“This is really great. You should enjoy it.”

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Port Meadow. 27 January 2015.

First off: how on earth is it already the end of second week?

I keep reminding myself that I still have 8 weeks here, but I know that it’s going by quickly (as all good things in life do), and that I will be so sorry to leave. It’s very easy for me to get caught up in the future–not necessarily worry for what will happen, but sadness for fading pleasures. It’s strange how even in my happiest, most contented phases of life, there is still a seed of doubt in my mind, whispering this too shall pass.

Neil Gaiman said once that when he was at the height of his Sandman comic success, Stephen King congratulated him by saying “This is really great. You should enjoy it.” And he realized that he hadn’t.

Best advice I got that I ignored. Instead I worried about it. I worried about the next deadline, the next idea, the next story. There wasn’t a moment for the next fourteen or fifteen years that I wasn’t writing something in my head, or wondering about it. And I didn’t stop and look around and go, this is really fun. I wish I’d enjoyed it more. It’s been an amazing ride. But there were parts of the ride I missed, because I was too worried about things going wrong, about what came next, to enjoy the bit I was on.

With this in mind, I have constantly been trying to live in the moment while I’m here. To recognize the beautiful, challenging, once-in-a-lifetime moments I get to experience while studying at Oxford. I don’t want to spend my whole time abroad thinking about how sad I will be when I am eventually not abroad.

On that happy note, here are some wonderful and challenging moments, so far, that I don’t want to forget:

  • I’ve established a habit of talking to my umbrella. Audibly. When it’s raining, my umbrella becomes my most important companion, and I literally encourage it out loud to be strong and to persevere.
  • I took a walk through Port Meadow the other day and had a glorious epiphany about how much I love myself (in, like, a healthy way). I love that I can keep myself entertained in my own mind–that I can find my own company as engaging as other peoples’. I also love that I write melodramatic poetry in my head as I walk by trees and fields and rivers, and that I can trudge through muddy terrain in tights and a skirt with the excitement of a five-year-old.

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    Aforementioned trees and fields and rivers.

  • A tutor complemented my writing style and my ability to organize an essay. Thank you Mrs. Brown and Write Right for that one.
  • Baking is a cross-continental pleasure for me. Figuring out conversions is not. (Honestly, America. WHY NOT JUST USE METRICS?)
  • A few days into my stay here, I was walking down the street and a woman asked me for directions. I had absolutely no idea where to lead her, but it felt nice to know that I seemed a natural part of the city.
  • One of my favorite weekend novelties is watching tourists take pictures with selfie sticks. They brighten my walk to the library every time I see them.
  • I have fallen back in love with English, or rather, I’ve been reminded of the lost love I never have time for as a film major. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten this much pleasure from researching for and writing essays in my life because I’ve never been so genuinely intrigued by the topics I’m studying.
  • I’ve already read Jane Eyre and Agnes Grey in their entirety for my primary tutorial. I’m halfway through Wuthering Heights now. By the end of term, I will have also read The Tennant at Wildfell Hall and Villette. I am more in love with the Brontës than ever.
  • For my secondary tutorial, I’ve written a paper on female authors of the romantic movement, and will be covering a plethora of different poetic topics in the next few weeks (abolition poetry, labouring class, nature, nation, etc.). I’ve never written essays for poetry before, which makes me a bit nervous when I submit them, but I find the works so interesting. It’s mind-boggling that the romantic poets (and poets in general, for that matter), can put so much into a ‘simple’ collection of words. I wrote my first essay thinking that I had deeply analyzed the poems within, but after my tutorial, I was so absolutely amazed at everything I hadn’t even considered.
  • I eat so much bread and so much cheese. And I convince myself that it’s okay because it’s organic and local. I have no regrets.
  • Greens Cafe, right next to The Eagle and Child, has become somewhat of a second home for me. It’s nice to have a place where people recognize me, and where I can get coffee and read for hours while feeling entirely comfortable and productive in the setting. Thank you, Greens.
  • I’ve discovered how absolutely pointless cotton is. In my possession, I have five cotton sweaters that I’ve had for ages, and that have always kept me sufficiently warm in Southern California. I also have three wool sweaters that I bought right before leaving for Oxford. Can you guess which ones I wear everyday, and which ones I can’t even wear outside the house because they do absolutely nothing?
  • Already, I have accumulated far to many books. I came here with so many great intentions of not buying any, because they are heavy, and take up space, and etc etc etc. I have no self control, as evidenced by the stack of books balanced precariously on the corner of my desk.

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Those are just a few moments. Everyday, there is beauty all around me and I hardly know how to take it all in. There are also moments where I feel entirely overwhelmed and far busier than I expected upon coming here. It is all really great. And I am enjoying it!

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