can see all the places I want to before going home.  I plan on visiting London, Paris, and Liverpool, equipped with camera and tour bus tickets; I'm not ashamed to be a tourist!

I have about  4 pages of my paper done; my minimum is 5 (though preferably 6) and it's not due until 6 PM tomorrow, so I'm well ahead of schedule.  O, happy fortune!

Because I'm a wimp!

Thanks to tons of stress and schoolwork and homesickness, I haven't updated much (sorry!) but here are the highlights from the past week:
Monday was spent reading obsessively.  it was a bank holiday (aka fake Memorial Day; offices close and people travel everywhere), so I got to sleep in, yay!   Tuesday was our first lecture, taught by Dr. Robin Bott from Adrian College here in the States.  She's sucha  great teacher; she's very charismatic and draws you into the material.  It was about the basics of Shakespeare, like his life and influences, etc.
On Wednesday we went to Windsor Castle -- yep, THE Windsor Castle!  I'm a princess, did you know that?  We toured the grounds, starting with St. George's Chapel.  It looks like a cathedral, and has the bodies of many dead monarchs (such as Henry the 8th, the one with six wives) buried therein.  Then we saw Queen Mary's Doll's House, which is a miniature version of the castle, basically.  I want one!

Then came the moment we were all waiting for, when we got to go inside the castle itself.  I can't even convey how amazing it was to walk up the grand staircase and see the huge opulent rooms with paintings, knight's crests, and even weaponry!  I even got to see the room where, on special occasions, they have dinner for 160 people at one long table!

Thursday was another lecture, to which I was late, and it was pretty much a bust, anyway.  No worries, I got my paper done in time for Friday!  My tutor said that it was very well written; in fact, when discussing A Midsummer Night's Dream, I brought up a point about Puck and Oberon usurping power from Cupid that he hadn't considered previously.  Of course, he also asked me if I believed in fairies, to which I replied,

"Uh...what?"
"Do you believe in fairies?"
"...No..."
"Well, you have to in this play."
"Yes, in the context of the play, but not in real life..."

How does one respond to a question like that?!

Either way, it went well overall.  Pat, Julius, and I as well as some other girls from Marymount all went to a club after dinner, where I got carded (really!). 

Saturday I was homesick; I couldn't concentrate on Richard III at all, and I was frustrated and lonely, so I called Mom and Kate.  Mom suggested I take a break, so after reading a little more, Pat and I went to the Red Lion Inn and relaxed.  It did help!

Yesterday we went to the Tridentine Mass at St. Aloysius, which was one of the most disorienting experiences of my life (including orientation, Nina!).  It was very awkward with the priest praying silently for the majority of it, and I could barely keep up even with my guide booklet.  At least I'm getting better at working the altar rail!

After Mass we went to Stonehenge and Bath.  Stonehenge is an ancient pile of rocks.  They're heavy.  Oh WOW, big whoop!  I think it's an attraction that I can see once, say I did it, and then be happy never having to visit again.  I did, however, get to sit on one of the rocks near the entrance (some distance away from Stonehenge itself), so it wasn't a total bust.

Bath is a town that has an ancient Roman public bath that was excavated at some point in the past 2000 years.  It's old and full of water.  No, you can't actually get in because it's dirty.   By the end of the day I was pretty cranky, so the phone call from Mom at Kate's new apartment (yay!!) was more than welcome. 

Today was full of reading (only a few more scenes to go!).  Richard III is tough because there's so much history and backstory to the play that you have to keep pausing to read the footnotes just to keep up with who killed who's brother in the Battle of Tewkesbury, who was married to who, etc.  At least by Wednesday, it will all be over and done with and I can move on to the next play!

Katemonster called today, so we discussed homesickness and moving and plays.  This morning I was quite ready to hop a plane home, but after talking to Kate, getting so much work done and having a delicious and relaxing dinner with Pat, I feel a lot better.  Now, to more reading, since the sooner I get it done, the sooner I can write my paper, and the sooner I can rid myself of this terrible, terrible play!

Dona Nobis Pacem

Last post of the night, I promise! 

This morning, Pat, Ryan, and I went to Mass at St. Aloysius Oratory (not too far from our houses).  We had been expecting a Tridentine (pre-Vatican II) Mass, but that took place earlier in the morning so we attended the Solemn Mass instead.  Basically, it was our own Mass, but in Latin.  Everyone got a book outlining the Order of the Mass with the Latin and English right next to each other, so you knew what was actually being said, and the readings themselves were in English.

Communion was fun because the Church has an altar rail, which I have never ever used before, so I forgot to say "Amen" when the priest said "Corpus Christi."  Oops.  At least I didn't drop the host!

Afterwards, the three of us went to the Eagle and Child again, since it was only a few doors down.  Though we were too late for breakfast, we had lunch in THE BOOTH: yep, I sat where the famous authors sat and dined where they dined!  Of course, since I had only planned on Mass I didn't bring my camera, so I got out my cameraphone to discover a low battery.  No pictures...this time.  Something tells me I'll be going to that pub quite often.

The rest of the afternoon was spent reading.  I finished Romeo and Juliet tonight and started A Midsummer Night's Dream, and yes, they are very similar (w00t!).  Now, if only I can actually write my paper and defend it for an hour without dropping dead, this trip might turn out very well indeed...

I'm all literate and everything!

After another day of orientation (as well as Natemonster's first birthday! <3) and a night in the best club ever, Friday morning saw my induction into the Bodleian Library.  "The Bod" is home to over 11 million books; they receive about 5,000 new ones each week and continually put in miles of shelving.  It is entitled to a copy of every book published in Britain, and to ensure that these books don't disappear it is a non-lending library: even the King couldn't borrow a book after the Civil War (known to us Americans as The War of the Roses).  Inside, we saw the room that served as Oxford's own court (for example, to try a wayward student) as well as the room that served as the infirmary at the end of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. 

That afternoon, Chris, Kevin, and I were inducted into New College, so we got a tour of that library as well (from which we can borrow) and the rest of the campus, which includes part of the city wall, cloisters where the religious used to pray, a gorgeous chapel, a dining hall with informal and formal (read: academic dress) dinners, and of course a pub and common room. 

After the tour I had about 10 minutes to walk the twenty minutes to my tutor's (aka teacher's) house, which is on an island.  I actually would have gotten there on time, except I went to a house instead of an apartment complex so that set me back.  After getting my first assignment (Compare Romeo and Juliet with A Midsummer Night's Dream, due Friday, May 30 at 5:30 PM), I rushed back to my own house (getting lost and ending up...somewhere...) and Pat and his friend Ryan from Marymount and I went to the Eagle and Child.  We didn't sit in "The" booth where Lewis and Tolkien sat, but we did enjoy a lovely meal (bangers and mash = amazing, just so y'all know).  After ice cream, our exhausted selves hung out at their house for awhile.

Yesterday was a low-key day, save for seeing Jonathan Rhys Myers outside my window.  Actually, I'm not sure whether or not it was him, but we'll just say it was because it makes for a better story.  The rest of my weekend has consisted with a close reading of R&J and getting to know my housemates much better. 

So yes, I'll be staying the next four weeks.  Maybe even a trip to Paris for a few days will arise!
Wednesday morning started off very well, with me fainting about half an hour into orientation.  That's right: full on passing out.  Luckily, I fell into the lap of my housemate Chris from NYC, who's an EMT, and Marcus (another Shakespeare student, who is from Michigan) broke out his own EMT skills.  He took my pulse, thought I had low blood sugar, and recommended I see the doctor, which the office had to do anyway.  After waiting another 40 minutes in the waiting room for the only doctor in the office that day, I was told to "eat a large sandwich and drink lots of water" (after, of course, the eating disorder question). 

What was weird was how it came on so quickly; the moment I realized I couldn't see, and I was probably going to pass out, I was down for the count; I didn't even have enough time to go outside or grab a cup of water.

It was quite the icebreaker during the rest of orientation, though.  I did end up eating a large sandwich at a shop across the street from the OSAP office, and it also serves breakfast so I'm set!

After lunch came a walking tour of the city.  I can't wait to see the Dining Hall in Christ Church, where the Grand Hall scenes from Harry Potter were filmed (yes, I will readily admit that I am a huge HP fan and a tourist.  Deal.).  We also learned so much about the history of the city.  Large portions of the original city wall are still very well preserved.

That night my housemates and I went to dinner and then to the Radcliffe (aka Ratty) where we got to witness football fans witness Manchester United vs. Chelsea: my boys on Man U won, just like I knew they would.  Then my drunk housemate started debating with Pat for about 45 minutes, which was both entertaining and slightly painful to watch.  Then came glorious sleep in my way-too-big-for-me bed!

Can I sleep now?

The past 24 hours have been amazing!  We landed in London around 6:30 this morning, and after standing in line for immigration for quite a while with my plane buddy (Anthony from Abington, who is going to Italy for the fourth time) I finally grabbed my baggage (I had to check my bag anyway) and caught the bus to Oxford.  A woman on the bus gave me a wallet-sized map of the city, which came in major handy when I got off the bus.  Ten minutes later, I was at the Study Abroad Office with my arrival packet and house key.  Twenty minutes later, I was in my room:

Top (third) floor
Single
Full bed

I don't know WHAT happened, but I definitely lucked out.

After struggling with the cell, I called Mom and Dad on the payphone nearby.  I think it was about 3 AM their time.  Oops!

My housemates seem pretty cool; I'm with 2 other girls and 3 boys.  They went to lunch today when I had just laid down for a kip (nap), so when I got my shoes on  I decided to explore the city.  Like in Dublin, I ended up getting slightly lost, but I ended up finding my way and discovering The Eagle and Child on St. Giles Street, which Dr. Loughlin recommended, as well as a Catholic Church.

At 5 PM, the office had a reception for us.  By this time I was very hungry and sleep deprived, so I tried to mingle while simultaneously fighting the urge to faint.  At one point a boy asked me where I was from, and when I told him another guy said he had family that went to our very own St. Joe's.  Whoa.  WHOA!  So then we got to talking about various topics (mostly school and Catholicism), and I learned his name is Pat.  We continued talking throughout dinner at a pub across the street (fish and chips +pint of Bulmers=delicious!), when Pat's friend and classmate Julius whom I had remembered meeting this morning joined us again and we had a debate about the nature of love and whether Jesus is a martyr or a suicide victim.

From the plane to my housemates to the reception, I've been making friends pretty easily (except when I was tired, hungry, and cranky).  I guess I've finally started to come out of whatever shell I've been living in, and I know I'm more confident than a few months ago.  Then again, it could just be the massive sleep deprivation lowering my inhibitions and letting me open up to people and be more vulnerable. 

Tomorrow we start orientation, then we have the weekend free.  Pat said that the Church I found has a Latin Mass on Sunday.  Daddy, I'm making you proud!

(Note: "Daddy" is addressed to my biological father, not God; however, if God does express human emotions, I hope I'm making Him proud, too.)

Goodnight, moon!

Counting down...

So, after surviving finals week (B+ in Forgiveness class!...shut up, Nina), I get to scurry around and pack.

5 weeks in Oxford
1 carry on (like hell I'm negotiating Heathrow alone)
several bottles (less than 3 oz) of All Small & Mighty

I'm excited. I'm very very nervous, since so many things can go wrong, and I get lost easily, but I'm also excited because once I'm there, I'm THERE. I'll be at Oxford University studying one of the greatest playwrights of all time, sitting at the tables where those Harry Potter kids sat (coooooool), and expanding my little world.

"Hey Mom, if I have an opportunity to take a random weekend trip to somewhere else in Europe while I'm over there, can I?"
"Yes, do it"

Awesome.

So begins the summer of travel:
Oxford, UK
Poke-a-nose, PA
Fairhaven, MA
Canadia
Williamsburg, VA
Chincoteague Island, VA
Ocean City, MD