I know, I know, I know - I have failed miserably in the blog department recently - for as much free time as I have in Oxford, it sure does fly by. So I am going to back through and tell you all about my weekend trips.
We arrived in Oxford on June 23rd. We are staying at Worchester College - it is absolutely breathtaking! The main entrance has a big, iron gate that you walk through and enter through huge wood, double doors. The first thing you see when you enter the college is "The Quad" - There is a large rectangular patch of square grass in the very middle and you are not under any circumstances allowed to walk or even touch the grass. That is the first thing we learned about the British, they take their landscaping seriously - so don't mess with them. #1 Rule - "Keep Off the Grass". The Quad is surrounded by beautiful stone buildings that all have archway entrances and beautiful vines and flowers growing up the side of the buildings. Worchester is definitely a campus worth visiting. As soon as we arrived, we had to get our room assignments. Everyone was so excited about finally having their own "home" - being able to have your own space and not live out of a suitcase. My new home was going to be in Earl - oh yes, the name of my building is Earl. When I first looked at the map, it seemed like I was going to be living out in Zimbabwe - but the walk was not as bad as I thought. It is really interesting though because to get around the campus, you have to walk up and downstairs and through other buildings - so needless to say, when I was lugging around my suitcase that definitely is not under 50 lbs anymore, I was not such a happy camper. But once we got to Earl, it was really nice. It is one of the newest buildings on campus. I was lucky to not only have a room on the first floor, but wait for the best part - it is actually a handicap room. Some how the staff members at Worchester knew I was special . My room is absolutely HUGE! and the best part - my bathroom is even larger. AND - to top it all off - everything in my room is Sammar level - the desk, bed, nightstand, sink are all smaller, except my feet dangle off the toilet because it is so high..haha. it is kind of funny to see. So first funny story in my room - my room was extremely hot when I first arrived because of course Europeans have not jumped on the airconditioning train yet. So I tried to open my windows - oh no, these windows were not going to open. There was a little sticker on the window with a hand on it, so I tried following the motion of the hand but 20 minutes later my windows were still not opening. So for about 2 days, I was dying of heat exhaustion - every day, trying just as hard to get the stupid window open. Finally, one day after being beyond frustrated, I threw myself onto my bed and hit something on the way down - all of the sudden I hear this very strange noise..errrrrrrrrrrr (something electronic) - lone behold - the windows are electronic. So note to self - next time you stay in a handicap room, make sure it comes with instructions =).
But as soon as I got into my room, I started unpacking immediately - I needed to make it feel a little bit more like home. I went to the computer lab, printed off pictures and calendars to put on my big bulletin board - already started putting sticky notes every where as little reminders - it definitely started to feel like home.
The first week in Oxford was amazing. It was like I had started on a whole new trip. All of my friends were back together again and we were all sharing stories of what had happened on the four weeks prior. There is an on-campus pub - so every night, everyone just meets at the pub and then decides where to go from there. I met my first hot British boy in our on-campus pub - the bartender (sorry dad, its true). His name is John and we actually ended up becoming pretty good friends and he eventually showed me all around Oxford and other parts of England (stay tuned for details later on in the show...).
Sorry side-tracked, but yea the first week was an absolute blast! Our first weekend in England, we went to London - our main reason for going was to go to Wimbledon and oh my gosh, it was sooo worth it! We took a bus into London Friday night. It was about a 2 hour bus ride which was not bad at all. We got to our first hostel around dinner time. I had heard some horror stories about hostels and was a little bit weary but it ended up being really nice and sanitary, so no complaints. The first night, we just went to dinner and met up with some other people on the trip. We kind of made it an early night because we knew that we had to wake up at the crack of dawn to go to Wimbledon in the morning. Well, Saturday morning our plan was to leave the hostel no later than 6:30 - we did not get up until 8 - a few snooze buttons may have been pushed. It was nice to sleep in though because for the past 4 weeks, we had been getting up at 7 am every morning and going to bed around 3 or 4 am. So a little snoozing was definitely in need. But we all got up and hoped on another lovely public transportation and were off to Wimbledon. We knew that it was going to be crowded but we had absolutely no idea it was going to be as crazy as it was. When we arrived, it seriously looked like there were people for miles in this huge field waiting in the queue (the British word for the waiting line). We knew that it was going to be a long day. We got in line around 9 am - 10 am, 11 am, noon all rolled around and we had not moved an inch. It was lot more enjoyable than I thought it was going to be - the weather was absolutely beautiful - so we all just got a little tan, talked, rested - it was really relaxing. The officials finally came around and gave us our queue cards - I was number 9663 - which means that I was the 9663 person waiting in line to go into Wimbledon - how crazzzy is that! The line eventually started moving and once it did, time flew by. Before we knew it, we were inside the gates of Wimbledon. I had finally gotten into the place that I had been watching for years on television. It was so exciting! And just to let you know, Daddy you were the first person I thought of...the first person I wanted to call and say "how jealous are you?" haha, jk! But just being inside was absolutely amazing. We went to the big board that tells you where everyone was playing. Since we just had ground passes, we could not go into center court or no.1. Petrova was playing on No.3, so Brigitte and I decided to go stand in another queue to watch her. After about a 20 minute wait, we finally got into the court. IT WAS AWESOME! Watching tennis on television is really fun, but it does not even compare to watching it in person. We stayed at Wimbledon for about 5 hours - just walking around, watching different people play, and of course going crazy in the gift shop. The sun was really intense that day, so we were all pretty exhausted! We decided to go to Notting Hill for dinner and then call it an early night once again. Notting Hill was absolutely adorable - I guess the main reason we wanted to go was because of the movie - and it is definitely just as cute in person. We ate at a really good pizza shop and walked around for a little bit. This entire trip, I have been waiting to find something that I absolutely fall in love with and I DID! Right next to where we ate lunch, there was this very urban-chic jewelery store and I found the ring of my dreams. Of course, I didn't get it and to this day am still thinking about. So next week, I'm hoping on a bus to go back and get it =) what can I say, when you fall for something, you fall hard and cant get it off your mind? I fell for a ring =)
So Saturday night, we all went to bed real early and slept like little babies. The next morning, we had to be out of our hostel by 10. So we backed up our backpacks and went exploring around London. Lets just say that we looked like the ultimate tourists because our backpacks looked like they were going to explode and we took pictures in every red phone booth we could find. It took a little adjusting at first - carrying around the backpack that is...because I know was two people instead of one. I cannot tell you how many times I took people out with one little turn of the body. I kept telling myself - remember Sammar, you are double in depth now...it was quite a site. Also, since I felt the need to pack my entire wardrobe in my bag (no big surprise), I was not afraid to use my geek straps in order to take off some of the weight. Looking cute and fashionable was far from my priority - saving my back was definitely number one. Whoever said pain = beauty, apparently did not say that when they had a 25 lb backpack on their back
The first thing we did was take a tour of the Tower of London We had a really funny tour guide dressed in one of those old timey outfits. The tour was definitely worth it! Tower of London is where all of the royal jewels and crowns are kept - talk about every girl's fantasy. Im pretty sure that my mouth never closed while we walked through the crowned jewels. They were absolutely exquisite. The light hit each jewel perfectly - showing their uniqueness and perfection. So this section made me want to marry Prince Harry even more =)
After our tour, we just went exploring around London. We saw Big Ben, Westminister Abbey, The Eye, and Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace and the Abbey were closed, so we could only see from the outside. After carrying our backpacks around all day, we were definitely ready to head back. It was weird because towards the end of the day, we kept talking about how we were ready to go home - realizing that we were referring to Oxford. Thats when it hit me, Oxford would be my home for the next 6 weeks. It has been absolutely wonderful, but I am very ready to go home to my real home!! I miss y'all so much and I can't wait to see everyone! only 11 more days...ahhh!!! keep checking up on the blog because I am going to write about the other cities soon. miss you! cheers =)