The second years just had Halfway Hall, an Oxford tradition which indicates that half of their university experience has passed. So, that means that half of my Oxford experience has passed, too. So, you ask (not), how has it been??
Well, football is GREAT. It finally snowed this week (!!!!!! I knew I missed the snow, but I didn’t know quite how much until now! but the Brits complain about it as always…to be honest it is kind of March-in-Vermont like snow, which melts quickly and isn’t properly cleaned up because they don’t know how to deal with it here), so football keeps getting cancelled. I didn’t realize until all these cancellations how much I LOVE playing. Not only for social reasons, but just the actual exercise is great. I’ve been going stir-crazy this week. Also, I got moved up to the Blues (the university first team)! I even got asked to play Varsity, which is the traditional rival match against Cambridge, but I’m not allowed to play because I’m not a matriculated student. I’m so sad!! I really wanted to play Cambridge and I can’t believe I almost had the opportunity! Oh well…I still get to do the Furies (second team) match against Cambridge’s second team, but it’s not the same. As for Mansfield football, I haven’t really been able to play much because the matches are basically over and I always have to work or to a tutorial during practice time.
That’s right – I’m still working at River Island. It’s just as horrifically boring as before, but I do need the extra money and at least I have other people to see/things to do now. Plus, it’s only five hours a week these days. FIVE SHIFTS LEFT. This past week was actually kind of great for once – the other people working there decided that it was Change Your Accent Day! The only accent I can manage is an English one, so I was – if I may say so – brave enough to try it. I’M PRETTY SURE I FOOLED EVERYONE. IT WAS GREAT. There was an awkward moment where I told a guy I didn’t know the area TOO well because I was only a university student and didn’t live in Oxford – and then he asked where I was from and I said “Oxford – I mean north Oxford! Countryside! Bletchingdon!” Oops. WHATEVER. I’m pretty sure he still believed me.
Pretty much the only other thing I do is academics…which is going pretty seamlessly this term. I actually have far less work this time around than last, because I have NO reading. I’m doing creative writing for my primary tutorial and then European cinema for my secondary. Naturally, creative writing freaks the crap out of me because I’m working on The Story, but it’s going SO WELL. I have never gotten better grades here…I’m getting a very solid first, and he consistently tells me that my writing is perfect in several different ways. I wouldn’t believe him if my advising tutor hadn’t said he sometimes practically fails people. It’s pretty great, and I do feel like I’m learning a lot about the writing process, and about my story. I still literally cower behind my hands when he reads it out loud, though, and sometimes put my head on my desk. Terrifying. Oh also, I’ve decided that I don’t love writing either in my room or the library, so I’ve found a cafe to work at. It’s really small and cozy with two upstairs rooms and a fireplace (unlit) in each. The floor slants and there are wooden beams in the ceiling, and they make amazing caramel shortbreads and smoothies. It’s great, and when I’m a famous writer people will say “Ariana McSweeney started writing her book here”. Obviously.
As I said, my other tutorial is European cinema. I’ve only had two so far, but it’s also going very well. My tutor is cool and he seems to like me and my work, and watching movies instead of reading is always fun, if not particularly meaningful to me.
Oh, I almost forgot – but how could I – about the Harry Potter Society! There are biweekly movie showings – we’ve only watched the first two so far, but we’ll watch all by the end of the year. It’s great seeing the older ones again for the first time in a while, and they’re really inspirational for writing. Plus I always end up crying or tearing up out of joy because that’s just what Harry Potter does to me. CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IS SO IMPORTANT. IT TELLS US THE SIMPLEST, MOST IMPORTANT VALUES OF ALL. Anyway, I also got sorted in a real (?) sorting ceremony! I’m a Slytherin, duh. There was even butterbeer and a Harry Potter-themed pub quiz. It was, as Ron would say, “bloody brilliant”. Also, the society has organized a group trip to Leavesden Studios in London, where some of the films were shot. YESSSSS.
I’ve been hanging out a bit with the Radwans too, which is always great. Khalil even brings me baked goods now. Win.
Aside from hanging out with Priya, the rest of my time is normally spent freaking out about/planning for the future. I’m trying to figure out a way to stay here this summer. A girl from the football team, Rosie, and I are thinking of travelling together this summer, which would be great. I’m also applying for a month-long job at an academic summer camp here in Oxford, and a week-long internship with a Cambridge psychiatrist. Plus, I’ve got a BRILLIANT Easter break planned – I’m finally going to visit Chatsworth House (i.e. Mr. Darcy/the Duchess of Devonshire’s house), I’m going to see Asiyla in Barcelona for a few days, and then I’m going to spend almost a month WWOOFing in Ireland, living in the gatehouse of a marquess’s castle. I’m really looking forward to it! My host family has two small children and two dogs…can’t wait for the dogs.
Dana will be visiting me a week from Saturday, which I’m sure will be great!! That’ll probably be my next post. I miss all of you guys! Who knows, maybe I’ll even come back to America some day…
P.S. I feel like I should include an English cultural comment here. The English FREAK OUT in a very NOT reserved way if you break any kind of rule. As my American tutor says “if you’re on fire they’ll ignore you”, but if you cycle on a non-cycling street, a complete stranger will come up to you and tell you to stop. Hmmm.
P.P.S. WOAH look how short this post is!