Tonight has been the first night in a long time that I haven't been writing a paper or reading a book, and it feels wonderful. Tomorrow is my last tutorial for Hillary Term. I believe it's safe to say I've officially survived. The past eight weeks have been the most rigorous, enriching, and, at times, horrible weeks of my life. I have learned so much in two month's time, and not just about Political Philosophy and the Holocaust. I've learned to embrace another culture. I've learned to look right first rather than left when crossing the street. I've learned British people don't move out of the way when you're walking down the sidewalk, so you have to be just as aggressive if you want to get where you're going. I've learned that a hoodie and tennis shoes are not suitable attire for going to the grocery store. I've learned that HobNobs are quite possibly the best biscuits ever created, and Cadbury mini eggs are most delicious when eaten late at night after having drinks with friends at Cambridge.
I've also learned a lot about myself. After being in another country for two months, I know I CAN do it. I remember going back and forth about whether or not I REALLY wanted to do this. There were days I was completely against going to Oxford. I had spent far too much time away from home, and I did not want to miss out on making memories at Jewell. I would have missed out on even more had I not made the final decision to get on the plane and fly across the Atlantic. Of course there are days when I really want to go home and see my friends and family, but I know they're thinking of me and they're proud of me. That gives me enough strength to make it through one more day of reading, writing, walking a million miles, and everything else that comes with being here. And when I get back, I'll appreciate what I have all the more.
I've been doing a lot of self reflecting over the past few week, having realized that next year I'm going to be a senior and will have to start planning for the "real world." I've been considering the idea of applying for Teach for America for quite a while now, but I haven't convinced myself completely of being capable of taking on such a task. Today in tutorial, when I was in the middle of reading my paper, my tutor stopped me and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was caught a little off-guard, as I was reading a paper about Nietzsche's political philosophy. I said I wanted to be a journalist. He replied, "I think you would make a very good teacher." He went on to say that I had a way of connecting with people, and that it came through in my writing. He said it was a special gift and he would hate to see it go to waste. I told him I was thinking of applying for TFA; he said he hoped the desire for teaching would stick. I could not have imagined receiving a better compliment. It really made me feel like, "Yes, I am making the right decisions about where my life should lead." It was the assurance I had been praying for, and I had an immense peace as I walked through the parks on my way home.
I'm sure you are all loving reading about my epiphanies, but you would much rather know about the fun things I've been up to, so I guess I'll move on to that now. Yesterday we went on an all-day excursion to Broughton Castle and Syon Park. It was wonderful to spend the day in the English countryside. The weather was perfect, and we all had a terrific time relaxing after working so hard all term. The pictures at the top are from the trip. I really don't know exactly what to say about the castle and park without sounding like a tour guide. Broughton Castle has been used many times by various film crews. Scenes from "Shakespeare in Love," "Three Men and a Little Lady," and "Made of Honor" were shot there. There was even a portion of the wall in one of the rooms that had been constructed for a movie set to cover up some pipes. The owners of the castle didn't like the pipes either and decided to leave the pretend stone after the film crew left. I never would have noticed the difference had he not pointed it out. Syon Park was absolutely gorgeous; I could have spent all day taking pictures there. It made me really excited to go to the Forest of Dean with Will. I can't wait to explore more of rural England.
...Which leads me to the best part about term being over. It's time to travel! Will arrives late tomorrow night, and I'm meeting him in London Saturday morning. I've been furiously booking trains, planes, buses, and hostels, as well as finding directions to and from everywhere. I have all of our confirmation and ticket information in a folder arranged chronologically. (That's for you, Ginia.) I can't wait to get on the bus to London and begin my first official Eurotrip. We're going to London for the first couple of days, then Amsterdam, then Paris, and finally Bream and the Forest of Dean. We'll be in Amsterdam of St. Patrick's day, so what better way to celebrate than taking a visit to the Heineken Brewery, right? Apparently we can "be the bottle" and see the step by step process of how beer is made. It will be an educational St. Patrick's Day. :) I am most looking forward to going to the Louvre while we're in Paris. Ever since I read the Da Vinci Code, I've wanted to see it. I had the special illustrated edition with pictures from the Louvre. I can't believe I'm actually going to be there in just a matter of days! And another thing we have to do is buy a big baguette, some cheese, and a bottle of wine and sit by the Eiffel Tower and people-watch and just take it all in.
So anyway, that's what I'll be doing the next couple of weeks. I'm going to cut myself off now, so I don't begin a novel. I apologize for the rambling. Hope you all like the pictures, at least. And so to bed.