Sunday, October 21, 2012


Yesterday I went to London to visit my friend Amy, who is currently studying for her masters with Christie's Education. She does really cool art things and goes to galleries and is, generally speaking, quite fabulous. This weekend is also Homecoming at Rhodes, and I've been feeling a bit homesick. So Amy and I had our own mini Rhodes Homecoming together!

I took the Oxford Tube into the city Saturday, and arrived around midday in Notting Hill. We went for a walk through Kensington Gardens before stopping for lunch at Chipotle. Yes, Chipotle. Those of you  who know me know that I love Chipotle, and have missed it severely since crossing the pond. Especially the Friday night tradition of Chipotle and Muddy's cupcakes (I'm looking at you, Lauren).

So after our delicious lunch, we went to Oxford St to find the Urban Outfitters (I needed to exchange something, go ahead and make your hipster jokes). We got a bit lost, totally my fault, but finally made it. And some pretty great pictures resulted:

Give peace a 'stache 

Amy's glitter thug mustache.
We then walked around, just exploring London. We found the BBC building, admired the fancy houses beyond our means, and talked about living abroad and going to graduate school. There was a protest going on, so we watched that unfold for a bit. Some of the protestors crowded this older couple in their Mercedes convertible and were yelling at them until the police intervened. I've seen enough of the Occupy movement that I was a bit nervous when the police showed up, but they just told the protestors to move on and on they went. Easily resolved, no tear gas necessary (take notes, folks). While we were walking around Amy showed me some of the really cool tagging in London, and I saw my first ever Banksy! We stopped for coffee and a respite, and saw a Jack Daniels taxi cab pass. Ironic on Rhodes' homecoming weekend.


Later we went to a pub and met up with some of Amy's friends to watch the Arsenal match. I still haven't found my team yet, but Arsenal comes highly recommended. Amy also lives really close to Emirates Stadium (Arsenal's home stadium), which is just really cool.

Next was a bar/club in Camden, called the Monarch (I believe? that could be wrong...). They were only playing songs from soundtracks, and it made for some awesome dance tunes. I'm still suffering from Fresher's Flu so unfortunately I had to leave earlier than I usually would have when presented with that kind of dance-like-crazy opportunity. Damn you, sickness!

We went back to Amy's flat, where we both immediately crashed. This morning we had coffee, then I took the tube back to the coach station in Notting Hill. Got back to Oxford in the early afternoon and I've been exhausted and generally worthless for the better part of the day. But it was so worth it! It was really lovely to just see Amy again and spend time with my big. Even though I haven't been a baby Alpha in a long time, I still really look up to Amy in a lot of ways, so it's nice to know that we're both going through really similar experiences and have her nearby. And I'm looking forward to showing her around Oxford when she comes to visit!

I've got a couple blog posts to catch up on this coming week (including Matriculation and my new forays into radio!), so those will be coming soon. As always, if there's anything you guys want to hear about, just leave a comment.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Punting, or riding in boats with boys

To continue my first weekend in Oxford, back on Sunday 29th September St Cross arranged for us to spend the afternoon punting on the Isis (which eventually becomes the Thames, I believe, so we in theory could have punted to London. In theory). I'm not the biggest fan of water, and definitely not of boats that aren't easy to balance in, but punting is one of those quintessentially Oxford things that you simply must do.

It was a really lovely day, lots of sunshine and pretty warm, thankfully. In my boat was Lindsay, Kirsty, Izzy, Nick, and Michael. Thankfully we roped in the Oxford and Cambridge boys, who were well skilled enough to literally man most of the journey. We were the first punt out of the dock, and settled in for a relaxing ride. Lindsay was much braver than I and gave punting a try. I think she handled it quite well for a first timer!

Nick, our fearless leader.

Lindsay giving it a go!

Michael (our Cambridge boy), our other experienced punter.

Izzy did give the boys a run for their money.
We snacked on grapes and popcorn whilst punting along the river, it was really lovely to just relax and chat. We made friends with a little group of ducks who were quite interested in our boat, and rammed into a couple punts along the way (lots of first time punters made for some precarious yet funny moments). We made it all the way down to this pup on the river, called the Victoria's Arms, where we prompted docked and had an afternoon drink and snacks.

After hanging out and enjoying some Pimms and pints, we got back in the punt and headed to the dock. We were one of the last boats to return, having spent over two hours making the most out of such lovely punting weather. It was probably the last time we'll be able to punt until the spring, so we tried to soak it all in.

Lindsay, Kirsty, and I

Izzy, Michael, and Kirsty...looking off into the distance
We hiked back to College (ok, it was maybe a 20 minute walk), and then parted ways for Sunday afternoon errands before the shops closed. Which they do, INSANELY EARLY. Everything except Tesco's, restaurants, and pubs close by 6pm during the week, and between 4-5 on Sundays. Crazy.

Thus ended my first weekend in Oxford! xx

All You Can Eat Toast?!

My first weekend in Oxford was a busy one, and therefore will require two separate posts. On Saturday, some friends and I decided to try out Turl Street Kitchen for their famous £1.50 "All You Can Eat Toast." That's right friends, all you can eat toast.

And by toast, I mean fresh, homemade organic bread with jam, honey, Marmite, and Nutella. Oh yeah, suddenly seems much more worth that quid fifty, eh?

First of all, Turl Street Kitchen is a great place. It's open and almost all windows, and you can have meetings in the upstairs area. Turl Street Kitchen is well known for its use of locally grown and ethically sourced ingredients. Plus, the menu for lunch and dinner changes daily, so no risk of ever getting stuck with the boring same old, same old. 

Once we arrived and I fell in love a bit, we got a table (which was actually a large wooden picnic-style bench), it was time for toast. We were not disappointed.

All the fixings for a feast.

Kept that poor little toaster running the whole time.

Homemade bread! 

The first of many.
Despite being mistaken for a waitress by an older gentleman demanding for a table (no sir, I'm just making toast, I don't work here), it was a lovely breakfast. I did discover that I most definitely do NOT like Marmite. No sir. Although the face I made after trying it was quite entertaining for everyone else. Definitely worth going back, although I think I might like to try out their lunch or dinner options. Certainly avoiding the Marmite.

Turl Street Kitchen is located at 16-17 Turl Street, Oxford, OX1 3DH, right between Broad and High Streets. You can check out their website here.

Clearly Slacking...

I've been in Oxford 18 days now and this is my first blog post. I know, not off to a great start. So the next few posts will be a bit of a recap to get everyone up to speed.

I arrived on Monday, 24th September (feels so long ago now!). It was, of course, raining when I got to Oxford and then had to carry my luggage around until I found my college, St Cross.

I went through all the necessary registration, which lasted a couple hours, before moving into my flat. I'm living at the St Cross Annexe, in a flat with four other people. We all have our own rooms, but share a kitchen and two bathrooms. My room is pretty big, and I even have nice bay windows to look out onto...the large tree. Oh well. I don't live with other freshers, which was a bit disappointing, but I've made friends quickly enough.

We had roughly two weeks of Freshers' events, which was great because it helped me to make friends almost immediately, and to get used of Oxford. It's a small town, pretty much everywhere is walkable (sometimes 20 minutes, but those are places I'll probably never have to visit). Friends had told me Oxford was small, but I didn't realize just how much so. It's really great when you have to walk everywhere (although my feet were not happy after the first week, believe me). 

One of the best things about Oxford that I didn't initially think I'd appreciate so much is how the University and the city blend together. Academic and administrative buildings are on the same street as your favorite cafe or across from clothing shops. There isn't the "gate mentality" like at Rhodes, which is pretty refreshing. Granted, there isn't an Honor Code, but nothing's perfect.

During the first week we had some great events - Pimms and croquette at College, for instance. Those Freshers events were key to me making friends. That was honestly by biggest concern about moving to England, and thankfully it turned out to be nothing to worry about at all. St Cross is a relatively small college, and it's very international, so I've met people from all over the world. Several of my friends also went to Oxford for their undergraduate degrees, so it's been really cool (and helpful!) to hear their stories and their advice on Oxford. 

I think that's a good introductory post for now - I think they'll be a bit more thematic from now on, instead of "I did this, and then this, and blah blah blah."Because that's not very interesting, is it?

And because I've now been at Oxford too long to take touristy photos, I leave you with the only one I bothered to take, whoops: 

P.S. Also, if there's anything in particular you want to hear about whilst I'm here, please just comment and let me know (although I really doubt anyone is actually going to read this or care enough to make requests, but I thought I'd at least offer).