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Getting Settled In & Guy Fox Day

It is about time, now that I’m 5 weeks into the IFSA Butler study abroad England program, but I think I’m finally settling in and figuring out how to get work done and learn here in Oxford.

Last weekend there was a fireworks presentation in South Parks to celebrate Guy Fox Day. The funny thing about Guy Fox Day is that he is something of an anti-hero, and its not really clear why the Brits celebrate him. Guy Fox apparently tried to blow up Parliament sometime around the reformation or the British civil war. However his plot was uncovered and parliament was preserved (only to be destroyed within a few years and replaced with Big Ben and the Westminster Abbey that are now so iconic). Anyway, it is hard to tell whether the Brits are celebrating that he got caught or the spirit of his plot. And apparently, this doesn’t matter too much. The more important thing is that there are lots of fireworks and a huge bonfire. This huge bonfire is really what separates it from other national holidays that include fireworks, and it is pretty cool. The fire at last weekend’s celebration was created by stacking shipping pallets about 30 feet into the air in a giant horseshoe around a huge wooden Roman soldier, which was lit first with blow torches on the end of 8-foot poles. I could feel the heat of the flames from more than 150 feet away. The weather was a little crummy and the ground exceptionally muddy. I realized when I got back to my room that I could have watched the whole thing for free from the comfort of my apartment. Oh yea. It cost 6 pounds too. Its good to get out for a bit though.

Last weekend I also got a huge head start on my reading for this week. I read 3 Harold Pinter plays and watched Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet, which is quickly becoming my favorite movie. This week I realized again that I really am enjoying my decision to study in England, and that it really is amazing. I discovered “The Arden Shakespeare CD-ROM,” which allows you to examine the full text of all of Shakespeare’s plays while simultaneously looking at the commentary and editorial variations as well as facsimiles of all of the oldest copies that we have of the Shakespeare texts. It is also portable, unlike most Shakespeare resources. Please forgive my nerdiness here, but being able to look at Shakespeare like this basically allows me to appreciate what Shakespeare not only meant for people in his own time, but what has meant for the last 400 years, and subsequently what he means today, which is the most persistent question in my tutorials.

Wednesdays are quickly becoming my favorite days. They generally mean a lot of work through the morning finishing my essay, but then there is this incredible endorphin rush after I turn the essay in at three pm. And then in the evenings, I treat myself to Teddy Hall’s formal hall, which means getting dressed up with my academic gown and heading over to hall for a four course meal that includes a little wine. This week’s formal included salmon, and that made it extra special for me, because I love salmon so much.

This weekend will be filled to the brim with preparing for next week, another even week. There is also a college talent show called Teddy Hall’s Got Talent, that I am trying to go to (if I can get my work done). It should be amazing. I believe my secondary tutor, Alastair, is going to be doing a poetry reading. That’s the rumor anyway. We’ll find out tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

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3 Responses to “Getting Settled In & Guy Fox Day”

  1. Troy McIntosh Says:

    Owen, I’ve loved following along. Just wondering if they play four-square on that side of the pond?

  2. Owen Says:

    I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the reading. I am enjoying the writing of it. There isn’t too much bare asphalt over here on which to play four square. Generally if it’s asphalt, its a busy road and is therefore covered with people, bicycles, busses, and cars all going places. I don’t think they even have parking lots. There may be one on the other side of Oxford, near the train station. I would play on grass, but they also tend not to let us walk on the grass. The lawns are pretty much manicured and the private property of the colleges. There are serious repercussions for those who tread upon the greens. So there isn’t too much four square. I’m sure there is a club for it somewhere though, and they probably have a court in the back nook of some college somewhere. Nonetheless, I’ll look into it.

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