Destinations, Ruminations

Oxford, revisited

Bikes on Broad Street
Broad Street
University Parks
University Parks
Radcliffe Camera, Oxford
Radcliffe Camera
Port Meadow
Port Meadow
High Street, Oxford
High Street

There are days when your newsfeed works against you. Yesterday was one of those days. Three of my friends are headed back for another term at my hallowed Oxford without me. And both BuzzFeed and the NY Times decided to gang up on me and remind me why nothing, nothing can compare to my semester in the City of Dreaming Spires.

Oxford is hard to describe to people who don’t know it. I’ve tried to explain it by saying “the air smells intelligent,” which doesn’t make any real sense and, instead, makes people doubt how I ended up at Oxford in the first place. But I stand by it.

There’s a cool edge to the air that quivers with potential. I breathed it as I walked down cobblestone lanes, trying to wrap my brain around the fact that 800 years of students had strolled them before me. I breathed it as I biked down Banbury Road with my dinner gown flapping in the wind. I breathed it as I ate potatoes, potatoes, and more potatoes in a Harry Potter dining hall, sitting next to some of the smartest people in the world, who will go on to be neurosurgeons, composers, writers…leaders of the modern world. I breathed it deeply as I ran along the banks of the Isis and watched rowers’ oars beat like butterfly wings. I breathed excessively it as I hyperventilated about paper deadlines and my increasing sleep debt. Oxford was the deepest, most scintillating breath of air I’ve had. Try going back to standard oxygen after that.

If you happen to have the glorious good luck of still being an undergraduate, I urge you to check out this program to study for a term in Oxford. (And no, you don’t even have to be a UGA student!) It absolutely rocked my world. Three years have passed and I still see it as the best three months of my life. Now please, I’m going to go happy-drown in memories.



Destinations, England

Touchdown in Stansted.

Wake-up call from the Stansted sheep

Below is a draft saved on my Tumblr since last August. So here we go. The first of my backpacking blog entries. Roughly unedited. The date was Friday, August 19, 2011, and covers our overseas crossing from Atlanta to NYC to London Heathrow to London Stansted.

So it’s the first time I’ve had a moment alone with my computer and some yummy WiFi. And I can’t think of anything except for how tired I am.

I came home on Tuesday evening from Athens. Once I’d run all the necessary errands, I began packing on Wednesday at noon. For a 20-day trip plus THREE MONTHS of Oxfordian heaven. So to say I was frazzled was an understatement. After 1.5 hours of sleep (oh yeahhhh), I was chilling at the airport gate. Flying was quite the nail-biter today, given the fact that 3/4 of our group members (myself included) were flying standby.

Fortunately for us, we were cleared onto the first flights to New York and London that came our way. For the duration of the 27 hours of plane, eight-hour layover, plane, and 1.5 hour bus rides, I floated in a constant state of eat-sleep.

But here I am, safe and sound in the Stansted Inn, a hostel with a private bathroom the same size as the bedroom, with sheep bleating in the front yard and trees arching over the long rocky driveway.

We dined at The George, a five minute walk from our hostel. I had grilled fish, chips, peas, and a celebratory class of wine. The crowd was old – just one woman in the pub was under fifty.

And now, after more eating, it is time to sleep again.

This, my friends, is surreal. Later gators.



First meal? Fish and chips, of course.
Over the meadow, down the gravel road to get to the hostel
Over the meadow, down the gravel road to get to the hostel.