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 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'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 :)


No comments:

Post a Comment