Friday, January 30, 2004

Late-breaking info...

Hey all! So, my dear housemate Tina Koopmans is now publishing blogs, feel free to head to her site and see what strikes her about her experiences here... (it's linked on the side). Also, I'm in the process of putting up some pictures that Joel has taken on his digital camera- there aren't many right now, but you're more than welcome to check out the ones that are there. You'll find them at: http://community.webshots.com/user/jennvb, or check out the link on the side. Oh, and I'm supposed to say something about how these files may not be used without the express written consent of Mr Joel Rusthoven or something. Tomorrow we're off to Warwick castle, so that's exciting, my first castle visit! I also have my first duedate for a paper tomorrow, but it's just a rough draft and it was pretty much so that he'd know that I was working on it, so I think it just might have to be emailed in on Monday. Cheerio!

Some struggles

Thus far, this trip has been an amazing experience. However, there are some things that some of us non-ABU students are struggling with. I'll be speaking for myself only on these things, I don't exactly know to what extent other feel the same way, although I know there is similar feelings.
One of the main things that I have had a hard time adjusting to is the fact that we're with a Baptist University programme. I have absolutely nothing against Baptists, by the way. It just is a fact, however, that their universities are run a little bit differently, I think, than Redeemer, at least. At ABU, the administration is there to be your stand-in parent-- whereas, I think, Redeemer gives the students much more independance. After going out on my own (well, with my dear Kenny) for four months in BC, learning how to do things on my own, figure out cities on my own and whatnot, the powers-that-be here in Charlbury seem to be almost holding our hands for every thing that we do. Given the fact that there's a first year student here with us, maybe that's not such a bad idea for some of it, but, having only one year of university left after this experience, I personally was hoping to have to learn some things on my own, somewhat like the Redeemer in France students do.
Every monday, we get our tickets to and from Oxford for the week handed to us in a package, every monday we are told not to lose these tickets, they cost money, we need them to get to our lectures, we won't know what to do if we don't have a ticket, etc etc etc. I'm quite sure that if people lose these tickets once, they will not make that mistake again, and if they do lose their tickets they'll learn how to buy new tickets.
We recieve weekly lectures about how much time we should be spending in the library, about how we should be staying at the Bodlian until 9 or 10 pm and not coming in on the earlier trains, about how we should do research, how we should write papers, etc etc etc. For my essay for Drama, I have to submit an outline for the paper, a rough draft, and a final copy. By the third year in university, I have had to write a *few* papers, so it's a little bit tedious to have to do these things which I haven't had to do since grade 12. I'm sure that it will make for a better mark, but unfortunately I'm clinging to my want for independance.
The level of academia (sp?) is not quite what I was expecting. This part, I'm not complaining about, but we're definitely not studying at the Oxford level, or anywhere near. The requirements all line up with the ABU requirements for their courses, which seem to be a little lower than RUC- for their ISU, they only have to write one ten page paper, whereas we have to write three. I think that I would have been over my head in the actual Oxford course, so I don't mind this so much. However, we pretty much are just attending the England branch of ABU.
This is a fairly new programme, it's been in existance for ten years but didn't really get off the ground until two years ago, so we're the third group that's in this full swing. So, given that, it's understandable that there are things that need working out... communication between ABU admin and ABU Oxford students needs to improve before the actual departure... more information on financial costs needs to be given and cleared up... course expectations and syllabi and requirements need to be organized and presented ahead of time...
Anyhow, it's been my prayer since before I came that God would use this time in England to teach me, and I'm learning... or at least I'm trying. It seems to me that it's fairly difficult to learn something without having something to struggle with first. Or, put another way, the lesson seems to be a lot more effective if one has to work at the solution. I suppose that I'll have to swallow my want of independance and previous expectations fairly quickly, and pay attention to what God's telling me.
Anyhow, as Julie said tonight, one of the best things about this experience thus far has been getting to know the other students in this programme. It's been amazing, we're a very blessed group. I, myself, have been getting to know Cara Duffy, an ABU student, and we've had some great conversations and good times together already. (she's even trying to convince me to go running with her in the mornings! hmm...)

Monday, January 26, 2004

January 25

I met a very interesting chap today, a man by the name of Alan. (that's A-lan, not ALL-an or a-LAN, but A-lan) We went to Leckham this morning for church at the little Baptist church there, and there met the most delightful group of people that I have encountered thus far. The pastor there, a fellow from Romania, introduced us as the students from "USA", but Doug Horseman (our "parent" while here) quickly corrected him on that note. There are about forty members of this church, and every one that we met was truly welcoming and friendly. As a church, they had invited us to stay for lunch, so we sat down, expecting the normal meal of soup and buns that churches provide for groups. Lunch started with soup and buns, and continued on to include sausage rolls, mini pizzas, jacket potatoes (baked potatoes), salad, veggies, and a couple other things. And the desserts... brownies, chocolate cake, puddings, fruit salad, cheese cake, some sort of yogurt/sour cream cake, etc etc. It was one of the best meals that I've eaten upon arriving. Cara and I sat across the table from this gentleman, Alan, who is one of the most inviting and funniest souls that I've come across, I"d have to say that he's my favorite thus far. He regaled us with stories from his childhood, tales of his camping across Europe, anecdotes of his grandchildren and descriptions of his wife, whom he married four years ago. A fantastic story teller, to be sure. I'm quite sad that their church is a forty minute drive away, I should like to go there again.
Twekesbury Abbey was next on the list this aft, and we behaved like such a group of tourists! I have to laugh at our group all the time, we try to act all nonchelaunt and pretend that we're not tourists, but there is really no hiding the fact when we get out of the van at places like this and immidiately twenty cameras come flying out. It is a very grand place, it's the largest parish church in England, I would believe (it's classified as Parish church and not cathedral, though). The only thing I could think of when I walked down the nave was, "where's the rest of the redeemer choir when I need them?" I would have given anything to sing Crucifixus or O Vos Omnes or the like in there, to hear the acoustics. I figured that just singing the Alto part really wouldn't do the Abbey justice at all. The organ that is there was built in the 16th C, I think? At any rate, it's an organ that John Milton used to play, I thought that was pretty interesting.
I saw a kneeling bench to the side bearing an inscription that I very much like: "More is wrought by prayer than the world will ever dream."
On our way home, we stopped in Burford so that some could get some supper, and while Sam, Tina and I went off to find a Loo, two nameless people in our group decided that they would like to stay in the van while people got their suppers. The van started to get chilly, so one of them turned the key in the ignition to turn on the engine and get some heat, but --it's a standard, and the e-brake wasn't on-and s/he didn't have his/her foot on the clutch or brake or whatever one is supposed to do--and there was a little red car in front of the van. Suffice it to say that when the three of us got back to the van, we were a little confused at seeing a red car parked on the road almost horizontal to the van, and the van not where we had left it at all. No harm was done to the car, but we all had to sit tight while insurance forms were being filled out and all...the policeman came, the witnesses fillout out their info, and we went home, breathing a little less easy than before.
All in all, a fairly decent day. The sun came out from hiding yesterday and for most of today, so that did a lot to brighten the general mood of the group. We are now entering what is to be the coldest month of the year, we sat at around 0 degrees C today, which is quite chilly because it's so damp. Snow is forcasted for tomorrow. !!!!! :) How exciting!

A Typical Day

Thus beginneth my third week in Chalbury. What's a typical day for me?
My alarm knocks me up at 8:10 (funny story: The second night we were here, Joel's host asked him if he wanted her to 'knock him up' in the morning. He hadn't heard that term used before he came...) and somewhere between 8:20 and 8:30 I actually rise up out of bed. Showers only happen every other day or so, hot water is very pricey. Breakfast cosists of Mussli, without fail, and half a glass of orange juice. At five to nine, Tina and I speedwalk to the baptist church for 9am, and there we participate in group devotions. (On fridays we only have to walk a minute around the corner to the Methodist Church) After chapel (On Tues-Thurs), we all walk five minutes down to the train station, for the 9:41 train to Oxford. Upon arrival in Oxford, we head to the library (the public one, we're not allowed in the Bodlian until 4pm) for a couple hours before lunch (Last week we had lectures in the morning). At 1pm, the dinner bell rings at Regent's Park College, and we take a place around one of the tables (don't sit until a prayer has been said, and crikey, don't wear your hat at the table!) and after someone bangs their spoon on the table and says a short word of prayer, we take our seats and are served a delcious hot meal- mash and bangers, meat pies, roasted potatoes and roast beef with gravy, etc etc etc- and an amazing dessert- puddings of every shape and size that you can imagine (thankfully my confusion about puddings was laid to rest already last week- a pudding is a dessert, not nec. what we call it in Canada- it's usually a coffee cake-ish type thing, with custard (our pudding) on it, sometimes).
So. After we stuff ourselves in the dining hall, we wander off to the hall across the quad in which we have our two hour lecture for the day. We're never really sure until we get there what our lecture is actully going to be on, so it makes it a little difficult to do our readings in advance. And the lecturers themselves aren't quite sure either, it seems- take for instance our Thursday afternoon lecture- it was supposed to be on Shakespear's tragedies, but our lecturer failed to show up. So, like good little boys and girls, we actually stayed in class for the full two hours, but watched a BBC production of Julius Caesar instead (the same one that I saw in gr 10, I think it was...) because we have to have it read for next week. Anyhow, after class ends at four, we head over to the Bodlian, and hunker down at our reading desks for a couple hours. This week, Tina, Joel and I went to Evensong two out of the three evenings at 6, and tried to go the third time but had the time wrong for the Magdelene service- and after evensong finishes, back to the Bodlian. Round about 9, I head back to the train station, and walk in the door back home by 9:45.
On Mondays and Fridays, lecture at either the baptist or methodist church at 9, lunch at 12, and afternoons free to study.
So, the first week we had two lectures per day, this week we have one lecture a day, and in March we'll have library time for most of the days.
Saturdays are supposed to be free days for studying and doing our own thing, but on several occassions they have events planned for us, which are "optional" but attendance is *highly* encouraged. Same goes for Sundays.
Last night Tina and I had dinner with our host. Considering the fact that our lunch with the group had been at 11am, 9pm was an awfully long time to wait to eat again! Nevertheless, the food was delicious, and the conversation lasted until after 10. Marion really is a very nice lady, she's quite fun to talk to, and has a laugh like I've never heard before, so both Tina and I are becoming more at ease with her. However, we still very much feel like we're intruding a lot on her, and she remains very strict about what we can/cannot do/eat/etc etc. The house itself does not lend itself to a feeling of welcoming, the living room has a vaulted ceiling and the windows at the back go all the way up, 20ft or however high it would be, every wall, every door, every baseboard and every heater is painted white, and there are no curtains up anywhere, just white mini-blinds. There is one painting hung up in the living room, a piano, a dining table, and a couch. It feels quite sterile, like a hospital waiting room or something. I very much prefer to do my readings and such in my room, I don't feel quite as much as I'm in someone else's space in here.
At any rate, life is progressing well here, I can't believe that this is already the last week in January! Monday marks the Great One's birthday (My dearest friend Mary Elizabeth Grace,-and, I guess, Wayne Gretzky, oh, and it's Vince Carter's birthday too, they share the day with good company!) and Monday, our second trip to London.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

January 20-- Evensong at Christ Church

Instead of heading to the library to study this evening, Tina, Joel, Sam, Cara and I decided to make the most of the culture we're surrounded by and go to Evensong at Christ Church college. This was one of the best decisions that I have made since arriving in this country. The cathedral in Christ Church is breathtaking. (I know, Rich, you could probably tell me ones that surpass this one, but I have yet to visit those) Rather than having the seats facing the front, they are parallel with the aisle, at which I'm still a little puzzled. There is only three or four rows of benches on either side of the aisle, and behind that, standing room, I guess. The aisle (nave?) is phenomenally long, and the benches line it all the way to the front, where there is a triptych. We took our seats and the organ played while a few more people came in; there was only about 30 people, at the very most, that were there. The choir was breathtaking. It was an all boys choir, ranging from just over two feet to over six feet in height...
I'm so grateful that our choir sang the evensong at Dr Bowen's church last year, I appreciated the songs just that much more, having had to learn how to sing the psalm and the Magnificat and Nunc Dimintus. Redeemer choir, be thankful that you didn't have to learn the psalm they sang tonight, it lasted for about ten minutes, I kid you not. And just think, it took us a couple weeks to learn one psalm, they do a new one everyday! It really blew my mind.
These little boys that were in the choir sang so earnestly and because we were so close if I looked at one I could tell which voice was his, and they were so ...pure and clear. Phenomenal. It takes a little bit of the surrealism away when the start wiping their noses on their sleeves and whatnot, but it was incredible nonetheless. Tomorrow we're going to Magdalene College for the evensong, and after that we decided that we should probably stick to going only once a week, or
all our evenings will be in evensongs and not studying at the Bodlian. Which I wouldn't mind at all, but unfortunately, I'm not here to soley attend evensongs. By the by, how's the Redeemer Choir tuning up this semester? Going to be ready for the Intervarsity Choir Festival?
Today Sam said to me, 'Jenn, I think you're my arch nemesis.' And refused to explain himself. The best comment he's come out with, by far, I would have to say, happened on Saturday: 'I understand the Hobbits much better now, having been here a week.

January 19-- LONDON

Monday afternoon, we nipped out to London for a play. For a couple days leading up to our excursion, I thought of little else. When I was in grade 6 I was in the musical Oliver...having played the little orphan boy wandering the streets of London way back then, all of the pictures that I had in my head of London way back then surfaced in my mind, and I was very eager to
walk on the streets on which the play was set. I know, a fictional book set a couple hundred years ago, it's not likely that I would see anything of what Dickens was writing. But, the ideas were swimming around my head.
When we exited the bus (mind the steps, cheers!) we were in the commercial section, high rise modern buildings, nothing that resembled the London in my head. We strolled up to the gates of Buckingham Palace, quite an inconspicuous group of tourists, swarming with cameras. As soon as we walked up the two guards at the front took it upon themselves to show
off, and so began the rigorous process of picking up the rifle, banging it on the ground, putting it back on the shoulder, pointing it, changing its position, stomping feet and flailing arms, and then walking back and forth. Dusk was beginning to fall and our play started in an hour, so Madeline whisked us off to gawk at Big Ben as soon as we caught sight of it, and then Westminster Abbey, and up into the pickpocketing zone. We had no pockets picked, but we did almost lose Michelle. There was a sign at one of the theatres announcing tickets on sale for STOMP- I almost went in and bought one.
With three minutes before the performance began, we arrived at the National Theatre. Our purpose there: watch a four and a half hour performance of 'Mourning becomes Electra.' This play is written by O'Neil, based on Euripides' Oerestia a greek tragedy from waaay back when. I'm not sure I've ever encountered a plot more tragic- in the original play, the main
family is related to Helen of Troy. Her sister, Clytaemnestra, marries Agamemnon, who is a general in this nine year war over Helen. To make a long story short, Agamemnon kills his oldest daughter so that his ship would sail (thus says the soothsayer), while he is away at battle his wife takes up a lover and when Agamemnon returns home she poisons him, their son kills her, he goes mad from the guilt, and kills himself, and in the end we are left with Electra, the youngest daughter. In addition to all this, we have the Oeidipus and Electra complexes that the children and the parents have. This production is based during the American Civil War, and it basically all transfers over except there is no older daughter that was killed, there is only Orwen (the son) and Lavinnia (Electra). These two, along with their parents, compose the most
incestuous family that I have ever heard of. The mother and the son love eachother and have one or two passionate kisses, the father and daughter love eachother and have very extended goodnights, and the son and the daughter become *very* close, quite a bit closer than the relationship in Moon Tiger, and it's all quite sordid. But the production was amazing, the actors were phenomenal (although it is quite amusing to listen to British actors try to imitate american accents!), and the set was one of the best I've every seen... the way they transformed it...amazing. Definitely a positive experience, despite having watched two people being murdered and two people killing themselves and the last one entombing herself in her house.
Insanity is the one word that I was left with in the very last scene. In about ten seconds of no dialogue, they very clearly and cleverly left that word with the audience. I can't wait until next Monday, we head back to London!

Monday, January 19, 2004

January 16

Tonight is the end of the first full week that I have been in England. How different things seem than when we first drove down the narrow street of Charlbury in our big tour bus seven days ago! The quaint streets that we drove past are now part of our walks every day to and from lectures, the accent that we were so excited to hear at first is now normal, it’s quite odd to hear someone from outside our group with a North american accent.
I am convinced now, more than ever, that I want an English accent, and I want it quickly. I’m already tired of recieving these “looks” from people surrounding me whenever I open my mouth and reveal my foreignness. For the most part, these are not approving looks, and I’m beginning to understand why- I’ve had several people ask me where in the United States I’m from- and I quickly inform them that I’m Canadian. Apparently, although Canadians are still not sophisticated and cultured, they’re not quite as bad as Americans. Too bad for me that I spent so much time in Michigan last year, the accent seems quite reluctant to leave my speech! (No offence to you americans...)
The Canadian director of our programme will be heading home on Sunday, and though his knowledge will be missed, we are all looking forward to gaining some sleeping time and whatnot. (BTW, he took a direct shot at us Redeemer students today in the lecture, he said, we must make sure that we are not on the end of saying that humans are “totally depraved” as Calvinists are prone to say, or to be on the end of saying that humans are all good, but we must rest somewhere in the middle, as Baptists do. Hmm. You should have seen the looks that Tina and Heidi were exchanging!)
Tonight, Joel, Tyler, Cara and myself were the first ABU Oxford students to attend the Regent’s Park formal dinner. Every Friday night, the students and staff get dressed up “smartly” and we get table clothes and fancy dishes and a wonderful meal, and they have graciously invited up to four of us per week while we’re here, so that we each get a chance to experience this at least once. A very charming student by the name of Alex was our host, and informed us that he was a fourth year student at Regent, something quite uncommon because it’s a three year programme, but he was abroad studying in France last year, so he is only now completing his bachelors. He was quite kind to explain many things to us, what airline to travel, should we need to, what to see in Oxford, which Evensong service to attend, and what Sunday night worship services happen in Oxford. After dinner he invited the four of us to his place for tea, so that we’d have somewhere to chill before the evening festivities. Twice a term (and the British have three 8 week terms) Regent has “Bops,” aka dances. According to Alex, these bops have never been called dances or discos because, well, most likely because of tradition. So. We went to a bop. (shhhh, no one tell the ABU administrators, apparently it’s an ix-nay on the dancing for their college.) It was a fairly informal function, but there were plenty of lights and whatnot, and the music was all classic dance/disco music. Kind of funny that we went to our first English bop before our first English play! Anyhow, it was a very good opportunity to mingle with some of the Regent students, in a less formal setting than the lunches every day at which we see them.
Today was quite a rarity- there was no rain. At least not while we were outside. It was wet when we got up but the sun was shining brightly, and true to the pattern at round about 10am, it clouded over, but the rain never came, and the sun came out again later- what a pleasant surprise! I think I’ve already got the English “optimism” about weather... ;) Apparently the group that went last year had maybe a week of rain altogether when they were in England for the three months- we’ve got them beat already, I’ve seen so much rain!
Have a great weekend everyone, Redeemer students, hope you enjoy the retreat, play a game of Egyptian Rat screw for me.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

January 10

Today was Stratford-Upon-Avon. Somehow, after living in the little town (hamlet?) of Charlbury for just one short day made Stratford less exciting. Charlbury is a town of amazing little "cottages" which are mostly apartments or flats, or townhouses. But, townhouses that were built in the 1700's. It looks like a set from "The Secret Garden" or a Jane Austen movie... Anyhow. Stratford. First stop was, of course, the theatre. We got to walk on the apron stage of the Swan theatre-- the theatre in which Judie Dench would be standing on just five hours after us! It was smaller than I thought it would be-- the Swan theatre in Stratford On has quite a bit more seating in it than this one. We walked through backstage to the Royal theatre, and it really is quite amazing: these two theatres share one back stage! So, when there is a play on in each, there are over 50 people in an incredibly small space at an average point in the play. We walked across the stage of the Royal, and apparently professional stages have a grade (grate?) -a slant so that the stage can be fully seen by those in the back or in the balcony. Interesting... I'm quite glad that I didn't have to work on a slanted stage when I did plays in highschool!
For lunch, the set us loose on the town for an hour and a half, and Tina and I chose "Anne Hathaway's Tea House," from which we bought sandwiches (Tina went adventurous- a pickle and cheese sandwich!) for quite a cheap price, and sat in a park (a close?) to enjoy them. We saw everything from a dad telling his 2 year old daughter to "go splash in the puddles with your Wellies!" to a middle aged man honking at the geese in the park. We visited a bookstore-- Hannah-- they had a video of David Beckham for only 1pound and I was going to get that for you, but I was told that videos from the UK don't work in Canada. Sorry!
Next stop -- Mary Auden's farm. The most interesting part of this tour was not the Tudor house, but the etimology. I learned so many things about words from the tour guide it was exciting!
-- In that era, what they ate off of was called a "board." the board had a worse side (for eating off of) and a good side (for the rest of the day), and was flipped according to what it was needed for. After dinner, flip the table over and gather around for a meeting== thus began the "board meetings"

All in all, famously good day. Wrapped up with an announcement that we should have access to the internet by Sunday or Monday, which is definitely good news. Till then!

January 9

Besides the whole mix up with my laptop battery and the school office, we left on time and in good shape. Well, Nathan's battery was dead, so we (and by we I mean Joel) had to find jumper cables and Mr Martin saved the day and boosted the car. So. Once we were on the road, things were fine. We arrived at the airport in good time, met up almost right away with Susan, an ABU Oxford student, Carole, also an oxford student, ended up right behind us in the checkin line, and then we found Joel Rusthoven and Heidi and Tina within minutes. Sam and Nathan have a friend who works for Air Canada and he pulled us out of line to open a new checkin for us, and good thing he did-- Susan's ticket had apparently been cancelled by the travel agent over a month ago! So this friend spent close to an hour on the phone and eventually managed to get her back on to our exact flight, and we all went through.
Once we boarded the plane, poor Tina was all by her lonesome-- the others of us all got tickets in one section, while she was 15 rows up from us. Before the flight began, the attendants had to duct tape a baggage compartment up, and find out what fuse kept blowing, causing all the lights to go off. When we were scheduled to fly, the captain came on with the announcement that one of our second engines wasn't working properly so they had to check that out, but no big deal, we'll fly anyway. Great. When the movie started, I plugged in my ear phones and found classical music, classical music, and more classical music. I couldn't change the channel to the movie audio, and I could only even hear the classical music in my right ear. Oh well, I watched the whole of "Seabuscuit" without audio and could follow the plot better than other movies I've watched with audio. Supper was served at 8 or 9, and breakfast was served at 12 (5am England). We arrived safely in Heathrow at 6:41am, but couldn't exit the plane because (1) the plane ahead of us wasn't out of the terminal yet, and (2) when it did leave the terminal they couldn't attach the walkways to the plane. When we got off and made it to Immigration, we had lost Tina and then got split up into two different lines-- Susan, Carole and I got the better end of the deal-- we made it through before Sam, Joel and Heidi cleared the half way point. While we were getting our baggage, Susan raised an interesting point-- had anyone actually seen Tina get *on* the plane?? We waited for fourty five min for sam and the gang to clear immigration, and Lo and behold, Tina was with them. We met Dr Mantz, and then sat in Heathrow for another three hours, for three different flights to come in. Once we all boarded the bus, (after one girl had to retrieve her passport from the plane, and a guy had to get his backpack that he had set down in immigration) we proceeded to Charlbury, and most of us slept the majority of the way. We had lunch in the Baptist church, which was built in the 1850's, took a walking tour of downtown Charlbury, met our hosts and unpacked (and took showers and changed-- 35 hours in the same clothes is a bit much!!), walked back to the church to have supper, and then walked back home again.
So. I know, it's long, and I'm sorry if I droned too much. But. I cannot differentiate between today and yesterday-- when you don't sleep, and you miss five hours of a day, then it doesn't really appear as if you're in your second day as opposed to your first. My host's name is Marion, quite a lovely lady to talk to, and she knows what she wants and doesn't want out of this experience of having us, and has made that clear. A little intimidating, Tina and I were hoping for a host that would say, we're only *supposed* to feed you breakfast, but here's lunch and / or supper too... nope. *This* is our cupboard, *those* are hers. mmm, it'll be interesting to see how this all turns out. I could forsee some tension in the future three months, but then again, maybe because she's so upfront with what we are not to do, we won't run into problems.
Tomorrow we head to Stratford to do some sightseeing- Get a tour around the festival theatre, and tour a 17th century farm. And maybe wander around for a bit on our own. Oh, I forgot to mention one thing-- in order to get to the place where we'll be having lectures, I have to walk past this quaint little "cottage," which happens to be where the Arch Bishop of Canterbury lives on the weekends. Right here in downtown charlbury. And Marion does his gardens.
Work also begins, though, I have to have two plays read by friday. Shouldn't be a problem, they look interesting. "The Way of the World" and "The Beggar's Opera."
Well, I'm off to bed. Much to be done tomorrow, little sleep to be gotten.

Landed in England.

Greetings to all! I don't have much to post today, although fear not, I have recorded the adventures of my journey and the first weekend here. However, my access to the internet will be fairly limited in the next three months, so what I have ison my laptop at home in Charlbury, and I'll put that on a disk and set it on here sometime this week. I am currently sitting in the Bodlian Library in Oxford, looking out on a quad of not green grass but stones. Strange to think that this building was constructed in the 1600's. Although this will most definitely be an enjoyable and thoroughly mind-boggling four months, I am quite sure that it will be quite a long haul. I haven't even been gone from Ontario for a week and it quite seems like a month already. But, I am quite a fan of the rolling green country side and the hundreds of years old buildings, it's so beautiful here, I can't quite comprehend it yet. Joel has brought a digital camera with him, so I plan to put a picture or two of my town on this site, you would have to see it to believe it. It's absolutely incredible. Like a movie set or something. Anyhow. More to come

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Oxford

Arguably the world's most famous university town, Oxford is graced by superb college architecture and oozes questing youthfulness, scholarship and bizarre high jinks. The views across the meadows to the city's golden spires are guaranteed to appear in three out of 10 English period dramas, but they manage to remain one of the most beautiful and inspiring of sights. Back in the real world, Oxford is not just the turf of toffs and boffs, it was a major car-manufacturing centre until the terminal decline of the British car industry and is now a thriving centre of service industries. The pick of the colleges are Christ Church, Merton and Magdalen, but nearly all the colleges are drenched in atmosphere, history, privilege and tradition. Don't kid yourself, you wouldn't have studied any harder in such august surroundings.

Lonelyplanet.com

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Two more sleeps

Mission at the end of this four months: Get together with other Redeemer Oxford students and create some sort of a package for Redeemer students hoping to do this programme in the future. Little things that we haven't been told are becoming fairly important in the last few days... For instance, unlike American currency, British pounds are not really kept in banks-- they must be ordered from the Mint, which takes ten days. Who knew? Fortunately for us, we found a bank that seems to have an abundance of pounds. Anyhow, International student cards have been bought, BRITRAIL passes have been ordered, money has been exchanged, Independant studies are being organized, and rides are being worked out to the airport for Thursday afternoon. As much as I am passionate about snow, I will be praying that none comes on Thursday to interfere with our flight out.
One thing that I will be sad to leave- I just learned how to play Settlers of Catan this past week, and won't be able to play for the next eight months, probably. Although, since I don't have classes this week, I managed to squeeze in a game yesterday-and Ben, a new comer to the game, cleaned up. *sigh*
I have been informed by the prestigious Don Russel from Financial Aid that when we travel to Scotland, we are to get off the train in his hometown, spit on the ground, and say, "this is for Don Russel!!" Consider it done, Don.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Did you know?

When conversing about the weather, the main thing is to complain that it’s too hot or cold or wet or whatever. When confronted with an incontestably beautiful day, the correct phraseology is, “Lovely day, isn’t it? Can’t last, though.” –Oh how optimistic!

The English pronounce “Worcestershire sauce” as “Wooster sauce,” “Feathersonehaugh” as “Fanshaw,” and “St John” as “Sinjin.” Funny how even though I’m going to England, an obviously English speaking country, I still have to learn a new language!

If you step on a true Englishman’s foot, he will say “I”m so sorry” before you have time to apologise, thus exposing your bad manners and lack of breeding. Maybe I’ll just stick to stepping on Sam’s feet.

Food comes in interesting combinations with interesting titles... “Toad in the hole” refers to pork sausages in pancake mix, “Spotted dick” is a dessert consisting of suet pudding with currents and raisins, and if you ask for “Bangers and mash,” you’ll be served sausages and
mashed potatoes. The latter sounds the most appealing to me.

I think I’m in for all sorts of adventures. Bring it on! 7 days from now I’ll be on my way to the airport. Three days from now I’ll be back in Hamilton. I’d better start packing!

CHARLBURY: home for the next 4 months

Athlough a fairly small country town, the manor of Charlbury was founded in Anglo-Saxon times. It was granted the status of “town” over 300 years ago–before Oxford. It is located in the Evenlode Valley, about 16 miles North-west of Oxford. The town central street plan has remained unaltered since the Middle Ages, and most of the houses in the older part date from the 18th and 19th Centuries. One of the churches located in Charlbury is St Mary’s, which is partly Norman, but mostly 13th and 14th century. (A little bit older than the CRC churches most of us are accustomed to attending!)
“Charlbury is ideal for rambles on bridleways, rights of way, and other marked walking paths, but you had better beg, borrow or buy a pair of Wellies if you’re venturing out after a recent rain. These walks will take you along ancient Roman tracks, Saxon ditches, and the Wynchwood Forest for a fascinating experience of natural history.”
Thanks to the ABU study programme folks for the information!