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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Vocabulary List

For Americans in England
(If you’re English, and find something incorrect or offensive, let me know so I can fix it)

Blimey: An interjection, along the lines of “Really?”, or “Wow”. “Did you see that? Blimey.”

Brill: Slang for “brilliant”, the preferred adjective, used in place of “cool” or “awesome”. “It was brill to see you last night”.

Chevron: Triangles painted on major roads to mark distance between cars. “Keep two chevron’s apart”. (This one took me a while to figure out)

Chips: French fries. As in "Fish and Chips"- but you already knew that.

Crisps: Chips. "I bought a packet of crisps yesterday". (thanks Andrew)

Give Way: Yield. Used on signs and in traveling. “I always give way to bikers.”

Go Pear-shaped: Fall apart, often said of a situation. “I need to take care of this problem before everything goes pear-shaped”.

Jumper: Sweater, as in “I was just going to wear jeans and a jumper”.

Lecture: Class. “I have a lecture at 10:00”.

Posh: A combination of classy and snobby. Same as we use it, but used more often.

Public School: Private School. “He went to a really posh public school.”

Pudding: Any type a desert, occasionally used for a particular dish like bread and butter pudding. “I made some pudding for after dinner”.

Reading: Studying. "'What are you reading?' 'Philosophy.'"

Sixth Form: equivalent to High School. “After Sixth Form, I’m going to Uni.”

State School: Public School.

Tutor: Professor. “She’s a great tutor.”

Tutorial: Meeting with your tutor.

Uni: Slang for University.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gray Skies and Sunny Days

The wind lifts me up.
I evaporate like the water
And join the clouds.
Join their shifting dance.

The sky grows dark.
I stretch out thin and gray,
Covering the sun,
Belly full of water.

The more time I spend in the City of Dreaming Spires, the more I think it is not the spires that dream, but the clouds that hang over them. Silent, watchful, and broody, the dark gray sky seems to stick to the lighter gray spires that stretch up to meet it. It is not just one monstrous gray cloud covering all of Oxford, but layers, each one a different shade, from smoky white, to nearly black.

The clouds here are often indecisive, and do not always bring rain. Content, they come and rest over the town, embracing it in their soft gray folds. On such days, you can see the layers of clouds racing each other across the sky, the lower, lighter colored clouds skimming along below their darker companions. Look too long, and the illusion begins that you are moving, while the sky above remains stationary. It is almost as if one were to suddenly become aware of the fact that the world is constantly spinning and moving beneath us, not standing still.

Other days, it rains. Like the clouds, the rain also comes in different flavors, from a cold mist, to hard, nearly horizontal showers. A perpetual dampness hangs over the city, even when the rain is gone, held there by the clouds, and helped by the chilly wind.

But on some few, magical days, the clouds break up. They never really leave, mind you, but every now and then they contract into white strands, as if, instead of popcorn, a child had strung together cotton balls to decorate the Christmas tree. On these days, the sun shoots through the opening, as if trying to declare his presence to all those on the ground. And through the gaps in the clouds, one can see brilliant blue skies.
I empty my tears upon the earth.
The dry soil soaks up my moisture.
My body contracts,
A white flock of sheep once again grazes in their blue field.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A Photo for Philosophical Pondering

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In Which it Not Only Rains, But Pours

and I visit the C.S. Lewis Society, go for a run, and shop at the open market

Last night I joined a couple of people from OOSC for dinner/drinks at the Eagle and Child. Locally, its known as the Bird and the Baby, and is where C.S Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the other “Inklings” use to meet. Appropriately, after dinner, we went to a meeting of the C.S. Lewis Society, a club through Oxford University that brings in people from all over to give talks on Lewis’ works. I enjoyed it a lot, and think I might join the group. But perhaps even more interesting, was what I had to walk through to get to the pub:
Jessica, I think you gave me the best Christmas present ever. Without rain boots, I would be stranded out in Marston. Of course, that didn’t stop me from taking the run I had scheduled myself for this morning. Chris, even you would have to say my run was truly hard-core. I was in freezing water up to my mid-calf for parts of it, and at one point stepped into a hole that was almost up to my knees. All the same, I enjoyed the run a lot, not the least because it was the first time I ever really got to talk to some of my neighbors. I think they were slightly amused at the crazy American running down a flooded trail (yes Mom, I stuffed my shoes with newspaper afterwards).
After my run, I went into town to shop at the open market that’s set up every Wednesday. I got a ridiculous amount of fruits and vegetables for really cheap (including two eggplants- guess who is cooking dinner tomorrow?). I also got this:
And before anyone says anything, consider the fact that it’s me, and imagine the self-restraint I had to exercise to not buy a fish. There are four cacti in the pot, if any wants to suggest names.

I also had my first Greek tutorial, and it went very well.

P.S. Perhaps fearing that it might suffer the fate of my first umbrella, which was blown apart, my second one tried to escape last night. Fortunately, I was able to catch it, but not before taking this picture:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

(Almost) Into the Woods

Some pictures of the park near our flat in Marston

The bike path we take into the City Center. Its usually not under water, but the river flooded yesterday.

Tunnel at the park gate. Looks rather ominous, doesn't it?
The evil wizard who once ruled the woods. He was turned into a tree by the fairies, who live in
the pink and purple fairy forest.
There are many benches in the park, and I happened to read the dedication on this one by chance. I would have taken a picture of the two trees, but someone had spray painted them. One of the benches was dedicated to a man "who ran here".
The river, where the Naiads live.
The path where I'm going to run tomorrow. I suspect the Dryads live down there.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Parallel Universe, or How England is Different from America

(Thanks to Will for the title)


There is something disconcerting about stepping out of a plane in another country and finding all the signs are written in…English. At least for me. The odd thing though, is that while I understand perfectly what the signs mean, they’re never worded how I would expect. Examples: Yield signs that say “Give Way”, and my favorite, an “in case of fire” sign that advises the reader to “if possible, attack the fire with any available appliance”. Hmmm, like a toaster oven?

The spoken word is different here too, and not just the accent. Many words are not pronounced the way they seem like they should be (kinda like French). The rhythm of speech is also must faster, and more disconnected, playing staccato to the legato of a southern drawl.


I recently had the adventure of riding a bicycle through Oxford, and found it extremely disconcerting to be on the wrong (as opposed to the right) side of the road. During this adventure, some interesting discoveries were made, namely that English bikes are backward from American ones. The back brake is controlled by the left hand, as are the main gears. It was much easier to ride after I found this out, since my bike was initially in first gear.

Et cetera…

It seems like there are many other differences too, but I can’t think of them at the moment.

Oh, and for those wondering, they do have peanut butter here.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Long Post is (Possibly) Better than None


The plane rides both went well. On the first leg of my journey, I agreed to trade seats so a lady could sit next to her husband, and the flight attendant gave me a food voucher, so my dinner in Detroit airport was free! I have to say, Detroit might possibly have the coolest airport ever, if only because it has a monorail inside to take you to your gate.

sunrise outside plane window

After landing in London, I was getting onto the bus to take me to Oxford, when I heard a person next to me ask “Emma?” I turned around and saw guy who looked somewhat familiar and asked “Dane?” Sure enough, my future housemate had recognized me from my Facebook picture, so we rode the bus together and got to know each other a little. Which brings me to….

Dane and Will are great. I’m the youngest in the house by one day, but I’ll get over it. Our first night together Dane took Will and me to Turf Pub for dinner, which was fun. It was exciting to visit my first English pub within a few hours of my arrival. The second night we all made spaghetti and spent a while just talking, figuring out shopping etc., and just getting to know one another (btw, Jessica, Oxford has a recycling program, and we will be using it).

Some pics of the house:

(slightly messy) Living Roomvery small Kitchen (with no microwave. Also home to the washing machine with no dryer)My room- it came with the bear!

More of my room


I met my tutors today, and I’m really excited about my classes. In Greek I’ll be translating Plato’s Symposium to start with, and then some Homer later in the term. I admit I was a little apprehensive about my Formal Logic class, but I think it will actually be pretty cool. My tutor for it majored in Classical Philosophy as well as Logic.


I have no pictures of London, but I saw Much Ado About Nothing preformed at the National Theatre, and as loyal as I am to the Orlando Shakespeare Festival, I have to say the production was absolutely incredible. I laughed so hard I cried.

Most Colorful English Phrase Heard

Heard in a lecture: “Frankly, she was pissed as a newt”.

And so,…to bed.