The true story behind the Lumineers Tetralogy: Sleep on the Floor, Angela, Cleopatra, Ophelia.

When the Lumineers released their second album called “Cleopatra”, fans immediately picked up no four tunes: Sleep on the Floor, Angela, Cleopatra, and Ophelia. The songs seemed to be connected in some way, but the music videos were released in reverse order which left many fans confused. Not to mention, the videos themselves only made sense when viewed in the correct sequence, and the names used in each song is different. Now that all four songs have been released, and with further interviews of The Lumineers, I was able to piece together the entire story that further solidified my love for these master storytellers. Here is the true story of Angela. The music videos for all four songs can be found at the bottom along with the interviews.

Sleep on the Floor Lyrics
Pack yourself a toothbrush dear
Pack yourself a favorite blouse
Take a withdrawal slip
Take all of your savings out
 
‘Cause if we don’t leave this town
We might never make it out
I was not born to drown
Baby come on
 
Forget what Father Brennan said
We were not born in sin
Leave a note on your bed
Let your mother know you’re safe
And by the time she wakes
We’ll have driven through the state
We’ll have driven through the night
Baby come on
 
If the sun don’t shine on me today
And if the subways flood and bridges break
Will you lay yourself down and dig your grave
Or will you rail against your dying day
 
And when we looked outside
Couldn’t even see the sky
How do you pay the rent
Is it your parents
Or is hard work dear
Holding the atmosphere
I don’t wanna live like that, yeah
 
If the sun don’t shine on me today
If the subways flood and bridges break
Jesus Christ can’t save me tonight
Put on your dress, yes wear something nice
Decide on me, yea decide on us
Oh, oh, oh, Illinois, Illinois
 
Pack yourself a toothbrush dear
Pack yourself a favorite blouse
Take a withdrawal slip
Take all of your savings out
‘Cause if we don’t leave this town
We might never make it out
 
Angela Lyrics
When you left this town, with your windows down
And the wilderness inside
Let the exits pass, all the tar and glass
‘Til the road and sky align
 
The strangers in this town,
They raise you up just to cut you down
Oh Angela it’s a long time coming
 
And your Volvo lights lit up green and white
With the cities on the signs
But you held your course to some distant war
In the corners of your mind
 
From the second time around
The only love I ever found
Oh Angela it’s a long time coming
Home at last
 
Were you safe and warm in your coat of arms
With your fingers in a fist
Did you hear the notes, all those static codes
In the radio abyss?
 
Strangers in this town,
They raise you up just to cut you down
Oh Angela it’s a long time coming
Oh Angela spent your whole life running away
Home at last
Home at last
 
Vacancy, hotel room, lost in me, lost in you
Angela, on my knees, I belong, I believe
 
Home at last
Home at last
Home at last
Home at last
Home at last, hmm
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cleopatra Lyrics
I was Cleopatra, I was young and an actress
When you knelt by my mattress, and asked for my hand
But I was sad you asked it, as I laid in a black dress
With my father in a casket, I had no plans, yeah
 
And I left the footprints, the mud stained on the carpet
And it hardened like my heart did when you left town
But I must admit it, that I would marry you in an instant
Damn your wife, I’d be your mistress just to have you around
 
But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I’ll be on time
 
While the church discouraged, any lust that burned within me
Yes my flesh, it was my currency, but I held true
So I drive a taxi, and the traffic distracts me
From the strangers in my backseat, they remind me of you
 
But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I’ll be on time
 
And the only gifts from my Lord were a birth and a divorce
But I’ve read this script and the costume fits, so I’ll play my part
 
I was Cleopatra, I was taller than the rafters
But that’s all in the past love, gone with the wind
Now a nurse in white shoes leads me back to my guestroom
It’s a bed and a bathroom
And a place for the end
 
I won’t be late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I’ll be on time
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ophelia Lyrics
Ah, ah, when I was younger, ah, ah, should have known better
And I can’t feel no remorse, and you don’t feel nothing back
 
Ah, Ah, got a new girlfriend, he feels like he’s on top
And I don’t feel no remorse, and you can’t see past my blinders
 
Oh, Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind girl since the flood
Oh, Ophelia, heaven help a fool who falls in love
 
Ah, Ah, got a little paycheck, you got big plans and you gotta move
And I don’t feel nothing at all
And you can’t feel nothing small
 
Honey I love you, that’s all she wrote
 
Oh, Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind girl like a drug
Oh, Ophelia, heaven help a fool who falls in love
 
Oh, Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind girl since the flood
Oh, Ophelia, heaven help a fool who falls in love
 
Oh, Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind girl like a drug
Oh, Ophelia, heaven help a fool who falls in love
 

Sleep on the Floor (Analysis)
The story of Angela begins with her true love asking her to make a life-changing decision: pack up all her belongings and leave town with him.
 
What is holding Angela back? In the third stanza, we can see that her father had always been against the idea. “Forget what Father Brennan says!” says the man. “We were not born in sin” meaning, she should be free to make her own decisions and feel no obligations. “Leave a note for your mother to let her know you are safe, and by then we will have gone through the state, through the night.”
 
Furthermore, what makes it even harder is that this seems to be a now or never decision, shown in the second stanza–“If we don’t leave now, we might never make it out”. But from the following lines, “I was not born to drown” we can tell that he no intentions to stay in this town regardless of Angela’s actions.
 
The man continues: “If the sun don’t shine on us. If subways flood and bridges break”, referring to the possibility that the odds may not be on their side, he still wants her to go down trying. “How will you pay the rent? Is it your parents?” he asks. He tells her he doesn’t want to live like that, and it is through hard work that we should live.
 
And with one last effort, he tells her that “Jesus Christ” and “praying” will not save them and he begs her to “decide on me, decide on us.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Angela (Analysis)
Angela has decided to leave the town, taking with her the “wilderness”–the lust for freedom and adventure. She drives past the tar and glass of the city “Til the road and sky align”, depicting the open roads of the countryside freeway where there is a clear view of the beautiful horizon. In the music video she is pregnant.
 
Despite being born and raised in the same town, the man tells her in the second stanza: “they raise you up just to cut you down”, perhaps indicating that the town would have offered her nothing but disappointment had she stayed. This decision was a “long time coming” he says.
 
But something is very wrong. In the third stanza, we see that Angela has been fighting some “distant war” in the corners of [her] mind”, as if something had been troubling her deep in her heart. The lines, “From the second time around, the only love I ever found”, is somewhat of an anomaly. Why the second time around? What is he talking about?
 
It is in the fifth and sixth stanza that we realize she has left town, but not when her love asked her to at the beginning of the song. “Were you safe and warm in your coat of arms with your fingers in a fist” refers to her initially making the safe decision to stay in her house (coat of arms), but this was not what she truly wanted to do, hence her “fingers in a fist”. He wonders if she heard the calls of freedom through the static noise in the radio from somewhere far away that eventually pushed her to leave.
 
“Oh Angela, you spent your whole life running away”, perhaps from what her heart tells her to do. But now she has made a decision to leave town, they make love in a hotel, and she is “home at last” on the road.

Cleopatra (Analysis)
Angela has aged and is reflecting on her life–specifically that moment when her true love “knelt by my mattress and asked for my hand”. She felt like Cleopatra, like an actress, taller than the rafters, taller than life itself.
 
But now we are shown the subtle brutality of life. The lines, “But I was sad you asked it, as I laid in a black dress with my father in a casket” shows that her father has just passed away and if she were to leave, her mother would have been all alone. Thus, she could not give her love an answer right away.
 
And with that, her true love disappears feeling rejected. He leaves behind mud footprints on the carpet, and she “left the footprints, the mud stained on the carpet” as a memory of him and that day. He leaves and her heart hardened like the mud. The lines “Damn your wife, I’d be your mistress just to have you around”. shows that he eventually got married to another woman, and the lines in the previous song finally makes sense–“The second time around, the only love I ever found” refers to his second relationship with another woman, but that Angela had always been his one and only love.
 
The church discouraged her love for an already married man, but she held true. She becomes a taxi driver to distract herself from her woes. Or perhaps because it reminds her of that day he had taken the taxi to leave town.
 
Although she deeply loves him, the reality is that she was too “late for that, late for this, late for the love of my life”. And so when the time comes to “die alone” she will be just on time.
 
“The only gifts from my Lord were a birth and a divorce” also reveals in the previous song, that she had made love and become pregnant with a different man whom she eventually divorced. She says in an interview that two of her happiest days were when she had her one and only son and when she got divrced to a man she never loved. And with little time left in her life now, she says, “I read this script and the costume fits”, meaning she knows how this will end up–alone–and she knows she deserves this tragedy for not leaving with her true love when he asked her to. So she simply “plays her part”, accepting her fate and living on.
 
Now a nurse in white shoes leads her to her guestroom in a retirement home. There is a bed and a bathroom–“a place for an end”. And this time, “I won’t be late for this”.
 
Ophelia (Analysis)
 
Ophelia is alternately narrated, almost like a conversation, starting with Angela.
This is the ending of the story. She is well into old age, and she reminisces about the past. She still feels regret over her decision not to go with her true love. “She should have known better”, but she thinks that by now ”you don’t feel nothing back”. And so she tells herself that she also feels no more remorse–empty words to comfort herself.
 
We can see from the second stanza that she still cannot hide her feelings of bitterness. She thinks that because he eventually got a new girlfriend whom he married, he must think he is “above her”. So she puts up barriers between her and her once true love–“you can’t see past my blinders”.
 
But her actions speak the truth. That day he left town, she wrote him a letter that said, “Honey, I love you.” That’s all it said. And with their love intact stronger than ever, they parted ways.
 
No matter what Angela thinks however, the man is still in love with Angela. “Oh Ophelia, you’ve been on my mind girl since the flood”, refers to the fact that Angela never left his mind since their breakup, despite his new marriage.
 

This is a story of life as it is. Two people deeply in love with each other, but torn by the circumstances. It is a story of “ifs” and “could have beens”, making mistakes, immorality, irrationality, and ultimately, seeing through life until the very end with the burdens of decisions past. We can “read the script” all we want, but sometimes the best we can do is to play our part to the fullest until the end. We live by the decisions we make, and we should make the most out of our lives going forth, I think that is what Angela wanted to tell us through this story. My personal favorite song of these four is “Angela”.

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Drops of Jupiter–a story of grief, deep fried chicken, and a different perspective on loss.

It’s been more than 16 years, and yet I can still recognize this song played anywhere by listening to its very first key. And then the unforgettable line that follows shortly thereafter. Yes, perhaps one of the most memorable and recognizable lyric in music history—“Now that she’s back in the atmosphere, with drops of Jupiter in her hair” Little did I know that this one line was where everything began for Pat Monahan, singer-song-writer of this timeless masterpiece.

Drops of Jupiter is one of those songs that everyone knows, but very few people know what it’s about. Understandably, you won’t come across many artists that uses the words “Jupiter”, “Fried Chicken”, “Venus”, “Soy-latte” all in the same tune. But this only highlights the genius of this song in my opinion—you know that it is a free-flowing natural. In fact, Monahan claims he wrote this song in less than 30 minutes. Fun fact, the song “Imagine” by John Lennon was also written in less than an hour and it went on to become one of the most inspirational songs of our generation. But where did Monahan’s inspiration come from? How did he manage to write such an artistic, harmonious, beautiful song in 30 minutes; one that would eventually go on to win Train (the band) a Grammy Award over other masterpieces such as “Yellow” by Coldplay?

Space_Journey_Unity3D_AssetStore_Volume.jpgLoss. The common interpretation of a woman who leaves her man to see if they belong together is, in fact, not what Monahan had in mind when he wrote this song. It is actually a song about his mother’s death, and the birth of a new perspective on life that has helped millions cope with the loneliness of seeing off their loved ones as they are left to grieve. The tragic news of his mother’s loss to cancer struck when Train was on tour on December 1998 before their rise to stardom. On top of this grievance, the band was under heavy pressure by their label to produce a smashing hit after two years of only moderate success. It was too much for Monahan, and he retreated to Pennsylvania for inspiration. During this retreat, the seeds to the band’s most beloved song was born.

“I went to bed, and after just a few minutes I woke up and had the words [for the song], ‘back in the atmosphere’. Obviously, the loss of the most important person in my life was heavy on my mind, but I thought, ‘hey what if no one ever really leaves? What if she’s here but different. And the idea was that she’s back, here, in the atmosphere,”

train

He is not referring to reincarnation as some would believe, but more at the possibility that perhaps those we lost are still with us in the atmosphere. Perhaps they only leave us temporarily to go on a liberating journey through the solar system. Or as Monahan would put it, “on a soul vacation tracing her way through the constellation”. Yes, their journey does include a “stay on the moon” and a “sail across the sun”. But in the end, they will always come back to us, to “act like Summer”, “walk like Rain”, “listen like Spring”, and “talk like June”. The lyrics are so playful and mesmerizing, like their journey through space itself. Perhaps the journey is liberation from the shackles of life, to float around weightless in the solar playground that awaits each and every one of us.

Going off of Monahan’s own description of the song, I slowly began seeing the song as a conversation between us and those we love who have parted us. Underlying the slightly silly lyrics at times and the rather upbeat melody is a hint of sadness that Monahan simply cannot hide–the fear that they may never come back, contradicting our feelings of love and joy for them as they go out on their soul-searching journey through space. We want to hear all about their journey, we just want to talk with them again so we bombard them with questions like, “Did the wind sweep you off your feet? Did you make it to the milky way..? And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?” And as if to jokingly bribe them to stay, we ask “can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken? No first dance, freeze dried romance, five-hour phone conversations.. The best soy latte that you ever had, and me?” I bet space doesn’t have that! It sounds weird, but perhaps it can be of similar essence to a mother sending off her child to society. Feelings of bittersweetness, worry, love, and acceptance simultanesouly soak through the gravity of its melody–and it’s a strange feeling that makes us feel alive.

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In February 2002, a little less than a year after the song was made, Train was invited onstage at the 44th GRAMMY Award reception where Monahan gave a list of people he wanted to thank. At the very end, he pointed towards the stars and thanked his mother. The song ranked fourth in the 2001 Billboard list of hot singles of the year. It spent over 100 weeks on the Adults Contemporary chart and has entered and re-entered the UK Singles chart every time it was covered by contestants in “The Voice”. Today, people of all ages will recognize this song, a testimonial to its timeless melody and mesmerizing lyrics that I barely touched upon today.

What Monohan produced was a brilliantly lit star out of one of the darkest moments of his life. It is a song about soy-latte’s and shooting stars as much as it is about loss and liberation. And like that, its melody carries us in and out of the atmosphere, from the most mundane of moments like eating fried-chicken with our best friend here on earth, to the most stratospheric of dreams like imagining the souls of our loved ones falling from a shooting star to come see us again. In the end he leaves us this message.

‘Drops of Jupiter’ was as much about me being on a voyage and trying to find out who I am. The best thing we can do about loss of love is to find ourselves through it.”

Perhaps so that we can be our best self when our loved ones come back with drops of Jupiter in their hair to tell us all about their journey.

————————

Here is the Music Video

Below are the full lyrics to the song for those of you who want a glimpse of modern pop’s version of astronomy, art, and poetry.

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey
She acts like summer and walks like rain
Reminds me that there’s time to change, hey, hey
Since the return from her stay on the moon
She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey

Tell me did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated

Tell me, did you fall from a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there

Now that she’s back from that soul vacation
Tracing her way through the constellation, hey, hey
She checks out Mozart while she does tae-bo
Reminds me that there’s room to grow, hey, hey

Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
I’m afraid that she might think of me as plain ol‘ Jane
Told a story about a man who is too afraid to fly so he never did land

Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back to the milky way
And tell me, did Venus blow your mind
Was it everything you wanted to find
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there

Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken
Your best friend always sticking up for you even when I know you’re wrong
Can you imagine no first dance, freeze dried romance five-hour phone
Conversation
The best soy latte that you ever had, and me

Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
And head back toward the Milky Way

And are you lonely looking for yourself out there?

Tell me did you sail across the sun
Did you make it to the milky way to see the lights all faded
And that heaven is overrated

Tell me, did you fall from a shooting star
One without a permanent scar
And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there

3/22/17; What I think about happiness after studying abroad

“I am living life”.

To me, these words have less weight than the words, “I have lived”. Just like in a football game, a team can dominate for 89 minutes, but if they let up a goal in the 90th minute and lose, the winning side will surely call their strategy a success.

Let’s take Winston Churchill for example. He was ranked “The Greatest Briton of all time” in a 2002 poll of Britons by the BBC, above famous names like Charles Darwin and Isaac Newton. However, we know that his life was one of many prominent failures. Though he was known primarily for his achievements during war, he had several embarrassing military defeats such as in the Battle of Singapore against Japan which he called “the worst disaster in British military history” (whether this is true is another story). Furthermore, he also had several outdated and heavily criticized ideologies for his time. In the face of greater calls for freedom, globalization, and independence, he continued to be a grand imperialist until his death, even fighting adamantly against the decolonization of India despite promises to do so otherwise. Yet, we see that in hindsight, he is almost universally loved and revered.

Despite his failures during the process of living, fifty years after his death, we can undoubtedly say that “he has lived”. I know this sounds childish, but I always admired people like Churchill, or rather, I envied his way of life. He said himself before the outbreak of WWII, “I felt that all my past life had been but a preparation for this moment and this trial”. I imagined the moment when I too could one day look back at my life and say, “my life was but a preparation for this moment, and I think I did alright”.

Thus, from an early age, I was committed to preparing myself for that moment. I sacrificed fun, happiness, time, and energy, so that I could leave my mark on this world, rise up the ranks of society and do bigger things. From an early age, I constantly asked myself questions to reassure myself; “should life truly be about fun and happiness? Or should it be about a lifetime of service to a greater cause? Should it be to repay to society what is has invested in you? Is it just about family and friends? Is it about money, fame, and power?” For the time being, I followed the Winstonian model of “work when you’re alive, be satisfied from the grave”.

To be honest, he probably didn’t even think about or endorse this principle, but this is what the disillusioned Kohei created out of reading about him. Anyways, unlike many others around me, I was spending a good majority of my childhood not really thinking about “fun” or “happiness”. All I cared about was good grades, to do well in soccer, and to become a better person. I wanted to invest not in the moment, but in the future. The moment-by-moment mentality of living life didn’t make sense to me, and so I pursued a five-year-down-the-line perspective on life, doing in the present what I thought would be good for me five years later.

IMG_2467
Beer, pub food, and friends

Unfortunately, this robot-like mentality towards life made me simultaneously feel as though there was something terribly amiss with such lifestyle. Why was it that when I’m lying on my bed at night with all the time and freedom in the world to let my mind wander, I would always have flashbacks to these split second images—these very specific, short, and isolated moments of my life? The memories were crystal clear, but they were often spontaneous and spurious, recurring and random. I couldn’t seem to make a logical connection to these memories and what purpose they served in my life. They weren’t particularly meaningful moments of my life–or so I thought at least.

A frequently recurring memory was of a time when I was in grade school. I was a terrible student and I never studied for the tests so I would always read the words wrong. One day, after the usual ordeal, my teacher put down the book, looked into each of our eyes, and confronted the class; “why are you all laughing? He’s your classmate isn’t he?” I remember those words ringing in my ears, “he’s your classmate isn’t he?”, and the sudden rush of tears that welled up in my eyes. I quickly wiped them away so no one would notice I was crying. No, I didn’t start studying harder the next day. Nor did I become kinder to others.

As far as I can tell, this moment did not seem to play any role in my life regarding my personal growth nor the development of my character. Perhaps I was overwhelmed by happiness that even after so many failed tests, someone was willing to stand up for me. Perhaps I was hit by a wave of shame for my previous lack of efforts. Regardless, all of these flashbacks were moments of raw, powerful emotions, from sadness, guilt, happiness, affection, loneliness, etc. In hindsight, I realized I didn’t have as many of these moments as I wanted.

Maybe it is the case that I had a lot of these moments, but I never thought much of them because I was so focused on the future and growth, rather than the present and gratitude. Either way, if I didn’t live in these moments, they did not get saved in my memories. For a long time, I avoided having fun, but now I wanted to start creating more memories and flashback moments; memories my mind will hopefully travel back to and make me smile during my sleep.

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Catz ball with Catz people

This is where Oxford comes in. Though I enjoy the tutorial program here immensely, it is more the non-academic life here that has made the greatest impact on me. Part of the reason why I chose to study abroad at Oxford was because I actually knew the program would offer me the greatest amount of freedom and time over my life.

In the beginning, I was incredibly anxious and slightly lonely because I had no idea what to do with all the free time. I was in my room sitting on the bed wondering what I’m supposed to be doing. But over time, I started to make more friends, try new things, and add more variety in my life. I tried ballroom dancing and met someone who speaks five languages fluently. I made a family of the different football teams at my college. I joined the Japanese Students Society and sang my heart out in Karaoke to Bohemian Rhapsody. I even got drunk and went clubbing for the first time in my life. Every day started to feel shorter because I always had something to look forward to—in the present. The more I focused on enjoying each moment, the more I lost track of time. I would sleep at night thinking back at the ridiculous things that happened during the day, sometimes smiling and even laughing to myself quietly.

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Czech Republic with the Travel Society

I’m not sure how much of it was pure luck, and how much of it was because of my shift in mentality, but since I came to Oxford, there has been a lot of incredible happenings. Two of the football teams I was in made history: the First Catz team won the league and the Second team won the Cuppers tournament, both a first for our college. The Catz Ball which happens every three years happened to be during my stay. I happened to have applied to the coolest, friendliest, most practical, most relaxed, college at Oxford (I love St. Catherine’s College), where we have formals six times a week for just four pounds and an amazing college bar. I met an old High School friend by coincidence where we drank beer together over dinner. I made new friends at a Seven Sisters Colleges get-together that happened to be in London during my time here. I’m now sitting at a hotel-like-hostel in Vienna with other twelve other Oxford students, all of whom are incredibly smart, kind, humorous, and different. Every day, I’m making so many memories, having so many laughs, and feeling so loved and loving.

I know that none of the this will last. I know that I can afford to do these kinds of things because I am studying abroad. But I also realized that, although these moments usually do not come compressed in such short amount of time as they are during my JYA, over a lifetime, a greater commitment towards this “moment-by-moment” mentality may do me well.

Should I have been doing this all along? I don’t think so, as the work I put in the years prior did indeed lead to happiness for me today. Thus, I know that simply pursuing “fun” and “happiness” as an ends in themselves may not actually be what I want with my life. But that moment when the entire team is singing in a clubhouse at night, when I’m shouting into a karaoke machine with friends I just met an hour before, drunkenly hugging and being hugged by every person you know at a party, eating McDonalds at 2AM in the Czech Republic, writing a blog on the top bunk of a hostel in Austria, meeting Vassar friends by coincidence in Prague, listening to live Irish music at an Irish pub, getting to know someone you never really spent the time talking to, these are the moments I know I will forever remember. Maybe not consciously, but I have a feeling that one of these days in the years to come, I will sleep at night and my mind will travel back in time to relive these wonderful experiences.

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Seconds winning the Cuppers Tournament

*End note*

Growth, challenge, money, success, fame, respect, empathy, hardships, these are all factors which I still believe lead to happiness and satisfaction. But I think I finally understand what they meant when those nearing their deaths were asked the question; “what made you happy in life?” and answered, “relationships”. Relationships were the single greatest source of joy and happiness in their lives. Not just romantic relationships, but with family and friends and strangers. I hope that even after I finish my study abroad, I will always make the time and effort to make meaningful memories with more people. Knowing myself, I know that there is a good chance I will end up the way I was before, constantly investing in the future, reminiscing about the past, but never truly living in the moment. All I can hope for is that I never run out of experiences to recall at night so that I will always have something to make me smile. Keep pushing, keep growing, keep challenging yourself and making sacrifices, but don’t forget about those small, short, but everlasting pockets of simple joy, love, and gratitude towards “this moment”–this is what I have taken away from my first semester studying abroad at the University of Oxford.

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The Catz Boyz

3/2/17: Snippets of the Oxford culture and more Clark Quotes

I love England so much at this point, but it may be more that I’m simply loving the Oxford culture. Here are a few things I’ve found fascinating at Oxford..

Crewdates
Crewdates are Oxford’s version of American’s “mixers”. Usually, two teams or organizations get together at a restaurant or a pub and go through a number of rituals that I find both disgusting and hilarious.

  • Pennying; Everyone brings their own wine bottles and fills their glasses. Then, people start chucking pennies in them, but it mostly ends up landing in the food or in someone’s face. If you get one in someone’s wine glass–you guessed it–they have to down it. Oh, and this continues throughout the event.
  • Shoeing; The way this is initiated differs, but essentially, there is a simple task that one must do, and the last person to do so has to drink out of their own shoes. Sometimes, someone just yells “SHOE!” and you have to put your shoes on your head, or someone says “WALL” and the last person to touch the nearest wall loses.
  • Sconce; Essentially, people stand up at random times and says “I sconce someone who—” and anyone who this applies to has to stand up and drink. Unfortunately for the victim, the sconce tends to be very embarrassing or ridiculous or both.

These happen quite often if you are part of multiple sports teams, so be warned.

 

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someone about to Penny

 

Formals
Every college has their own dining service called “formals”, and they consist of three meals. Most colleges require formal attire and a college gown, though St. Catherine’s College (my college) is probably the most laid-back so one can show up in pajamas if they wish and reserve for it on the day. Our formals are also six days a week and only four pounds, whereas I’ve heard of another college that only has it twice a week and charges something like fourteen pounds! Anyways, enough with my Catz Pride. One can invite friends over to their formals as a show of friendship, so students can experience the culture of all 38 colleges at Oxford if they so wish! Formals take an hour as they serve the courses simultaneously, though one can opt for something we call “scaff” which is a normal “queue at the cafeteria” system.

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Formals before the Catz ball hence the formal attire (usually casual)

Bars
Ok, this is less unique but Vassar doesn’t have a subsidized bar so it’s still very chic. Every Oxford college has its own bar, and as with each college, the atmosphere is very different in each one. Some colleges have “specialty” drinks but the one at Catz is essentially grape juice.

Societies
There are countless numbers of societies at Oxford for everyone, some more secretive and infamous than others. The societies usually charge a membership fee and then a fee for each individual event which would not fly at Vassar but works well here. There is even a car society, but they were only into classic cars so I didn’t join 😥 If you’re interested in some of the more notorious ones, look online, and there are some interesting articles..

Sports
Although each college has their own teams, there is a University team AKA the Varsity team that people from any college can try out for. At the college level, there are different leagues for differing levels, along with a single-elimination tournament called the “Cuppers”. Thus, any player in any level can play for virtually any sport!

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The seconds after winning the Semi-finals for Cuppers against Worcester College


Clark moments

1. You know those cheeky one-liners that guys say before they get into a fight about what they’re going to do to each other? So Clark and I try to imitate this and this is what happened..

“Don’t make me come over there and crack your butt, boy”

“Oh yeah, well you’re a cracker butt”

I’ve never been so badly dissed in my life. Needless to say, I lost the battle.

2. Clark and I are in a lot of group chats, but I noticed one day that he never knows what is going on in any of them. So I check the chats to see if he has read the messages, and indeed it says, “read by Clark”. So I ask him, “how come you read the chats but never know what is going on”, and he replies “I saw a meme and I knew it wasn’t important”. My friend, you’re wise beyond your years.

3. Clark and I were meeting some friends, but we thought it’ll be nice to be fashionably late so we left five minutes late. Then our ethics got the better of us, and we decided we shouldn’t be late after all. I was running in my giant winter boots, so I tell him “I feel inadequate running in these shoes”, and he promptly replies, “I feel inadequate running in general”. I think a lot of us can relate to that.

4.
Me: “There’s a spider, but it’s on your side of the room. Maybe it likes you”

Clark: “Ok.. Well, I’ll let you adopt it”

5. Clark: “You’re a Comcast cause you answer all of my needs on demand”

6. This last one is not a Clark quote, but I was with him when it happened. We were sitting outside Hard Rock Cafe with some new friends and there’s an awkward moment of silence. It feels as though time has stopped, until a lady walks up to the restaurant and screams “I SEE FOOD!!”. Time resumed again. For a second, I thought I was in America too.

 

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The Catz ball was more like a massive party in a tuxedo

 

2/22/17: Reminiscing about the phases of my life and some lessons I’ve learned

Reminiscing about the phases of my life and some lessons I’ve learned

Back when I was much younger, I used to look forward in time a lot. I mean, when you’re five there’s really not much to reminisce about anyways, but I never really thought about the connection between the past and present. In a somewhat reluctant admittance however, nowadays, I find myself doing this a lot. Every time I ride a plane somewhere, I think back to my friends, troubles, and legacy that I’m leaving behind. Plane rides have inadvertently become the measurement of my life; something like the markings of each chapter. Here, I simply reminisce about the different phases of my life between each plane ride, and what I got out of each episode.

Planes .jpgJohn F. Kennedy airport on my way to Japan in 2015 (I think)

I’m pretty sure the first time I rode an aeroplane was when I was four, moving from Tokyo to California for my father’s work. We were supposed to stay for two years, but it wasn’t until nine years later that I moved back to Japan. Having spent the good majority of my childhood in California attending a public high school, I was very much a typical Californian kid. I really didn’t care much about school. In fact, I remember we had these “bad behaviour slips” that the teacher sent out to our parents every week, and I broke the record for the most number of slips in the first week with a number that even kids on Santa’s blacklist would gawk at–fourteen. The moment the teacher said, “Kohei, you have fourteen this week”, my friend (who I think had four) kindly made sure I heard correctly by shouting, “FOURTEEN?!” Ever since I was young, I loved the outdoors, and I would spend time with my neighbours almost everyday playing basketball, attempting to catch rabbits (and succeeding once), going to the pool, or playing the “Lava Game” on the playgrounds. In this era, I simply learned the value of Fridays and how to have fun.

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Heading off to a travel trip to meet the team on another island in Japan

When I was thirteen, I moved back to Kobe in what I thought would be the worst day of my life. Within three weeks of moving back, I joined a Japanese soccer team as I have been playing since the age of four. There, I encountered firsthand the strict culture of sports in Japan. During the summer of my first year in Japan, cumulatively, I probably had less than a week off. The following summer was a particularly difficult one for me, becoming somewhat of a turning point in my life. It was a hot summer day around 39C/100F, and we had three consecutive matches scheduled. I had to play in all of them (I won’t go into the details, but I didn’t really have a choice). I somehow managed to get through the games—albeit, just barely standing—but on my way home, I fell in the middle of the street from dehydration. I was carried to the hospital in an ambulance three hours away from home. I remember staring at the ceiling and wondering what I was doing with my life. Then, the realisation suddenly hit me that my days of fun and games were over, and I had to work harder if I wanted to succeed in life. Otherwise, I would end up weak and wounded in the hospital like I did this time. I developed an appreciation for the Hobbesian view of the world; the “survival of the fittest” model.

I flew to America for college when I became 18, with a completely new mindset. My experiences playing football in Japan taught me discipline, time management, self-motivation, and the value of simply working hard. I was what you would call an ambitious teen, itching to push himself to the limits and expand his boundaries. My second year in college, I was on the Varsity football team spending three hours a day six times a week playing soccer, along with a student government role as Dorm President, and also starting up a new organisation dedicated to providing substance-free and interactive programming. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle everything, but I promised myself before college that I was going to push myself. My time in college marks the first time in my life that I set out on a journey with an almost insatiable thirst for growth. For a while, nothing went well for me. I was not a starter for soccer, I was criticised as House President, no one came to the events of my organisation, and I was spending most days alone in my room. In hindsight, I now see why many people look back at their adversity in a positive light, attributing the dark days to what made them who they are today. I realised the simplest lesson of all—over time, perseverance and diligence pays off in character at the very least.

14362450_936350639805013_7676937131620141073_o.jpgThe first successful event our organization put on

My plane ride back to Japan from New York the summer of 2016 was the first time I remember thinking more about the past than the future. I’m sitting on the chairs at the gates, staring out the window and thinking about how blessed I am to have had met such incredible people on my journey. I think about how much I have changed since going to college; I used to dislike people who I disagreed with, but I realised that the world can not actually move forward without people who are unwavering in their beliefs. When two people are arguing for long enough, both sides develop followers and spur greater debates and discussions. In the midst of this, people from both sides create enemies, indeed, but also new friends. A lack of discussion leaves people in the dark, and some may say that being disliked is still better than being shunned. It strikes me that most of my life, I have tried pleasing people and avoiding confrontations; the Japanese side in me chooses harmony and peace over creative destruction. This is terrible in the business world and I have changed my attitudes accordingly, but simply as a person, I think this is perhaps something I can call my own. Going to Vassar made me realise that in the end, we get to call our own virtues.

By the time I was flying to England for my study abroad trip, I didn’t have a hint of nervousness or even excitement. Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic to be going to England and incredibly grateful for the opportunity, but I already had an idea of what life would be like. I would try to meet new people, make new friends, and try new things. I was calm about the whole ordeal because I had developed this theory about going abroad. I believe that there are certain kinds of people that I will meet no matter where I go. There are people who will remind you of someone you met in the past, and you will instantly recognise that feeling. In this sense, with time, I have overcome the feeling of homesickness, as over time I will meet the same friends over and over again. It’s quite possible that I haven’t explored the world enough to disprove my own theory, but so far I’m sticking to it. It’s strange to think that to someone else, I might actually remind them of yet another person I have never met. This mindset has made me appreciate the various individuals, character, traits, and personalities I encounter throughout the world, and how I’ll never forget the friends I make because there will always be someone who will remind me of them somewhere down the line.

13938597_908341882605889_6165639998503145145_n.jpgTalking about my experiences abroad on a national Radio station!

2/15/17: Random part 1; Embarrassing moments, Clark moments, etc.

Short introduction

When I  write my blog posts, I usually build upon ideas that occur to me randomly throughout the week. This week, I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired, so I decided to try something new; write down everything that pops into mind with no particular structure. I begin with my rather humiliating experiences trying out ballroom dancing, followed by updates on the four Catz Football teams, a very short description of the Japan Society, and to top it all off, some inspirational quotes from my roommate Clark. I believe a “random pictures dispersed throughout post” warning is warranted.

Of course, there were actually several interesting things I did in the periods between this post and my last post, but I’ll save those for items to use in future posts 😉

IMG_2263.jpgThis is actually the path to class Mon and Thu. Morning–I don’t get to cross the bridge, though 😦

A ballroom mishap

Yes, you heard that right, I am trying out Ballroom dancing lessons though I’m on the verge of giving up! So far, I can tell you that football skills and dancing skills are not transferrable. Apparently, you’re NOT supposed to run around like a chicken and kick things as hard as you can.

In what was perhaps one of the most embarrassing moments of our Oxford experience so far, Clark and I had both mistaken an Intermediate Ballroom lesson as a Beginners Salsa lesson. We got a strange feeling the moment we entered the room because people were slow-dancing in leather shoes. I asked Clark..

“Is this salsa dancing?” to which he replied,

“I think it’s a waltz”, and I just said

“Oh, ok makes sense..”,

..when in actuality, it didn’t make sense at all–people were supposed to be Salsa Dancing, not Waltzing to slow music.

To make a long story short, we somehow managed to convince ourselves that perhaps Salsa Dancers danced to slow music as a warm-up prior to the intense hip action. We made a fool of ourselves in front of the entire class just ten minutes into the lesson when we  asked “Is this Salsa Dancing?” to a room full of faces in disbelief. We were kindly led out the door. I admit it, my brain capacity was not at 100% that day. Though we were properly embarrassed, Clark and I laughed our way back to our rooms.

The following week, I went by myself as Clark wasn’t feeling the jibes. This time, I double-checked to see that I got the room correct so I wouldn’t accidentally waltz into an advanced Zumba class or something. I made it to the right lesson and the music started, but at a certain point, I noticed that I was the only one moving like a robot. Soccer is all about breaking the rhythm of the defender, so I just found it incredibly difficult to move to the same beat for prolonged periods.

I would get the order of my footsteps all wrong and inadvertently juke out my partner with  rather spectacular but completely uncalled for movements of the feet. The lesson basically turned out to be me saying to my poor friend, “oh my, wrong foot”, “sorry about tha—sorry, my fault” “left, left, le-right, dribble shoot score—wait, give me a second”.

If you were a spectator, you would see one guy moving robotically to classical music muttering the word “sorry” every 3 beats, and his partner being polite and laughing nervously.

IMG_2334.jpgThe Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford, known for its unique modern architecture

Updates on football

The St. Catz Firsts team is leading the pact in the top division by a comfortable six points. If we win the next two games, we are pretty much guaranteed the title as the strongest team in Oxford for the first time in St. Catz history as far as the records show. LET’S DO THIS LADS!

The St. Catz Seconds team is in the Cuppers semi-finals which will take place Feb. 17th. I still don’t really know what the Cuppers is but apparently, it’s a big deal. LET’S GO MATES!

In perhaps the most impressive feat of them all, however, the St. Catz Thirds team has (drum roll please)—escaped relegations in a mighty 1-1 draw against the invincible Worcester College!! LET’S NOT GET RELEGATED FRIENDS!

Finally, the St. Catz MCR Team is still leading the pact in the MCR division, AND we are still in the Cuppers tournament. LET’S CARRY ON umm.. PARTNERS!

img_2316                     The old St. Catz Uniform that I use though the colors are the same

Japan Society

There is an Oxford Japan Society but they put on relatively few events throughout the term. They do organize a nice trip to a Japanese restaurant called Edamame once every 3 weeks. The food was very expensive but it tasted like authentic Japanese food so that was really exciting! Other than this, the society set-up a “Bar Crawl” event which I went to for the first time in my life. Every Oxford College has its own bar, so we were scheduled to go around to Baliol and Hartford College. I ended up only going to Hartford as I was pretty exhausted already, but I got to meet some incredible Japanese scholars whom I consider friends now 🙂

Great quotes from Clark

For those of you who know him, Clark has a very witty sense of humor which cracks me up at the most unexpected of times. With his permission, I thought I’d share some with you every week. Here are a few of them so far..

  • I ask Clark as a joke, “permission to take a shower?” and he replied very seriously, “yeah but keep the doors closed”. I’ve never showered with them open before.
  • It was a rainy day and we were jogging to the bookstore as it was twenty minutes before closing time. Perhaps a bit agitated with the running, he suddenly mutters to me, “how nerdy do you have to be to jog to the bookstore?” Well, apparently nerdy enough to read Aristotle’s Politics for fun (I’m not joking).
  • In the St. Catz library, there is an area where the lamps are hanging a good ten feet from the ceiling rather than being propped up on a table like regular lamps. I admit it, I thought it was impractical too, but the librarian was kindly explaining to us how to use the computer system so I paid no mind. Then, Clark looks me dead in the eye as if he’s just had an epiphany and says, “I feel like that’s a little excessive for some lamps”. For some reason, I thought the timing of the comment was absolutely genius.

IMG_2396.JPG              Clark lost in a real life maze at Leeds Castle 10 minutes after I reach the goal

Feel free to leave comments or feedback (I know no one will, but it’s worth a shot) as I do this to stay connected with people! Next week, I’ll try to think of something better to write xD

1/22/17: Lots of Football and traveling

How I ended up playing for four football teams

As an offering to the soccer gods, it is my pleasure to announce that I have successfully managed to join all four male football (soccer) teams at St. Catherine’s College. The undergraduate team has three teams that each have incredibly unique names: The Firsts, The Seconds, and The Thirds. I’m still getting used to this new naming system, but apparently, the First team is the most competitive, the Second team is the second most competitive, and the Third team is the third most competitive. I know right, I get it mixed up too sometimes, so I secretly categorize them in my own head as: The Jackrabbits, The Flying Squirrels, and The Terminator, respectively.

16406762_10154119391437353_2201976809880154438_n.jpgThe Graduate program (referred to as MCR) team–no I’m not the manager

The fourth team I am on is the Graduate student’s team who call themselves the “St. Catherine’s Football Club”. When I first got a notification on FB from the “St. Catherine’s Football Club” saying we had practice, I had no idea which of the four teams the practice was for. I emailed the captain of The Seconds to see if it was for them, and he told me it “it’s probably for The Thirds.” But I knew The Thirds only practice on Saturdays and it was a Thursday, so I went to “St. Catherine’s Football Club” practice thinking it was probably for the undergraduate “Firsts”.

Well, I’ve never been so self-conscious about my lack of facial hair..

As it turns out, the practice was for the Graduate team which I guess one could technically call The Firsts, as there is only one Graduate team.. For those of you who don’t know, the graduate program is referred to as MCR or “Middle Common Room” whereas the undergraduate program is called the JCR or “Junior Common Room”.

I never intended to play in four teams at St. Catz, but the players on the MCR team were so tight-knit and friendly that I decided I would stay on this team no matter what. I was one of two JCR students–the other player was another visiting student from Georgetown.

Unfortunately, I was used to having three hours of practice every day back at Vassar, so the one practice/game per week schedule didn’t allow me to burn off all the calories I was eating. Thus, I attended The Thirds practice as well and the players there were so tight-knit and friendly that I decided I would stay on this team no matter what (notice the pattern). However, there was another small problem; I also wanted to play for the most competitive team we had. With this, I decided to try out for The Firsts and.. I made the team!

The Firsts are currently leading the table in the top division (out of four) which means the St. Catherine’s football team is currently the strongest team out of the 38 colleges in Oxford (Hip Hip, Catz)!! On top of that, the Seconds are currently in the semi-finals for the University wide tournament for reserve teams meaning if we win, I’ll also be part of the strongest reserve team in Oxford. On top of that, the thirds are near the top of the table for the third division, so I’ll also be part of one of the strongest reserve teams for reserve teams in Oxford. On top of that, the MCR team is leading the table for the MCR division. I think it’s fair to say I chose to come to the right college out of the 38 🙂
IMG_2294.jpgWinchester Cathedral, the longest Cathedral in Europe

At this point, I didn’t see the point of trying to decide which teams to join as I was already in three of the four except for The Seconds. I mean, imagine having to explain to someone why you play in the Firsts and the Thirds but not the Seconds. “Yeah, I play for The Firsts and Thirds.. No, not The Seconds, just Firsts and Thirds—I—I don’t know why! No, they all seemed nice it’s just—“.

And here I am now, playing for four teams at Oxford! To be fair though, the fields have a tendency to freeze over due to the chill, so about half of our games end up getting canceled. In this sense, I haven’t really been hit by the full force of four games/week yet though I shall report back to you all how successfully this goes for me.

You did well Kenichi..

I’m also in a society called the “Oxford University Travel Society” (OUTS) which hosts around 3 trips around England per trimester. The tickets are subsidized thanks to economies of scale, so it’s a nice way to explore England without having to spend too much “Quid” (also known as “Sterling”, or “Pound”).

On January 29th, we had a trip to Winchester where we got to see Winchester College—apparently, the oldest continuously operating school in England which was built in 1382. My friend and I joked, “imagine if it was called ‘Winchester High’ instead of ‘Winchester College’..” “Yeah, it doesn’t sound like it’s existed for 600 years *snorts”

All jokes aside, the High School did indeed have an incredible air of the passage of time, tradition, and excellence. The school was home to some brilliant display of Victorian and Medieval architecture which one couldn’t help but be mesmerized by. Apparently, they sold the beautiful stained glass of the school chapel to private collectors at one point, only to buy them back over the years using donations from alumni.

A particularly memorable moment was when we were walking down an alleyway and in the stone bricks surrounding us, there were engravings made by past students. One of them had the date “1919”, and it struck me that there could have been engravings on here that I missed which could have been over 500 years old or something.

There was a memorial for past students who passed away on campus and one of them had a Japanese name. He ran in a school race and got first, but he suffered a heart attack on the podium and never recovered. Our tour guide said the Japanese carvings in his plate said “You got first Kenichi”, but it had actually said, “You did well Kenichi”. I later told our tour-guide this, and she told me “Bless you, I can finally get it right”.

IMG_2303.jpgWinchester cathedral–The attention to detail was incredible. How long did it take to make this?

Here is perhaps what I found the most “interesting”. The school categorizes their students into two groups depending on whether they are on financial aid. They have 70 students on Financial Aid called “The Scholars”. Ok, that’s a fitting name right? But the remaining students are referred to as “The Commoners”. I couldn’t help but let out a smile on that one–tradition doesn’t care about the changing times.

The tuition is a staggering 36,000 pounds a year, but the school is a feeder school for elite institutions such as Oxbridge, Harvard, Yale etc. so for many, this is money well spent. There were so many other fascinating aspects of the school, but I’ll leave that up to your imagination 🙂

To the few people actually reading this at Vassar, I hope you have an amazing day and that we JYA students occasionally pop up in your thoughts! For the others, please do let me know if you have questions or feedback or comments~ Tata!

1/15/2017: Arriving at Oxford

“I can feel it, we’re in New York.”

I remember this quote from the movie “The Beatles” because John Lennon said this on a plane en route to America for the first time in his life, and I was watching this on a plane heading to Europe for the first time in my life (England via France). Unfortunately, I didn’t have the observational prowess that John had, and it wasn’t until the plane jolted to a stop on the runway at France’s CDG airport that I realized I’ve arrived in Europe. I later found out in my research that “CDG” stood for the French general and statesmen “Charles De Gaulle” who vetoed Britain’s entry into the European Community (predecessor to European Union) not once but TWICE. I knew that France and Britain never really got along historically, but TWICE!? You know what they say—old habits die hard.

IMG_2271.jpgChristchurch College – The college where Hogwarts’s Dining Hall scene was shot

Once I got to the city of Oxford, I thanked myself for knowing better than to go in T-shirts and shorts. I knew England was a country of style—the people, the accent, the fashion, everything was very.. “posh”. Apparently, using the word cool here makes you uncool, so you have to use a word that’s not “cool” to say something is #cool in a cooler way. ANYWAYS, people were extremely kind here, and every person I asked showed me directions how to get to St. Catherine’s College, some even pulling out their iPhones to look it up for me (Thanks Perry!).

When I arrived at St. Catherine’s College itself, I was guiltily happy that it was actually very modern. Vassar has given me my fair share of relic buildings. The college itself had white walls and lots of long horizontal glass windows (kind of like Noyes). There were large geese waltzing the lawn and one of them challenged me to a staring contest, which I lost.

img_2238                        It literally stood there looking at me for more than 20 seconds

The highlight of my first day at Oxford had to be when I went to the registration office to sign in. I opened the door, and out walked my roommate from Vassar, Clark. We had both applied to St. Catz coincidentally, and had both gotten accepted coincidentally. Turns out we were to become roommates for the second time in another country!

And here I am writing this post next to my buddy! Actually, our rooms are like a divided double with a shower and bathroom between us both, so it’s a perfect balance of privacy and company. I was quite anxious about my roommate situation, but I felt relieved that I would be sharing this experience with a friend.

Academic life

At Oxford, the program for visiting students centers around something called “tutorials” which is basically a one-hour meeting with a professor in groups of anywhere between one to four people. You have 1.5 tutorials per week; one for each of your primary topics and one every other week for your secondary topics. Most tutorials have an associated lecture session each week, so you end up having an average of three hours of tutorial/lecture time per week. Since I’m studying here for two trimesters, I will have four different topics to study so I won’t get bored! Bear in mind, I’m going off of my own experience and word of mouth from other students.

Now, you may be wondering..

“FOUR HOURS!? I spend more time clipping my toenails than four hours”, and I’m sure you do!

But, I should also mention that for me, I have to write a 2,000 word essay for each of my tutorials. Given that I have 12 tutorials per trimester, that is equivalent to writing a 2,000 word essay every four days.

IMG_2240.jpgFront view of St. Catherine’s College on a sunny but chilly Monday morning

Now, you may be wondering, “2000 WORDS EVERY FOUR DAYS?! Good thing I applied to study abroad in Japan”, but the tutorial system is actually extremely fun!

Have you ever gotten truly interested in a topic for an essay at Vassar, but you just didn’t have the time to delve deeper? Well, this program is your answer. I get to choose from a variety of sub-topics within my topic, scour my own books and articles to read for research, and write my essay with very few restrictions.

In the actual tutorial, I read aloud my essay to my professor (he doesn’t require me to turn it in beforehand), and he interjects every now and then to fill in the details or to challenge a claim. Each interjection usually turns into a short discussion, and before you know it, 60 minutes are up!

If you’re wondering, my two topics are “British Foreign Policy” and “Britain in 1900’s” so I’ve covered topics such as “Why did Britain not decide to join the European Community until 1967?”, “To what extent were Reagan and Thatcher’s governance based on similar ideologies” and “When did the decline of the British empire begin?”. Next week, I plan on writing about the success of Anthony Eden as prime minister, and about the Suez Crisis which was seen as one of the most humiliating disasters in British foreign policy.

IMG_2230.jpgMy roommate Clark eating too much dessert which he later came to regret

Anyways, each college has its own library, and there are separate libraries for each department. The Social Science Library happens to be right next to my college, so I essentially have two libraries within a three-minute walk from my room (hehe). There is also a central Oxford library called the Bodleian Library which is apparently the poshest of them all. I studied there once just so I can say I studied there once. So yeah, I studied there once.

Next post, I’ll talk more about what I actually do on my free time 😉