game of thrones

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No English bulldogs as of yet

Oxford is always full of tourists, but on the weekends the town really comes to life — especially on the pedestrian shopping streets. Whilst wandering (slowly) among crowds of people speaking a motley of languages, I came across these buskers: The Two Busketeers

They were a great encounter, and a warm welcome since the first hours of my Saturday were dominated by a dreary rainfall (first rain since I arrived on Monday).

The streets around the colleges were strewn with gowned persons holding caps in hands and wearing large (and relieved?) smiles — students who just matriculated. It really is quite a sight, and regretfully I did not capture a photo. Never fear! I am sure there will be many more opportunities.

The first week at Oxford has been good — although I am often reminding myself (or being reminded) that even though I am in another country this is most certainly not a vacation. I am here to study, to work, to be productive, and all of those things I like to think I have accomplished thus far. In one week’s time I have only been out at night once — some of the OU Honours kids and I went to a pub (we tried The Turf but it was much too crowded for our group, so we ended up at The Chequers) then on to The Purple Turtle night club for a dancing. Also when not working, I’ve been occupying my muscles at either the Iffley Sports Centre’s Powerlifting Gym, which is predominantly college boys doing squats and deadlifts,  or Oxford Powersports Olympic Lifting Gym, which greeted me with this sign:

I guess they had a bad CF seed visit them once. HOWEVER, besides the welcome sign they are a great group of very strong men (and a couple ladies) who are extremely encouraging and funny and have some great advice for my technique issues. One of them was just named “Britain’s Strongest Man.” Another just placed 4th in a British Oly Meet. Another guy dead-lifted 300kg x2 right in front of my eyes. A couple of them also train with me at Iffley. I’m meeting locals! Yay!

I did NOT see the last installment of the Harry Potter series, yet (to be remedied soon, Loves, soon). Some of the students here did, and one of them even dressed up like Harry. He was quite convincing. Before they went to the show they paid the admission fee to Christ Church college, where much of the first 2 movies was filmed (dining hall, great staircase…).

I have, however, been stealing away to the nearest bookstore every now and then to read (chapter by chapter) the latest George R. R. Martin book! It’s like my little afternoon treat to myself. 😀

But really I’ve been spending my days at the recently renovated Ashmolean Museum! They’ve re-thought the way a museum should be organized and the way objects should be displayed. More of a cross-cultural interactive learning experience than a display of really old objects. Read about it! http://www.ashmolean.org/transforming/

Before I even stepped foot inside a single exhibit room, I first entered through the “Study” entrance. I was led up quite a few flights of stairs to the study room in which 5 vases and 1 sherd awaited my attention! The staff apologized for not being able to have prepared a few of the items I requested to view since 2 were off-site, 1 was not in an easy location to remove from display (the giant lekythoi display case), 1 was hiding somewhere in display (same location), and the others were prominently on display (I had assured them they need not remove anything for my personal study which was already on display).

notice the missing lekythos front row on the left (removed for my study)!

Needless to say, I was allowed as much time as I wanted with those objects, and they were a glorious few hours! When I was done, I still had a little time left before lunch at Brasenose College, so I took advantage of the wonderful location of the study room exit (inside the Special Exhibition) to peruse the objects in the “From Heracles to Alexander” exhibit. The Lady of Aegae really is something!

The Ashmolean occupied much of my week and weekend, as I went back a few times to see all I could see. They have Titians, a Tintoretto, a drawing of Michelangelo’s, wonderful Buddhas from India, a Samurai’s armor from Japan, an incredible collection of porcelain, the “Messiah” (finest Stradivarius there is) among other incredible musical instruments, an amazing collection of Greek vases, Sir Arthur Evans’ Minoan finds, Chinese calligraphy, Byzantine jewelry, the smallest portable Qu’ran I ever did see, and many many more highlights that I just can’t mention here otherwise this post will never ever end!

I still haven’t been to the Natural History Museum to see the remains of a Dodo bird! This is on my list!