Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Theoretically Christian University

Theoretically, Azusa Pacific University is a Christian school.

I say theoretically because this is what the school claims, their motto even being "God first." I say theoretically because when one might imagine a Christian university, they would most likely imagine all faucets of the university emulating God and His true and holy word. A Christian university should be so rooted in God that the truth wouldn't be a questionable thing dependent on what is "politically correct" or acceptable in society's eyes. The truth wouldn't be a gray area or up for discussion because the university would know where to look--to God and His word. The only truth.

This is what I thought I would be getting. This is why I decided it would be worth all of the loans I'd have to pay off for a decade or two.

Is this what I've received? Unfortunately, no.

I do not write this to sound bitter or ungrateful. I have had some amazing teachers and have met some wonderful friends during my time at APU. However, I have only been attending a theoretically Christian school, nothing like what I had imagined my Christian university experience to be like.

As a freshman, I simply thought I had been assigned a unique RA and that I wouldn't encounter a lot more people on campus like her. I hoped I wouldn't meet others who made me feel bad for not being a minority race, where I was told it was normal to feel guilty for being white and was forced to listen to videos that would encourage me to feel bad for the way my Creator purposefully designed me. I assumed I wouldn't be hearing strange agendas from chapel speakers who said things like how upsetting it is that women are always the ones needing to be rescued and men are the rescuers (even though God intentionally made genders uniquely to have different desires), I figured that when faced with the government enforcement of contraceptives at all institutions, including the morning after pill, my Christian university would stand strong, doing whatever necessary, and refuse to accept this distribution of abortion pills to Christian students as an acceptable thing, as this would indirectly encourage premarital sex and murder (both very clearly laid out as sins in the Bible). I never thought these things were normal.

Unfortunately, these things weren't rare occurrences. They've had me considering transferring for more than a year. Why didn't I? I hoped--hoped that maybe I was just being overdramatic. Maybe I was closed-minded. But this is not true. I went to public school my entire life and was thrilled for the chance to be at a place for the first time in my life with Christian friends and teachers/staff fully living out God's word. It was absolutely right for me to believe that when going to a school with a motto that is "God first", I would be in a place where people truly put God first.

I know I am blessed to be receiving an education. I know I am incredibly blessed to be studying abroad in England. However,  it has been my recent conversations with students in my program here at Oxford from Christian school all over the U.S. that really made me realize I have not been crazy or overdramatic. When I tell them the stories of things I've experienced or things that go on at our campus, they are shocked and don't even understand how APU can be called a Christian school. And quite frankly, I don't blame them. I'm not going around trashing this school. Great things happen on campus. Many people are actually intentional and authentic. No one is perfect. But that doesn't mean a private Christian school can look and act so similar to a public state school when they are charging at least twice as much.

This is how I've come to the conclusion, the conclusion that Azusa Pacific University is only theoretically a Christian school.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cliches

In high school, I wrote an article for our school's newspaper on why cliches aren't overrated, and how they are actually quite useful. As annoying as it can be to hear things repeatedly, they are repeated for a reason--because they are true! For a common example, when you're single and your friends tell you that "love happens when you least expect it," you probably will become irritated because in that moment, you don't see it happening. However, later after you've met someone "by chance" (or so you think, God had it planned all along!) and are madly in love (another cliche, oops), you can look back and laugh, realizing such a cliche was in fact true. Well, I am living somewhat of a cliche right now.

Before entering college, and even during the past three years in college, I would ask friends and relatives what their favorite experiences from college were and what the regretted. Every single time I was told that I MUST study abroad. Those of my friends who hadn't studied abroad said it was the only thing they regretted not doing. Those who had studied abroad said it changed their perspective on life. I knew studying abroad was something I wanted to do since high school, but I wasn't sure that I was independent enough or willing to fill out a lengthy application to do so. In fact, it wasn't until September rolled around that I decided I would live my whole life wondering "what if?" if I didn't study abroad. Let me tell you, my friends were not lying to me. The "college study abroad" cliche is a cliche for a reason--because it is true!

I know I've only been here for three weeks, but you know what? I have already done SO much growing as an individual that I would NEVER have done if not for living abroad. I feel more independent, confident, and accomplished than I have ever felt in my entire 21 years of life! I came to a place I had never been before, not knowing a single person, but took a chance because of a cliche. I have already made three extremely amazing friends who I can tell will be friends long after this program is over. I have already grown so much academically (did I mention that Oxford is the second best school in the WORLD?!), being pushed to argue my opinions one-on-one with brilliant tutors, and not simply taking on the opinions of secondary sources to fulfill a source requirement, as I am used to doing in the States. I have become more aware of the greatness of God! I walk around the streets of Oxford and see beautiful old buildings, reveling in the history! I overhear people speaking Spanish, French, Italian, etc. every where I venture off to. What an incredible place I have the amazing opportunity of living in! I am SO blessed!!!

I know studying abroad isn't for everyone. It's quite scary to willingly sign up to do something and not know what you'll think, fearing you'll be stuck in a horrid place for months. Well, if you are a student, I am urging you to GO! Get out, push yourself, take out a loan (even if it makes you wince when doing so), cast aside any and all fears! You will never fully comprehend this feeling by just traveling! Yes, traveling is amazing! But living in a place on your own, what an accomplishment that is! You will most likely never have an opportunity to live in a different country after graduating. Of course you will miss friends, family, and your significant other (love you all and miss you dearly!), but GO! They will be waiting for you when you get back :) Do this for YOU! Don't live regretfully. Don't be the person telling a prospective college student years from now that you regret not studying abroad--just do it!!

Of course, in light of my appreciation of the experiences I've had so far, I must give a shout out to my big sister! Jamie, as you've been told (or not been told because people probably envy you so much haha!), you lead an AMAZING life! Every where you go, you live boldly and wonderfully--just as our short time on earth was meant to be lived! How could anyone look at your life and not envy your vivaciousness?! It is your passion and drive for truly living that brought me here! You are such an incredible person, an inspiration to everyone who meets you and I must thank you for simply being you! I love you so much!!!

And that's my little rant on the importance of cliches :) I have to finish my paper on Pride and Prejudice for my tutorial tomorrow, and then we're off to Edinburgh for the weekend! Amanda, Sarah, Brittany, and I booked our bus tickets today (YOLO? Haha!) and we are so excited to explore such an amazing city in Scotland! I will definitely be posting photos of our trip!! Time to get productive!

Love,
Kaylee

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tea Time with Shakespeare

Hello friends and family! :)

I hope you all had a nice long weekend thanks to MLK! Two holidays in the States that I'm missing while away--MLK Jr. Day & President's Day! However, the only reason those ever mean anything to me is because I don't have class those days haha! So this really doesn't make too much of a difference as I don't have regular class here!

Anyways, I'm having a really productive day! I'm feeling proud! :) I started my paper today and I am almost done! I'm writing on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, which is what the movie She's the Man is based on. First of all, I loved reading the play yesterday! I literally laughed out loud! I never thought I would be that nerdy girl laughing while reading Shakespeare! However, I am now that girl! Secondly, I'm enjoying writing my paper!! What is this business?! Haha I found some great secondary sources and am writing on if the reader is left with any pity for Malvolio at the end of the play (if you know what the play is about, you can give me your answer! However, I said no haha I thought it was funny).

As I'm typing this blog post, I'm sipping tea (but don't worry, I already had coffee today!). I'm just drinking tea because it's cozy. Also, tea is so much better the way they do it here. Add some milk and sugar, and it almost looks like coffee! Haha!

I believe my time management is getting a lot better here--which is amazing (Josh thinks so too haha!) At APU, I procrastinate because I tend to work better when I know I have to get things done. And because I just procrastinate ha! But living in a house with 35 students who are all being productive will definitely get you working! I'm already almost done with my paper that isn't due until Thursday afternoon! Woooo! But I have to write my Jane Austen paper that is due Friday. I had to plan this out so I'd have about two days to write that one as well. I'm not stressed though! I really enjoy this system--that's probably getting old because I say that in almost every blog post haha but it's true!

I'm sorry my posts are boring and wordy--I will work on taking more pictures (Jamie told me to haha)! However, during the week I'm just reading/writing so there isn't too much to capture! I'll take pictures of whatever events take place this weekend to spice things up :)

Back to my paper to finish it off! Have a wonderful day!

Love,
K

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Tutorials & Christians = Yay!

The last time I blogged, I said I would fill you in on how my tutorial went, so here it goes! I loved it! Let me explain it quick for those who might not know. At Oxford, instead of lectures, you meet one-on-one with a "tutor" for an hour each week (which isn't like an American tutor haha it's a brilliant person in whatever area you're studying that is like your personal teacher). You have a primary tutorial, which is every week, and a secondary tutorial, which is every other week. So this past week, I just had one (which was Shakespeare). I had to have come having read Macbeth and have written a 2000 word paper on the image of babies and children in the play. Before coming to Oxford, I was terrified thinking that I was going to have such a hard time because Oxford is so prestigious! However, 2000 words is about 6 pages, which is technically a "short paper" so it's really not as bad as it might sound. I really like my primary tutor. He's a very relaxed man with a ponytail ha! Anyways, I came into the room on Thursday and we started chatting and he asked me how I like Shakespeare, and I was very honest...I told him I struggle a lot with understanding so I bought the "No Fear Shakespeare" version. See, you have to be honest in a tutorial system because they ask SPECIFIC questions and they would find out if you were lying haha! But he ended up appreciating that I did this, because he said it showed I really truly wanted to understand Shakespeare. This reaction really surprised me, but it was great! We didn't even really talk about my paper. He would ask me what I though of certain scenes or characters, and not to quiz me, but to genuinely want to know what I thought. How cool is that! I thought I would be very nervous, but I was very relaxed and it was great! I look forward to my tutorials this week, just got to get to reading haha!

Last night, Amanda, Brittany, and I went to the international Christian cafe night I had come across when looking at clubs at Oxford. We met about 12 people from all over the world, mostly the UK, because they put the event on for international students like us! It was really great! We spent a few hours chatting and learning what to not say/eat/etc. from a fellow American doing her masters here! I was talking to a girl from Malaysia for a while, a guy from Singapore told his testimony, a guy from Northern Ireland was talking about how they think Americans are "plump" (unfortunately, we didn't help this perception as we had just discussed how nothing has enough sugar here and that we need to start carrying some in our purses hahaha). But don't worry! I responded with, "Excuse me! What about Adele?!" Haha! If you didn't know, she's a heavy singer from the UK! I was just trying to make a point..ha! But it was all in good fun! Jonny, the young guy who helps puts the event on every Friday told us about a church that a lot of students go to so we'll be checking that out tomorrow! Very excited to get plugged in!

Finally, I failed this morning. I was supposed to wake up at 8:50am to get ready to leave the house by 10 to go to Stratford, however I never set the alarm on, I only set the time :( So I slept until 12 hahaha! I guess I needed some sleep! Oh well! There's plenty more weekends for such things! Probably better that I get some reading done today! So I'm off to eat, get coffee, and read Pride and Prejudice! I hope you have a splendid day!

Love,
K

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Purple Turtle

Thank you if you've been praying for me! If you read my last post, you know I've been having some difficulties being in the "second stage" of studying abroad haha but I definitely felt such a peace and acceptance yesterday, that I knew someone had been praying! I had too, but I just felt it! It made me smile as I was on the bus and appreciated all the different people that were there as well :) So thank you thank you!

If you saw on facebook yesterday, it was my two year anniversary with Josh! It feels like it's been so much longer--in a good way haha! It's so exciting to think that at the end of the year we will be MARRIED! Wooooo! :) So that was something on my mind a lot yesterday! We both are really thankful that we're so busy with school and what not because if not, this would be so much harder! It would be so easy to dwell on the fact that we won't see each other until the end of April, but thankfully that thought only pops up for a spare second from time to time when we have time to have spare thoughts haha!

At the moment, I'm preparing for my first tutorial! My paper was finished on Tuesday (I'm shocked I did something so early haha!) so I've just been casually editing it. I'm a little nervous since orientation changed my thought process with writing (since they pretty much told us what we'd learned was not very academic, which I agree with!) so I've been second-guessing my writing. It will be nice to get some feedback from my tutor and learn from him!

This weekend, my friends and I are going to Stratford-Upon-Avon, the town Shakespeare is from! Since Shakespeare is my primary tutorial, it's fitting :) It will be neat to soak in that history! We had booked a last minute trip to Venice (yes, in Italy!), from groupon and were so excited, but then we received news from the company that they overbooked :( But I will gladly take a day trip to Stratford!

Last night, two of my friends and I went out! I was really excited because at home, I haven't "been out" since turning 21. Sure, I ordered a margarita from Chili's, but I haven't had the chance to check out the scene because none of my friends are 21 and Josh and I usually prefer to relax at home (and I love cooking for him!) so it's not something I felt like I needed to do. But last night, we went to a tavern and had a drink and then after discovering that this place was NOT where the young people hung out, we asked the bartender and he laughed and confirmed our discovery, telling us where the young people hung out was in a "dodgy looking alley at a place called The Purple Turtle." So we went! Haha there weren't a lot of people there, we assumed it was because it was Wednesday night, but we discovered that wasn't the case. As we were leaving at 11:30, we saw how packed it had gotten! Apparently it's not cool to go somewhere at 10 haha! Oh well! We had fun chatting and finding one of the "young places" ha!

Well, I better read over my paper once more and get some food! I will update after my tutorial! Have a wonderful day!

Love,
K

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

America Vs. World

I keep stumbling across little differences, that tend to upset me haha! For example, in the grocery store yesterday, I had to explain to the woman working what salsa was...yes, salsa. I never thought I'd have to explain salsa! Haha! Grocery shopping is one of the most difficult things still, because everything might as well be in a different language because I have no idea what it is (unless it's something obvious like carrots or apples haha). At home, I usually take a long time grocery shopping because I can enjoy it. Well it takes even longer here because I have no idea what I'm doing and it's stressful. It sounds stupid, but I really do not look forward to grocery shopping here! Or really interacting with locals too much. I find that they aren't very friendly, which also makes me resentful because I'm used to people smiling at me as I pass them on the street at home! I've heard about Europeans not being too fond of Americans, but I just thought it was a stereotype. This is something that's also making me appreciate home so much more--we are such a melting pot of different cultures and I feel like most people are very accepting of others--despite where they come from. These little things that I encounter here make me almost resentful--I guess I'm in the second stage. They say there are four stages to living in a different place, and each stage lasts different amounts of time depending on the person. The first stage is euphoria, which is excitement about everything because it's beautiful and new. The second stage is irritation and hostility. As you begin to notice more and more things that are different to you, you get frustrated. Apparently the symptoms are homesickness, withdrawal, etc. I wouldn't say I'm hostile haha but definitely irritated! I'm enjoying it here and I know this stage is temporary as I adjust! Which leads to stage three. The third stage is gradual adjustment. Your attitude towards the country and its customs improve and the cultural differences don't seem as important. As you get more comfortable, you become less isolated. I feel like I'm partially in this stage, as I become more and more confident taking the bus by myself, knowing when to get off and where I'm going. That makes me feel really good! The final stage is adaptation, when you have accepted this new way of living and feel confident in it. I know I'll make it to the final stage, maybe sooner because I'm already half way haha! I'm very blessed to be here and whenever I feel irritated or get frustrated, I remind myself that I'm living in ENGLAND! That's amazing! How many people do I know will ever get to say they've lived in a different country? Not many! So every time I have a negative thought or feeling, I will counter it with positivity, because that's what I do :) Haha! In the meantime, if you could pray for me in this stage, I would greatly appreciate it!

I'm currently inside of Starbucks, a universal thing I can appreciate :) Haha! I finally registered my card so I can start getting rewards and become a gold member this year haha! First world problems...ha! I get to watch the bachelor tonight!! Always the best part of my week haha love indulging in superficial things! Also trying out the Mission Burrito mexican place for lunch to see what Brits do with Mexican food haha! I'll update on that as it will be my only way to fill my chipotle fix while I'm here since London isn't super close. Anyways, back to working on my Shakespeare paper!

Have a wonderful day!
-K

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mondays

Monday is usually a rough transition. I love sleeping in on the weekends usually so it can be hard to get back into the week. I had planned on waking up at nine this morning to go to starbucks or a library and work, but I definitely turned my alarm off and woke up at ten instead :) Haha! But it's okay! I've been reading and working all day at my desk instead, which is nice and peaceful as well! It's so quiet in our house! Everyone else is probably at the library. I've never been a person to work at the library though. I love libraries! But the dead silence actually distracts me and makes me MORE A.D.D haha so I'm in my room alone, listening to my jams, and outlining my paper (which by the way is on the significance of children and babies in Macbeth--kind of a downer haha!). It's been a pretty productive day! My paper isn't due until Thursday afternoon but I want to be done by tomorrow night so I can get a head start since next week I'll also have my Jane Austen tutorial in addition to Shakespeare and need to get to reading Pride and Prejudice! I'm trying to be diligent about managing my time and it's going pretty well!

This weekend was great! A big group of us went into London on Saturday and saw all of the tourist attractions, and then a few girls and I saw the Phantom of the Opera (at its original theatre might I add!) and it was AMAZING! I definitely cried! As my nana says of the phantom, "he really loved her!" And that was all I could think about as he played the little monkey music maker and cried as Christine went away with Raul :( Haha so sad!!! Thank goodness for Amanda, my friend here from Biola, who is also as crazy as me and sympathizes with unhealthy/disturbed individuals haha! Yesterday I slept until noon (we didn't get back from London until 1am and we had walked about nine miles all day so I was exhausted!).

Oh! Exciting news! Yesterday I ordered save-the-dates for my WEDDING! Ahhh!! So exciting! There were some deals on shutterfly that I needed to take advantage of so I got that taken care of! My mom and Jamie have graciously volunteered to address them (love you guys! you are the best haha!). Because it's a "destination wedding" (although most people would not consider Montana this haha), they need to go out about 8-10 months before the wedding so people can make travel plans and what not so I'd say in the next two months those will be sent out :) They are so cute! I love them and can't wait for all of our family and friends to see them!

Tonight, I'm making my mexican casserole (or attempting with whatever products I can find here) for my food group. There are five girls in my food group, meaning Sunday-Thursday one of us each night will prepare dinner for the rest of us. It's super nice for time/money purposes! And to make sure we're getting the right nutrients because I guess one term a guy got sick from living off of pb&j sandwiches haha! Well, I should get back to working on my paper before I had to the store in a bit! I'll update again later in the week when :)

Love,
K

Friday, January 11, 2013

As It Were...

Hello all!
I hope everything is going great back in the States! I've compiled a little list of "things" for you today :)

Things I'm missing:
Joshua/Family/Heidi, Target, ranch dressing, Jamie's amazing hair straightener haha! It's only been a week but those are the things I'm missing!

Things I keep hearing: 
"As it were" (which I believe means "as a matter of fact"...still trying to make sense of it/get up the courage to use it in a sentence haha), "Brilliant", "Lovely", etc. I love how each place has their own slang. So interesting to me!

Things I'm excited about: 
London/Chipotle/Phantom of the Opera tomorrow...yay! I'm also excited because I feel like I've found who will be my core people! Again, I know it's only been a week but it was hard to even find a few people that were like me in the beginning and I was feeling pretty lonely. Don't get me wrong, everyone here is nice and smart, however I need more than academics to complete me haha! I need sanity, a superficial release of sorts (hence the bachelor, twitter, shopping, pinterest, etc.)! I'd like to think I'm a good blend of smart and superficial (and this is why Heidi is my best friend!!) haha :) Learner was my top strength according to a test I took at APU so I get the desire to be studying, but the majority of people here are just so intensely focused that it makes me a little stressed to be honest. I've never been around a house full of people who just read all the time haha! I know it's Oxford and academics are important, but I could study all day/all week at home in the States! I did NOT come to ENGLAND to sit inside all day haha! So that leads me to my next exciting point...traveling! I initially told my mom and Jamie that it was going to be a lot of studying and I'd be inside all the time and they both said, "No! You will not be inside all day! You're going places!" So, I took this motto hahaha and found a few girls who agreed that although we all would like and will aim for A's, a C would also be completely acceptable because 1. It's frickin Oxford, the second best school in the world (according to a recent study haha) and 2. We need to explore while we can! I'm so thrilled to have made friends with such fun girls who are like me and laugh! It's very stress-relieving to know I'm not alone :) We have decided to switch off weekends for locations that are nearby with ones that are further away based on our tutorials (every other week we have two tutorials instead of one, so the weeks where we have just finished two, we will go further away so we don't have to stress out!) Here is what we have planned or are working on thus far: 1. London tomorrow! 2. We're spending the day in Bath next Saturday! It's about a two hour bus ride! That's where the Jane Austen centre is! Woop woop! See, we can be nerds too! 3. Paris the following weekend!!! Ahhhh! This is exciting haha! Not many people go that far on weekends, but it's a very short plane ride (less than 2 hours I believe) and we will just be gone for Saturday-Sunday! The rest of the weekends are in progress, with the exception of spring break! We found a groupon deal for a 3 night stay and flights to Venice for 110 pounds per person which is AMAZING! We're planning on doing it, but we'll see if we find any other deals that look more appealing :)

Things that sadden me:
Every time I log onto some social network and even in conversations, I see/hear people complaining about "everyone getting engaged/married." I honestly hear more people complaining about people getting engaged/married than people actually getting engaged! It makes me really sad how people view marriage today. It's something that they see as ruining their future almost, like it interferes with all of their desires and hopes. It is the complete opposite, however our society wants you to think otherwise. They want you to think that you must accomplish everything you dreamed of before you can commit yourself to one person for the rest of your life, they want you to "live while you can", and they don't want you to be "tied down." Well, I'm calling it...that is selfish and sad! God made marriage as a perfect unity that represents the marriage of Christ and the Church...it should be beautiful! People should be THRILLED to get a glimpse at what that love and commitment looks like! However so many people have bought into the lie that it takes away more than it benefits. God wants us to experience life together! How much more fulfilled will I be getting to share my dreams and accomplishments (along with trials and hardships!) with Josh! I get teary-eyed just thinking about how exciting it will be to have him as my life partner and to be able to do life together! So you want to go to grad school, travel, be successful, reach a certain position in a career, etc. What do ANY of those things have to do with marriage? I don't see how they'd interfere at all. I'm not telling everyone to go out and find anyone to marry. All I'm saying is that if you have found the one "whom your soul loves" and know this person is the person you want to do forever with, why in the world should anyone try to discourage such a beautiful and God given gift?! Is it jealousy? Insecurity? I don't know what makes people so upset about engagements but I am so excited for any couple who is embarking on such a wonderful thing! If people really want to complain about "everyone getting engaged/married", they're letting their own internal conflicts lead them to hating on something God created and intended. Maybe that will change their attitude on an amazing thing! :)

Well, that about recaps my day haha! I'm off to watch "The Holiday" with some girls! I will update on Sunday after our wonderful day in London tomorrow :)

Love,
Kaylee

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Orientation Week

It's been a full week of orientation and it's only Wednesday night. As most of us can agree, orientation for anything is usually quite dry and boring haha, so has been the case this week. But it was all important stuff that needed to be said, so in that sense I'm thankful! Despite the week being a little dull being filled with orientation from 9:30-3:30 each day, there have been some eventful things happening and I have some stories to share!

First off, I don't remember if I mentioned the whole bike thing in my last post, so I will go over that quickly. About 35 of us in the program live in the house (called "The Vines") that's about a 35 minute bike ride from the city centre of Oxford. The other 15 students are lucky enough to be a 5 minute walk from the city centre (although our house is AMAZING and I actually prefer living here than in a dorm again haha). Because of this distance, all of us in the house were able to "hire a bike" free of charge (hire = British for rent) by the program. Since everything since Saturday has been at the hall that's a 35 minute bike ride away, the 35 of us have been getting in some great work outs. Let me tell you, these hills mean business. On the way, it's all straight or down. However, when you are coming back in the dark (they don't believe in lights here haha) and have to go up all kinds of hills, it's just a mess! Besides these issues, there's the biking system here in Oxford. There are bike lanes next to the cars, where we the bikers are supposed to ride (even stopping at traffic lights and turning with cars/buses). This goes against everything I was taught in America (go the opposite direction of traffic so you see them/they see you). Also, Oxford is a huge bus city! There are buses going all the time. Strangely, someone decided a bike lane would fit well next to the bus lane. So, between the burning, the dark sketchy path, and the terrifying bike lane rules (you are not allowed to bike on the sidewalk...you WILL be ticketed!!!), I was feeling a little nervous. But then the director of our program enhanced this feeling by telling us stories. For example, one girl in a term had never returned home and hadn't contacted anyone. The next morning, the director called the hospitals to see if she might be there. It turned out she had fallen off her bike and had short-term amnesia so she wasn't able to remember who or where she was. In a recent term, 13 students were injured in bike related incidents. In ONE term. So, after all of these things combined, I made a decision--BUS PASS! A few other girls in my house had already bought a 13 week bus pass (which is conveniently exactly how long we are here for) for 120 pounds and had been telling me about them yesterday. I decided that this would be the safest option, not only because of my fear for biking in this crazy bike land, but because I'll be having a lot of late nights researching/writing at a library and won't want to make the trek home alone in the dark. I wasn't planning on spending that money on a bus pass, but I feel very good about that decision! I can get on two different bus companies with my pass and get ALL around Oxford (there's actually a bus stop right at the corner of the lane my house is on)! I'm ready to explore all of Oxford now!

As today was the last day of orientation, a few girls and I decided to walk around Oxford a bit (but we first had to make a stop so one other girl could buy her bus pass too...it's the new trend haha). We got her bus pass and then stopped at a pasty place (West Cornwall Pasty Company...there are 75 locations in the UK!) we had been hearing about. I had never heard of a "cornish pasty", but now I will never forget haha! It's like a pastry with the inside of a pot pie! They had all kinds of flavors! The man watched as we struggled (my face probably looked very confused) and asked us if we'd had a pasty before and when we said no, he took one out and gave it to us to try for free! What a nice man!! Or maybe he was just overly confident that we would buy one after trying haha! Either way, I will definitely be back! After that yummy snack, we went into this shopping area which has all kinds of stores, including an amazing clothing store called Primark. They had great prices, however nothing I thought worth buying (this time haha). But I did find a water bottle that was 2 pounds so I went to buy it and they young guy who rang me up said, "You're from America! I can tell because you're so happy! I love Americans!" He said this before I even spoke!! It made me smile so big! I love that one's joy can bring happiness to others. Although my joy isn't from America, it's from God :) But of course I have noticed that compared to Americans, British lack the same friendly gene haha. Not all! Don't mean to stereotype! Just an observation!

Thursday and Friday will be filled with reading and researching! I'm meeting my primary tutor at a pub tomorrow to figure out what we will discuss for our first meeting next week (and when we will be meeting next week!) And I should probably start reading Pride and Prejudice to get a little ahead haha! It's a little strange being in a house with 35 Oxford students. You would think it would be quite loud! However, most of the time I feel like everyone left me here because it's so quite! But no, they are all quietly reading! So different from living on a college campus! However last night I had lots of fun watching the bachelor with three girls! I found some who would stoop down to my level! So lucky haha!

On Saturday, one of the coordinators of our program (Simon), is taking us into London for the day! He's very smart and has obviously been in London a lot so he'll be showing us around all day. But later, a few girls and I are planning on seeing The Phantom of the Opera at its ORIGINAL theatre (Her Majesty's Theatre). I AM SO EXCITED! I saw the musical in Minneapolis with my madre a few years ago and thought that was amazing so I'm sure this will be outstanding! Trying to pack some fun in before the crazy tutorials take over my life haha!

As much work as everyone makes it out to be, this really sounds like the way all universities should be run. They tell us not to write "attention grabbers" or a thesis in our intro because that's pointless...and I agree! They want us to say in the intro what we will be researching and they don't want a thesis because they want us to come to an opinion based on our research, rather than decide something and research it. They don't want us to hide behind what others think or have said, they genuinely want to know what we think! To think that all that I've ever been taught about essay writing never actually showed my own opinion is so strange!! I'm already amazed and the term hasn't even started haha! I can't wait to see the growth I make as a student and a writer! I will of course be updating as that comes along and after this weekend :)

Love,
Kaylee

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Imagine...

What a full day I've had! Let me paint you a picture :)

Imagine you sleep in until noon (oops, still getting over jet lag perhaps?) and you get ready, go down to the kitchen/dining room where about eight of your fellow housemates are eating together. Imagine you then go and make a peanut butter and honey sandwich (you didn't know where the jelly was). After eating your sandwich, sipping your coffee, and discussing a variety of different subjects with your housemates, you decide it's time to get some fresh air. So, you walk outside and grab your bike. You head left down Pullens Lane and continue down, trying to remember which way you had gone the night before when a returning student had showed you the way into the city. After trial and error, you figure out which direction you need to be going, but realize you really don't mind if you get lost because it is so beautiful and you are in England. So you continue on and things look more and more familiar, leaving you with a sense of accomplishment. After riding for a while, you wind up in part of the University Parks, a path that was frequented by C.S. Lewis. You stop and take some photos because it is so beautiful.




After getting back on your bike, you continue on until you are out of the park and into more of the city. You ride past beautiful buildings, mostly which are related to University of Oxford, and stop to take more pictures.





After you're done stopping (again), you decide you've captured enough photos to be a normal tourist before crossing the line to being the obnoxious tourist so you get back on your bike and continue. You still have time before you are to be at Wycliffe Hall for tea time so you decide to ride into the City Centre and explore for a bit. After almost dying from the crazy bike lanes and not exactly knowing where you are to ride, you park your bike and lock it so you can wander around. You wind up coming across a pastry shop and buy a cinnamon looking pastry (it's delicious). You then head back to your bike and ride to Wycliffe Hall. After drinking tea and mingling with other students in the program for about an hour, you are invited to a night service at Christ Church. You decide to go because you hear it's beautiful (people weren't lying). 
You sit through the service (that is all sung), staring around at the beautiful and old building, in complete awe of the architecture and the voices singing to God. After the service, you and a few other students decide to head to the famous pub called "The Eagle and Child", where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien met with other authors to discuss writing and what not.
You order fish & chips and cider, because you're in England and that's what you do.
You have great fun with new friends, even if you get lost on the way home, because it's beautiful and you're in England :)
This was my wonderful day! I'm feeling so blessed to be here and experience such wonderful things, and it's only been two days! Wow! I look forward to all of the experiences I will gain from this amazing opportunity! :)

Love you all!

-Kaylee


Saturday, January 5, 2013

And So It Begins!

Hello all!

I'm typing this from my amazing room in my amazing house (called "The Vines") on Pullens Lane in Oxford, England! (Doesn't that even sound cute?? Haha!)

(The front view of my house! I think there are about thirty of us students in this house!)
(The view from my window--this is the side yard!)
(My side of the room! There are four beds in our room, but only three people! We have a couch--the red one right there--that's viewing the window! So great!)
(Pullens Lane! Walk about 5 minutes down and you're on a busy road called London Rd.)
(Hehe! Just discovered this!)

It was quite the trip getting here! I left from Minneapolis on Thursday at 12:30pm, arrived in D.C. at around 4pm (Eastern time). We all were seated on the huge plane, ready to take off to London, when they announced to us that it appeared the engine was on fire (it wasn't actually, it's sort of like when your engine light randomly turns on in your car). However, when that light goes on, you don't want to drive your car. So was the case with our plane. You can imagine how thrilled I was to hear such news (flying anxiety). But I prayed, thanked God that this had been noticed BEFORE we were over the ocean, etc. I had friends/family praying for me too as this news really stressed me out. We had to wait to be "taxied" back to a gate, where we didn't know what would happen. They explained a lot of us might have to wait in D.C. for hours. Once we were all off the plane though, they announced that they in fact had an extra plane (the SAME exact plane) PTL! I was SO relieved!

So we left two hours later than we had planned but still arrived in the morning in London (at around 9:45am). I only slept for about 25 minutes on the plane but kept myself entertained with the movie selections they had and by listening to the two little boys next to me talk who had adorable little British accents :) Haha! After getting through customs, I dragged all of my luggage across the airport and somehow made it to the central bus station where I bought my bus ticket to Oxford (Josh, you were right! I was 3 pounds off haha so I had to use my card!) When I found the right bus, I got on and slept! It took about an hour to get to my stop! The driver was so helpful when I had told him it was my first time in England! I love people...and accents!! :)

So I got off and walked across the street to Pullens Lane and walked about five minutes down the cute little lane to my home! I think I got there around 1pm. I brought my stuff up to my room and kind of just took it all in. I was so exhausted from all of the thinking/lack of sleep. I went downstairs to meet about eight other students that had arrived before me to be polite, however then I went right back upstairs and slept for four hours before we had a quick little meeting and prep for dinner.

By the time we sat down for dinner at around 7pm, I realized that the only time I had eaten that day was when I had a little croissant on the plane at 7am. Strange how travel and lack of sleep throws everything off haha! I ate a lot of pasta and salad :) After that, I came upstairs and unpacked and then went to bed (around 9:30pm) and woke up at 9am! I could've slept longer (my bed is SO comfy!) but I thought it was about time to wake up and get out!

Soooo I got ready, put my coat on, and walked for about 30 minutes. I found a coffee shop (Costa, which is like the Starbucks of England! It's everywhere!) and got a vanilla latte for 2.30 pounds (I still don't get the conversion rate but I'm thinking that was an okay price haha). Sadly, I've been spoiled with my campfire and turtle mochas from Caribou Coffee because the latte I bought here tasted like there was no sugar in it at all :( But, I drank it because I need my coffee :) Haha!

The weather is PERFECT here! 50 degrees and cloudy :D It's like a dream haha! I didn't even need my coat! I love it! We're having a little house meeting in a bit and then a BBQ and getting our bikes later in the afternoon! Tea time is at 4pm :) I love it here so much! I can see myself wanting to stay forever haha! I can't wait to explore more and get into my studies (did I just say that? I might regret that later...actually, I know I will haha!) Anyways, I will keep updating! However the first few days will just be filled with orientation so there won't be too much to write about! Miss all my friends and family already! BUT there are many adorable bed and breakfasts within a 10 minute walk of my house if you want to visit ;) Hehe!

Love,

Kaylee

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tomorrow is the day!

Tomorrow is the day I make my journey to Oxford! Ahhhh! I can't believe that it's here! I feel like I've been talking about what this would be like and daydreaming for months and now it's here. Even after being home for the past almost three weeks and spending the last couple of days with Josh here too, I'm not feeling emotionally prepared, but then again how can you prepare for something fully when you have no idea what to expect? I am so excited for all of the memories and experiences that I will gain from this journey! I've never been so excited for anything in my life! I love how independent I'm feeling. Going to school in California and leaving my family has definitely helped pave the way, but this is something I never thought I would do. I'm pushing myself and I love how that makes me feel! I appreciate all the thoughts and prayers as I embark on this life changing adventure! I vow to keep up on this blog, post photos, special memories, etc. :)

In case you're wondering, my flight leaves at 12:30pm from Minneapolis, and I will land in D.C. I leave for London from D.C. at 6:40pm and will arrive in London 8 hours later (at around 6:55am (London time). I'll then take a bus to Oxford and after getting through customs and what not I'll probably arrive to my beautiful home for the semester at around 9:30am (which is 6 hours ahead of Minnesota time and 8 hours ahead of California time). If you would keep me in your prayers, I would greatly appreciate it. If you know me, you know I don't like flying haha!

The next time I'll post will be in England! :) Keep checking back for updates!

Love,

Kaylee