Pre-Departure Part 1
My predeparture post is a little bit different from the others because I have actually already left home, but with just under a month before I leave for London for my orientation to Oxford University, I am still “pre-departure.” Can you tell I was on the debate team last spring?
So where have I been, what is happening now and what happens next? These are the three questions that I have been asking myself.
I just finished my second summer working for The American School In Switzerland. I worked as a counselor for the middle school program, helping students from all over the world practice their English. Working in Switzerland is one kind of international experience, but it has made making arrangements for my studies in Oxford, which will be a completely different kind of international experience, a little stressful.
For example, before leaving the States, it occurred to me that it would probably be better to have my Visa for England than to leave without it. This intuition was correct, but it meant that I had to do some leg work to get all the paperwork in order early. And then I was sending my passport away in the mail 2 weeks before I was supposed to leave for Switzerland. You can imagine my relief when I heard that I had been approved within 3 days and that my passport was back a full week in advance of my departure. Whew.
It was also a little hard to pack my bags in June knowing that I would not return till December. What is a person supposed to take? What does a person need at a place like Oxford? Fortunately, I already had the basic guides from Butler and my previous summer in Switzerland to help me plan. I still packed too much. I think. I might be glad for the extra sweater and dress clothes when I get to Oxford. Or they might be in a box that I mail home when I get to England.
So where am I now? I just finished a tour of Turkey with several friends from Switzerland. It was an incredible experience except for the fact that being a tourist is actually quite a bit of work and involves spending quite a bit of money. But I was blown away by the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofya, and Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, which according to Wikipedia is the world’s 3rd largest city. It was amazing to watch ferries fly through the Bosphorous as heavy freight chugged along slowly. After dark, the boats become invisible except for their lights, which glisten off the choppy waters. I also got to see part of the US Coast Gard on its way to the conflict in Georgia. It was incredibly stimulating to be so near the activity on the world stage. The conflict loomed heavily over many conversations with people in Hostels, guides on boats, and even among the friends I was traveling with. The highlight of the trip was relaxing in the Mediteranean on a gulet cruise from Demre to Fethiye off the southwestern corner of country.
I also learned, after two overnight-bus rides across the Anatolyan Plateau that Turkey is a HUGE country with roads that need all current improvements and much more.
So where am I now? I am sitting at the Chateau de St. Albain in France, where I plan to do the bulk of the remainder of my preparation for Oxford. At Oxford, I will be studying Shakespeare and modern British drama. I am nervous about this because while I enjoy Shakespeare and the depth of his plays, they are exceedingly difficult to read. It will be a moderately lonely month, but I think that it is what I need to get the longer plays, particularly the histories, under my belt. Not to mention the fact that the cost of mailing “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” back to the states would basically pay for my stay here.
So what happens next? Lots of reading. And catching up on the paperwork that I missed while I was in Turkey. And buying a plane/train ticket to England. And updating this blog. Thanks for reading.