This week was one of busyness and mixed emotions. It's hard to believe that Michaelmas term is really over. I've experienced so much academically - being stretched beyond what I could have imagined before studying here. I've also seen so much of the area - so rich with history and tradition. As a romantic soul, I found so much to love in the Oxfordshire area.
Sunday, I attended church services at St. Edward's Chapel with Larry and Rhonda Kees. Woodstock Baptist Church is worshipping in the chapel while their facility is under renovation.
Sunday afternoon we had lunch at the Anchor Restaurant, which was formerly a pub and is now a restaurant. Afterwards we walked down to the canal and took some photos. Sunday afternoon and evening I spent reading research material for my final essay: "What factors contribute to civil war or revolutions?"
Monday I studied all day until 5 pm, then went to choir practice for Evensong service with the Christ Church College Choir. After the service, and following dinner at formal hall, we drove to St. Margaret's Chapel at Binsey. The chapel dates from the fourteenth century, and has no electricity. The room was lit by candles, some of which we held, while we had an Advent Service. We sang traditional carols and took turns with readings from the Biblical Christmas story. It was very moving and a perfect way to begin Advent Season.
Left: Christ Church Chapel Evensong Service
Below: St. Margaret's Chapel lit by candlelight.
Tuesday and Wednesday were all about the studying... finishing up the reading and working on my outline and rough draft. I confess to being old-school: I take notes while reading, make an outline, complete the rough draft, then edit. Wednesday night I decided it was time to get out of the house - after being housebound with study for two days. Carrie Ann had heard the Oxford college vocal group, "Out of the Blue" this summer in Edinburgh. We attended their concert at the Oxford Student Union. Their voices were phenomenal and they were very entertaining with their humor and choreography.
Thursday afternoon I finished off my last essay and sent it to my tutor by email. In total since coming to Oxford, I've written approximately 30,000 words for the twelve tutorial essays. The research, while guided by the recommended reading list, is very self-driven and promotes a great deal of independent thinking as you process the information. The more I read, the more I found myself assessing during the reading, knowing I had to be able to articulate the material both in the essay and during our discussion during the tutorial itself. I would have to say I've learned more within this one term than I ever knew was possible in such a short time.
Friday was the end of Michaelmas term. I had two administrative meetings at Regent's Park - one with the Principal, Dr. Ellis, and one with Dr. Lynn Robson, the Visiting Student Program Coordinator. We reviewed the final reports from each of my tutors, discussed my "marks" (grades) which were very positive, and talked about my experience as a visiting student to Oxford. Friday afternoon I had my final tutorial with Dr. Finlay and my fellow-American visiting student, Mina. We had another very in-depth discussion about the readings and our essays. One of the enjoyable aspects about sharing four of my tutorials with Mina, was that even though we both read from the same assigned readings, we would create unique essays, based upon our own views and perspectives. She is a Political Science major back at Georgetown University, and I am a Sociology major, so we had different aspects of the material that would appeal to us. It was sad to end this very productive learning relationship, and I admit to not enjoying having to sad good-bye to both of them. Friday night I attended the Advent formal dinner at Regent's Park.
Riding back on the bus after dinner, it struck me how fortunate I am to have been at Oxford for Michaelmas term. Fall 2013 was my last semester - once my Regent's Park grades make it back to Columbus State, I will officially be a graduate with my Bachelor's Degree in Sociology. For a mature, returning student, this has been a long process. But it is a dream fulfilled, and I am very grateful that Oxford was where I completed my undergraduate experience.
Saturday I spent time shopping for Christmas gifts, and doing some additional sight-seeing in Oxford. We had a lovely sunny afternoon, so Larry, Rhonda, Carrie Ann, and I went up to the St. Mary's (University Church of St. Mary the Virgin) tower, and got some truly break-taking views of the city. Saturday evening, we attending the Handel's Messiah concert at the church. The vocal and instrumental performers were outstanding.
I'll be staying in the U.K. for a few more days, to spend some time traveling to areas I want to see before I return home for Christmas. Oxford is a magical place - a combination of past, present, and future all merging together in an absorbing kaleidoscope. It's been my pleasure to have been a part of that for the last twelve weeks.