me in the ME

the semester of fun, sun, and Arabic

But where are all the scones?!

So I jetted off to England for a very untraditional Spring Break- it was awesome. I spent the first four days in London, crashing on Duncan’s floor (thanks dude!). We ended up moseying about mostly but managed to catch the highlights of a bunch of things. Even having been to London and specifically some of the same museums before, I definitely saw new things. Reason #1? We got old. This was the first time I’d been unsupervised by anyone (parents, teachers, family friends- I’ve done them all). Plus, I turned 21 the first day of break! Seriously, where did the past year go? We’re not really that old but we’re definitely getting there and it’s craaaazy.

Reason #2? This was the first time I barely planned. Totally not like me at all and OK, that wasn’t the plan. The truth is I just ran out of time since I finally decided I was going to England maybe 3 days before I left. And then there were midterms and surprise moving as well! But it ended up being great. Other friends were visiting at the beginning of my trip and then others were popping back to England before leaving again so there was an ever-changing stream of people to keep us occupied.

Some highlights:

Borough Market– I’m literally obsessed. I would be the broke-ist and happiest person ever if I could go there everyday. So much cheese, wonderful jams, breads, meats, pasties, pies… Plus, there are samples of everything! I managed to resist since I wasn’t going to be in the area long enough to finish something but Duncan succumbed to unpasteurized cheese. Seriously a must-see.

British Museum– I love love LOVE the British Museum. I’ve been twice and still haven’t seen the whole thing because the place is massive! 990,000 sq ft in area and 2 miles of exhibition space. I went to the less cool side this time around so I saw more European development and prehistoric things as opposed to the Elgin marbles, Rosetta Stone, Greece, Rome, and Mesopotamia. All still very cool though. And there were mummies involved!

V&A Museum– One of my favorite museums as well. This one I had no idea it was so big! We were running behind schedule (as usual) and just popped in for an afternoon. So many things from all over the world. The V&A is special because they have a lot of interactive things, so you can try on peasant clothes, or touch reproductions of carvings. This time when I was there, we managed to find a whole hall of marble statues, clothing through the ages, lots of products from Iran, photographs of British lives and crazy strong yellow spider silk. Which was a tiny, tiny fraction of what was there.

National Portrait Gallery– I had wanted to go here because of a special exhibit that was happening called “Imagined Lives” where authors made up stories to go with portraits of unknown sitters. In reality, we managed to wander around the entire gallery not finding it until we asked. It actually turned out to be quite small and tucked away in a back stairwell but some of the stories were interesting. Terry Pratchett even wrote one!

Camden Market– OK, I may just really love markets. But Camden is crazy! It’s also really several different markets that all connect with over 1000 shops, so it’s easy to get lost, turned around, have absolutely no bloody idea where you are. Whereas Borough is solely food, Camden has all sorts of things. Duncan and I split some Earl Grey and hot cross bun flavored liquid nitrogen ice cream which was awesome and we also saw a stall that sold mini-pancakes with different toppings/dipping sauces. I should have known better but I couldn’t resist a used bookstore with its fabulous selection of cookbooks. One would think that I would know by now that books are not the easiest things to haul around. I only ended up buying 5 the whole week though! That’s progress, right?

Since Duncan and Nick were leaving on a trip of their own, I set off for Oxford to see my friend Lauren. I’ll put it out there- before I went I was biased towards Cambridge since I did a summer program there a few years back. That was also the first time I ever heard of the little matter known as the Cambridge-Oxford rivalry. I must have been living under a rock, I know.

But Oxford turned out to be just as awesome! I was only there for a day and a half so I didn’t really get to explore as much as I would have liked. Somehow I managed to only step foot in 2 of the 38 colleges whoops! There were lots of pretty pretty buildings though! I had the worst luck with buildings I did try to go into though, somehow managing to only pick churches undergoing massive renovation and restoration inside.

Lauren and I did end up taking a tour of the Oxford University Press which was super cool! No actual books are printed there anymore but just the history of it was great. There were a ton of films from the 1920s and so you could actually see how everything was made. And I had no idea the Oxford English Dictionary became the guiding force behind the press’s actions and business moves. Our guide was super knowledgeable and I highly recommend going on the tour if you’re in the area. It’s even free!

Something I didn’t realize during my very limited planning for the trip- It fell on both Passover AND Easter. The things I don’t realize when I’m not at Tufts. Fun fact: this was the first year I haven’t given something up for Lent since I started college. It’s ironic considering this was also the first year in college that I was living with a Christian family. Easter wasn’t as big of a problem except more things were closed but I felt really bad when I got to eat “real” food that wasn’t kosher for Passover when I was in Oxford with Lauren. One night we did have a matzo pizza party though! Incredibly, this may have been only the second time I’ve ever made matzo pizza. I keep telling myself that I’ll keep kosher for Passover for at least a day…next year. And it’s so easy at Tufts because it’s set aside special. And there’s kugel, one of my favorite things on Earth! Then I get tempted by bagels and other delicious leavened products. But really, next year? Maybe!

I ended up loving Oxford just as much as Cambridge, and I’m glad I don’t have to choose between living in one of them! I adore little towns and the English countryside. I gawked like a baby at the fields (so much GREEN!), there were sheep and horses… it was wonderful. More than ever I want to get rich, buy a castle in England, and live out the rest of my days there.

And now I’m back! Classes start again tomorrow (yikes…) and I’m pretending that I’m ready. It’s going to be a fresh start: two new professors, a new living situation. I moved into the dorm today and so far things seem really nice. Things are looking up here in Jordan!

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