Monthly Archives: May 2018

nostalgia in the midst of experience

Currently listening to:

instagram – blue.D cover

the perfect song for a lazy, wistful day,

where you’re already feeling nostalgic

for a city you’re still living in ♪ ٩( ´ω` )و ♪


Memories made for myself.

Memories made with friends I love,

as beautiful and evanescent as a breeze,

fluttering through a silk curtain.

Memories that will stay with me long after my stay at Oxford is over 🙂

Walking past Westgate, a shopping center at the heart of Oxford,

I saw that someone had set up an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque playground for kids,

complete with croquets and shiny little balls.

Could there be anything quite so Oxford?

Weather that calls for constant picnics.

We celebrated my friend Jess’s birthday by sitting on the grass in University Parks,

eating sandwiches, and sipping elderflower soda,

while Lou attempted a few card tricks that left us unexpectedly impressed.

The next day, I had another picnic with my friend Katie,

writing essays under the hot blaze of the suddenly bold sun.

Sometimes, the mere kiss of wind on your skin, the stir of spring through your hair,

is enough to make you feel acutely alive. Acutely happy.

I wish we had taken photographs that day, but it was also one of those moments

that don’t need to be captured so much as lived, and remembered, and cherished…

May your days be as full of mellow sunshine as we enjoyed that day, Jess 🙂

On a whim, I peeked into Oxford’s Museum of Modern Art the other day by myself.

They had an exhibition on the forces that shape and destabilize our ideas of home,

labor, equality, and the construction and deconstruction of cherished ideals.

Disorder. Chaos. Materials for building scattered about like trash.

It left me with a feeling of deep sadness, although it was also very challenging.

Is there any way we can use the small and breakable lives we are given,

to build up, instead of causing disorder and disarray in a planet already splitting apart? 🙁

Lou, Jess, and I went to The Bear, a lovely old pub from the 13th century,

tucked away in a corner of Oxford. According to urban legend,

the pub is called “The Bear” because it used to have a hollow pit in the ground

where dogs and bears would fight while noblemen watched and placed bets. Hmm…

A little grisly, but the food was good, so I ate without moral compunction.

For two hours or more we launched into a fervent discussion of Harry Potter,

in which we began sorting everyone we knew into their respective houses.

I am, by all counts and preferences, a Ravenclaw.

“It just feels so right,” Lou said, laughing,

“that we’re sitting in a pub built hundreds of years ago, at Oxford,

sorting people into magical houses. Like it couldn’t be any other way.”

I couldn’t help but agree.

This week, my love affair with Blackwell’s Bookshop has reached an unconscionable extent.

Against my better judgment, my afternoons always end with my swerving into the bookshop,

drifting slowly around the mounds of beautiful paperbacks, picking up a random novel,

and getting (oh, deliciously) lost.

I’ve been reading almost a novel a day, and am so much the happier for it! 🍒

Rereading “My Name is Lucy Barton,” a novel by one of my favorite writers of all time

(Elizabeth Strout),

I nearly sobbed aloud in public.

Her writing never fails to be quietly, wrenchingly, unexpectedly moving,

conjuring deep warmth without unnecessary drama,

tugging at the heartstrings so quietly you don’t notice until all of your walls have come down.

Back at my dormitory, working on my homework.

Reading McEwan’s descriptions of London protests while in England.

Thinking about our small outcry of free will against the looming backdrop of fate.

Was it fate that brought me to this city (or Fate with a capital F, as my tutor likes to say)?

It feels like it. It feels like I was meant to experience this place.

It feels, not as if I’ve worked my way here, but like a gift:

Spontaneous. Surprising at every turn.

Night falls slowly over Oxford, washing the pale old buildings with liquid blue.

Oh, how I love my days here.

How I love this life, wandering among mazes of book after book.

Goodnight, Oxford ✨

Goodnight. ✨

Goodnight ! ✨

spring, and…



안녕하세요 !

Hello everyone! It’s me, Esther. Long time no see 🙂

It’s been two weeks since I’ve returned to Oxford,

and the city has clothed itself in new splendor during my absence…


The meadow behind my dormitory, which had been russet-colored,

flat, and gray, is awake and laughing with a thousand

dancing tulips and flowers.

The bare, spindly trees I had never given a second thought to

blossomed suddenly with a flood of white cherry blossoms.


During my time in Korea, I’ve been thinking a lot about

how moments pass by so quickly –

those fleeting, ungraspable, shining experiences

that make up this short and painful, sometimes lovely life.

I want to focus more on living those moments,

rather than capturing and reinventing them.

Sometimes we get so busy trying to construct a narrative

out of what we’ve been given, we fail to cherish those moments,

so complete and entire in themselves…


So, my posts this term might be more haphazard,

medleys of pieced memories rather than finished pieces,

glimpses of photographs rather than continuous videos.

But they’ll still be here, and they’ll keep coming

until my time at Oxford is over!

The Philosophy and Theology Faculty Library!

I always admired its beauty as I walked past it,

but my philosophy major friend got me to actually peek into it.

My postcards to my parents in Korea

(and my professor in America)

safely arrived! My mom had been feeling pretty sick,

but she said she’d been cheered up by my letter,

so it made my day, too 😀

Fresh strawberries from Gloucester Green,

a farmer’s market fifteen minutes away from my dorm, hehe

(*´◡`​*) feeling glowy and content

because milk tea and intermittent warm weather.

every day should always be so happy~


This week I’ve been writing a lot of poetry.

There was this one afternoon

where I was browsing through Blackwell’s bookshop,

sipping tea and looking at The New Yorker, and then, a quotation by

Edwidge Danticat just hit me: “We cheat death every day.”

Or more literally, when translated from the Creole expression,

“We carry our coffins with us every day.”

Suddenly, a poem that had been simmering inside me

during my entire spring vacation in Korea,



I sat down hastily and began scribbling in a frenzy,

almost as if drunk, seizing flyers and advertisements

to scrawl on because I had no paper at hand.

By the end of the afternoon I had six pages of poetry,

spilling out of me like wild bees.


What a gift it is to write.

Isn’t it funny that so much of my writing

returns to Korea,

and yet I can never quite write when I’m in it?

Too busy living to be writing, maybe.

Too busy laughing and crying,

in a way I never do when I’m abroad.

I admire people who write for writing’s sake.

Who say poetry is all they need. These are the real poets.

For me, poetry pales in comparison to life.

Writing is only ever a substitute

to what it means to love the people around me.


In any case, usually when I write about Korea, or my family,

it’s only in retrospection.

It’s only when I step into another country

that I can pick up my pen, sit down alone,

and start writing about what it means to go home. 🌷