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Christmas Holidays Part Three: Working

THANK GOD!!!  IT’S OVER!!!!!

Yep, that’s pretty much how I feel about this portion of my break.  I got back to Oxford from Italy, and within a few hours I was going mad trying to figure out what I was going to do this whole time.  I didn’t come up with much, either.  Here was the general schedule of my day:

1. Wake up for work.  This meant either very little sleep because I had an early shift, or a very late wakeup because I went to sleep in the wee hours of the morning the night before and I had an afternoon shift that day

2. Grumble silently about how I never get to sleep in properly

3. Go to work, i.e. be tortured with boredom

4. Go home, buy crappy Sainsbury’s dinner and candy on way

5. Eat crappy dinner and candy while pestering best friends until they both Skype with me, interspersed with Facebook stalking and/or movie watching until I am too tired to be bored

6. Go to sleep at 3:00am even though I got out of work at about 6:00pm.

While there was a small part of me that enjoyed having work that wasn’t mentally taxing, having a very quiet dorm to myself, and having nothing to do, most of me was dying for SOME kind of significance – in what I was doing, in who I was talking to (in real life, so no offense to the people I Skyped), SOMETHING.

My actual job, for this kind of job, was in reality not that bad.  For those of you who don’t know, I worked at a clothing store called River Island.  I liked my bosses, the other people that work there were nice, the store had a good atmosphere and some cute clothes, I got a good discount, and I always had something to do.  I did a few different things like helping stock the deliveries and working in the fitting room, but the thing I usually did was the “rejects”, which means taking the clothes that people tried on and chose not to buy from the fitting rooms, and putting them back where they belong in the store.  The store was busy and big enough that this was usually quite time-consuming.  But none of this changed the fact that everything felt so pointless – I know you don’t take jobs like that to get satisfaction out of them, and I know I’m being really silly about this whole thing…it’s just that when I’m doing things that are so dull and mentally effortless I go crazy.  And then to go home to a nearly empty dorm, knowing that I had few friends in the country, made it worse.  Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s all passed dully and with only Skype conversations for socialisation.

But there were a few things that I did.

1. Priya – on one of my days off I took the Oxford Tube (which is a bus) to London to meet Priya.  We hung out at this huge fancy mall and saw Sherlock Holmes 2 (which was very good, if you’re interested).  Then she had to go, and I went into central London on my own to buy a pair of tights (it was a specific kind at a specific store only in London, okay?!) and to use my gift certificate at a bookstore that’s only in London.  The whole visit was cool because not only did I have fun, but it was the first time that I went to London NOT as a tourist.  It felt really nice.

2. The Radwans – I paid them a short visit one afternoon/evening, and then the next day we went to the Ashmolean Museum.  There was an exhibit on Egypt, and the Radwans had just gotten back from there.  To my surprise, Asiyla showed up at the museum!  She was visiting for a week from Spain.  It was really nice to see her, and we made plans to hang out later.  We ended up spending an afternoon and evening together talking, watching the BBC version of Sherlock Holmes (a TV show which is SO GOOD – obviously I’m getting a bit obsessed with Sherlock Holmes, I’ll have to read the books soon), and getting dinner at a really nice Thai restaurant.

I just want to interrupt this for a second to say that Camille (my French friend who is studying at the University of Edinburgh this year) is here and she has brought me macaroons from Paris.  I am dying of happiness eating them.  Must go to France ASAP.

Anyway.

3. The Dorset Coast – after Colleen (for those of you who don’t know, a girl from Kenyon who is studying in Exeter right now) and I both had extremely dull, lonely Christmases, we decided to meet up.  I decided that I really wanted to go to Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door because I hadn’t seen the English coast or the southwest, and this place would kill two birds with one stone.  Lulworth Cove is, well, a cove…and Durdle Door is a huge stone arch on what is known as the Jurassic Coast, a coastline with huge white cliffs.  Colleen and I met in a nearby town called Dorchester from which we had to get the bus to the cove, and as we had a few hours to spare before the bus left we got tea and scones and spent a while talking.  It was all great until we missed our bus, which stayed at the stop for like two seconds and left EARLY.  Colleen actually saw it, but right as she pointed it out it drove away.  This was a big problem because there is only one bus that goes to and from the coast every day, and I really didn’t want to waste the money that I’d spent on the train ticket.  So, after wandering around for a while, wondering what to do, we finally decided to take a taxi.  It was definitely worth it – the area was beautiful.  If you want to see pictures they are on Facebook.  We went to the bus station for the way back to Dorchester REALLY early.

Yesterday Colleen visited me here in Oxford.  I showed her the sites and we had a couple of great meals.  It was very fun!

6. Writing – for those of you who haven’t heard this, a few nights ago I FIGURED OUT THE PLOT TO MY STORY THAT I HAVE BEEN WORKING ON FOR TWO YEARS.  I literally cried when it happened.  There’s no point in attempting to convey how happy this made me.  And although I’m still nervous about showing my tutor my work next term, this has made me more confident.

I really can’t think of anything else of interest that I have done over the past couple of weeks.  It’s been kind of rough, or rather, too smooth.  I haven’t even been sleeping much because I’ve literally been too bored to go to sleep.  But now Camille has come to me from France, and we’re going to hang out in Oxford for a few days before going to Edinburgh!  There I will get to see various J.K. Rowling sights, and I will also visit Durham and St. Andrews which I have wanted to do for ages.  Next time I’ll bring news of all that!

P.S. Oh also, I still work at River Island!  They offered me a job that’s only five hours a week, which is perfect for me; it’ll bring in a little money, but take very little time away from my studying.  I do hate working there, but it’ll be better when it’s such a small amount of time and when I have other things to do/people to see.  They told me this, however, on what was supposed to be my “last day”, so I’d already made plans for this week and bought tickets to Scotland.  So now I have a permanent job AND a vacation!  Also, since many of the people that work at River Island are students, they’re used to having to work around academic schedules.  This means that as long as I don’t quit for more than six months at once, I’ll be able to leave and come back whenever I want to.  So, I’ll have much more money for travelling, hopefully!  Yay!

P.P.S. Despite how “hard” the last few weeks have been, I don’t regret staying here.  Even if it was in a sort of bad way, I feel like I have connected with my host country in a way that I wouldn’t have been able to experience otherwise.  I firmly believe that, in situations such as these, even negative experiences are important ones.

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