2/7/16 – I Am Home

Phew. Last post.

I am, perhaps appropriately, sitting in a Starbucks in West Portal (my neighborhood in San Francisco) to write this post. It’s no Café Nero at Blackwell’s, and I’m not surrounded by British accents and the smell of books, but it is a café, and it did require a 15 minute walk, so I’ll take it.

I read our Whitman OCS advisors’ tips about returning to home, and I was prepared for experiencing reverse culture shock, for realizing no one wants to hear about my experiences as much as I want to talk about them, for being unable to explain even when people do listen, and for that horrible feeling that the moment I land in San Francisco, the time I spent away is no more than a dream.

Those feelings have come, but being prepared for them has helped them to feel less intense. My roommate from Oxford stayed in the UK a week longer than I did, and I’ve been able to live vicariously through her a bit and remain connected, so the experience still feels real. I’ve also kept in touch with the friends I made better than I expected to (of course, it’s only barely been a week since I’ve been back, so it’s not saying that much).

There are feelings and memories and people from Oxford that I know that I have left behind, that I can’t bring with me now that I am back.

But there are other things that I found there that I can keep with me, although it’s going to take some work to keep myself from falling back into all of the same patterns.

I only just realized as I was walking here and thinking about writing this post that I haven’t felt the same sense of self-appreciation and confidence I often felt in Oxford, and that is something that I know I can hold on to and that I am determined to foster now that I’m home. I think it comes from being independent, from accomplishing goals, and from feeling authentic. That means I’m going to have to set myself some goals for the summer, make sure that I get out and do my own thing and am active on my own, and that I hold onto those parts of myself and the comfort I found with them while I was abroad.

There are 2 important things I think I need to do to as this experience comes to a close: the first, to remember and validate my experiences; the second, to ground myself in the reality of my present and set goals for myself so that I can maintain the positive changes I made while abroad in this old/new context of being home.

So for the rest of this post, I’m going to dedicate 100 words to memories of Oxford that I don’t want to forget, and 100 words to goals looking forward at the rest of the summer and the following school year.

Memories Made:

watching Harold and Maude with Sam for my birthday, everyone surprising me when I got back to the room, going out to the pub crawl at the beginning and feeling quite tipsy off cider, stepping into Blackwell’s for the first time, the long walk back from my tutorial in Summertown, dumplings at the Gloucester Green market, swimming in the Cherwell with Emma, watching Game of Thrones and Rick and Morty with Sam and Jack and then having a dance party just the three of us, talking to Lily for hours, high-fiving Jeong-Hwan on the way to tutorial and everything feeling better, walking in the park with Micayla conversation ranging from cannibalism to higher education, studying in the Bod for the first time and seeing Simone, picnic dinner in Port Meadow with Megan, Wednesday scaf bean burger night, getting back from Rome with Emily and the Magdalen bells ringing, Catweazle club, picking up Ben’s cookies to share– okay that’s over 100 words, need to stop for now.


do a little bit of creative writing every single day, read the Inda series, finish playing Bioshock and Borderlands, spend lots of time with my sister, find the best places to go out in the city, prepare plan for Watson fellowship, draft Fullbright application, visit New York, relish being able to make my own food and BAAAAKE (with an actual oven!), keep up a regular meditation practice, work out regularly and build up strength and endurance, enjoy and appreciate my body, be honest and open in my interactions with others, listen, visit Breakthrough and say hello to the kids I taught, practice driving so I feel more comfortable, do some sort of trip on my own, spend time at the ocean, fall in love again with my beautiful city.

I don’t know if this post really feels like a conclusion… I guess maybe it doesn’t have to, because even though I am home, my study abroad experience hasn’t “concluded.” I’m going to continue adjusting– to people driving on the right side of the road, to bars instead of pubs, to lines instead of queues. And regardless of how much I stay in contact, the memories I made and the people I met will stay with me (y’all know the Dumbledore quote).

When I got back to San Francisco, the first thing I did (after dropping my luggage at home and showering) was go out for Chinese food, and the second thing I did was go to Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Clay theatre in the Filmore, and the next thing I did (after sleeping for a little bit) was go to the Pride parade. All of which really reminded me of what it feels like to be in my city, in San Francisco. So I guess I’ll end with a picture of Pride, of a float that was pretty perfect:


21/6/15 – Wrapping Up (In A Blanket and Crying Because Ohmygosh I’m Leaving Oxford)

I did write a post last Sunday, I just didn’t actually post it because… I don’t know, I wasn’t ready to recognize the fact that it would be my second-to-last post in Oxford.

And now I am writing my last post in Oxford. But I am ready to recognize that?

A week from now, I will be home in San Francisco, and that thought makes me really happy. It also really hurts.

On Friday night (the 19th), I started saying goodbye to the rest of my friends here, and on Saturday all of my friends except for my roommate left. That day was probably the hardest energy/emotional crash I have experienced while being here. From about 10pm Friday night until 10pm Saturday night I am pretty sure I didn’t make it through more than about 2 hours straight without crying. We had the brilliant idea on Friday night of buying up tons of chocolate from the vending machines with the rest of the money on our Bod cards (student cards), pushing the two beds in the room together to make one SuperBed, and curling up together and watching Parent Trap (the whole England-America double life thing… surprisingly relevant…).

So I cried during that. (When Lindsey Lohan/Halley gets to see her mom, Natasha Richardson, for the first time… oh man, it gets me so bad)

We finished around 2:30am, and I tried to sleep and failed, so I put on some depressing music and cried some more, slept a little, got myself out of bed at 9:30am to help carry suitcases down the staircase and walk my friends outside… and spent the rest of the day curled up in my room watching Elementary (it’s kind of my comfort show– I empathize with Joan Watson/Lucy Lui so hard).

I did manage to pull myself together enough to go to Blackwell’s and read about 30 pages of Ulysses, and then walked through the Holywell cemetery again and cried some more.


It’s weird, because I’ve barely cried while I’ve been here, and I guess my body just decided to get it all out in one day. I couldn’t even have pinpointed an exact reason for it. It has to do with leaving, and having to detach from all the people I’ve grown to care about, and just… knowing it is never going to be like this again. And just kind of letting myself mourn that.

My roommate and I went to bed early that night (after a major moment of culture shock: we heard what sounded like gunshots right outside our window, which was open, and both dropped to the floor and covered our heads and moved away from the windows before realizing that we were in England, and the likelihood of a school shooting was next to zero. In fact, they were fireworks to celebrate the end of term).

When I woke up this morning, I felt a lot better, and I went for a run and finished Ulysses (yay!!!) and bought some nail polish. 😀

Finishing Ulysses Starter Pack Includes: (1) copy of Ulysses, 933 pages, (1) G & D’s banana split sundae with caramel and vanilla fudge ice cream and chocolate sprinkles, (1) spoon to eat said ice cream, (1) beautiful Oxford spring day, (1) sleepy student

Without everyone here, and with my last tutorial and my roommate leaving on Tuesday, it’s going to be a quiet last week, but I think that will be good. I will go for long walks and spend as much time as possible reading in Blackwell’s (oh, how I’m going to miss it!) and trying all of the food I haven’t tried yet.

Since I missed last week, a quick update on the things I’ve been up to with the last of my time here:

– seeing Traces, the performance by the circus troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main (7 Fingers), in London:

– listening to a talk by Neil Gaiman and David Mitchell at Union Chapel (London again)

Union Chapel

Union Chapel

– attending a book launch for novelist Sarah Leipciger, led by Mark Haddon (author of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, and other books)

– writing and turning in my final short story for Creative Writing, titled “They (Singular)”

– checking out this awesome dude at the Pitt Rivers Museum (which I somehow had not been to before??!?!?! It was freaking awesome!??!?):


RAWR dinos are the bomb dot com

– laughing, crying, having loud dance parties in the room, complaining about the weather

– talking to my family over Skype, and feeling so excited to see all of them again, and especially feeling thankful today (Father’s day) for my dad, who listens to me rant about literature nonstop, who has encouraged me in my creative writing pursuits for my entire life, and provided the most inspiring model of someone who made a life doing the creative work he loves. Thank you, Dad, for feeding my curiosity, for asking the big questions with me and admitting it’s okay not to have answers, for all of our adventures past and the many more to come. I miss you and love you a lot, and my mom, and my Sister Bear, and all of my wonderful family and loved ones, those who I will see soon back in the Bay Area and at Spirit Lake, those in Arizona, and those abroad all over the world.

If home is where the heart is, then I have a great many homes.

7/6/15 – My Ears Are Still Ringing a Little…

Wow. I feel like a lot happened this week, and I am kind of exhausted, and everything these last couple weeks is going by so fast!

I am starting to actually process the fact that I’m leaving in– 20 days exactly, wow.

I am saying wow a lot, aren’t I…

(Speaking of which, can’t say “wow” now without thinking of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlLMlJ2tDkg

Darn you Owen Wilson and your annoying wow.)

I haven’t talked about leaving yet, because I wasn’t really ready to recognize that it was happening, but I am finally feeling ready to head back home. I love it here, but I’m starting to get that feeling that like… even when I leave, I won’t be totally gone, and I have this sense that I will be back someday? Maybe for graduate school, or maybe just to visit (probably not to live– I miss my city too much). And that is comforting. And I can’t wait to see my parents and my sister, and go grab food on Haight street, and hang out with old friends in the Bay Area, and go to the ocean– oh, I’ve missed the ocean…

Speaking of missing my city… I went to Oxford Pride this weekend! After having participated in Pride in SF the last couple years, Oxford was… quite different. On Pride weekend in San Francisco, the entire city pretty much breaks out into a party. On the day of the march, you can’t get much of anywhere on public transportation without seeing people all dressed up with rainbow colors everywhere.

Oxford was quite a bit more tame, but it was still fun to do. I got to go with one of my actual British friends (someone I met at the first Entz party, and continued to run into at different feminist events throughout the past couple terms until we finally started actually talking to each other), and it was the first time she was really able to march in a Pride parade, so that was very exciting. We walked through Cornmarket (one of the main streets in Oxford and tourist central), down Queens Lane and made our way to Oxford Castle, which is a part of Oxford I hadn’t actually seen yet!


Marching down Cornmarket

Later in the evening we went out to Plush, a club in Oxford, danced until it was light and walked back to St Catz and watched the sunrise in the meadow…

Laying in the middle of the street at 4am... don't worry, it was blocked off, and we had two people stand watch just in case :)

Laying in the middle of the street in front of Blackwell’s at 4am… don’t worry, it’s blocked off to most traffic, and we had two people stand watch just in case 🙂

Two girls and a red balloon

Two girls and a red balloon

First glimpse of the sun through the trees

First glimpse of the sun through the trees

Oxford is, of course, as magical as always. Apart from partying till dawn and going to concerts, I actually do spend pretty much all of my time working. I got into a good pattern this past week of spending a good 3-5 solid hours in the RadCam (Radcliffe Camera Library) to get the majority of my work done for the day, and then finishing the rest of it on trains and buses and in my room, whenever I can. I have 4 assignments left: 2 more Ulysses essays, and 2 creative writing assignments. I’m so close!

To close, I want to share this priceless video I caught of a dog we ran into on one of our evening walks the other night:

Little Doggie Big Stick

Gotta love Oxford: magic, academic, and fun, all in one.