Monday, May 31, 2010


I am probably the last person on earth to see Harry Potter!  I had resisted the series for years, but for no particular reason.  Given that much of the series was filmed in the UK, and many of the Hogwarts scenes were filmed at (or inspired by) Oxford, I figured I should go ahead and see the movies. I'm on the first film right now, and enjoying it!  The dining hall of Hogwarts was recreated based on the dining hall of Christ Church at Oxford.  Also, the Bodleian Library at Oxford, where I'll be studying, was used for Hogwarts scenes, as well.   I will definitely be a Gryffindor, not a Slytherin.  ;)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hotels for London and Paris are Booked!

Jared and I have booked our hotels for our stay in London and Paris!  This is a HUGE weight off my shoulders because I have spent hours and hours (literally) researching hotels trying to find a great price, convenient location, and clean and safe place to rest our heads at night.  Here's where we'll be staying:

LONDON:   July 24 - July 28

Caswell Hotel
25 Gloucester Street, London
$413 for 4 nights
Free wi-fi, continental breakfast, twin room with private bathroom 
Located near public transportation and not far from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace
Hotel Website

PARIS:  July 28 - August 1

Hotel Villa Fenelon
23, Rue Buffault, Paris
$351 for 4 nights
Free wi-fi, continental breakfast, twin room with private bathroom
Located near public transportation
Hotel Website

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Course Descriptions & Reading Lists

Oxford has posted the reading lists for each of the summer classes!  See below for the reading lists for each of my classes, as well as the descriptions of the courses, and bios on the professors.

(Note:  Click on the boxes to see the images in their entirety.)

The Changing Face of Britain:

Human Rights in Perspective:

I'm excited because both of these courses sound really interesting to me.  I think i'll enjoy the coursework!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Schedules, Lectures, and Seminars, Oh My!

Oxford has posted the schedule  for our lectures and seminars!  Here is the schedule:

(Note:  Click on the images to view them in entirety.)

My classes are "The Changing Face of Britain" and "Human Rights in Perspective", so I will have classes only on Mondays and Wednesdays, with lectures every weekday.  Here is a further description of the lectures and seminars, as provided by Oxford:

Let's do the math here:
     22.5 hours of lectures
  + 24 hours of seminar meetings
  + 96 hours of personal study time
  = 142.5 hours total  / 15 weekdays in the program 
  = 9.5 hours per weekday of school work
  = YIKES!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pre-Departure Orientation

Pre-departure Orientation was held on Saturday, May 1, 2010.  I found it really helpful, and it has made me even MORE excited for this experience (if that's possible)....

Upon arrival at the Johnson Center (GMU Fairfax Campus), I checked in, met my program's Faculty Director (Dr. Erica Jacobs), and received some free stuff (a travel book about London and Oxford, a t-shirt, and a satchel).  

The first part of the Orientation was a large group session with students from all summer study abroad programs.  There were about 100 students in attendance and it was interesting to hear about the other programs (Japan, Philippines, Cost Rica, etc.).  They showed a "Safety and Study Abroad" video with basic safety tips and had a campus physician discuss medical precautions.  

Then, everyone met in classrooms with only their program participants.  Dr. Jacobs led the Oxford session and gave us some very useful information and let us ask some questions.  I was disappointed that I didn't really get to meet the other students.  It was very business-like in nature.  It would have been nice to have everyone introduce themselves, say what program they're in, etc.  So, I still don't really know anyone.  I did learn some useful information, though:

- Most of the Oxford participants are graduate students (yay!).
- The school organizes weekend trips for us, but we won't know what those are until we arrive.  Past students have organized their own trips to Ireland, Paris, and other locations.
- Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, and dinners are a more formal, sit down affair.  All meals are served "in Hall".... Hogwarts!  Yea!
- There are formal opening and closing ceremonies for the program.  Formal attire required! 
- My classes (The Changing Face of Britain and Human Rights in Perspective) will be on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  You're only in class for 4 hours/week (2 hours/class), but there are also morning and afternoon lectures that are mandatory every weekday.  They say most students spend an average of 96 hours of personal study time in the program.  (I did the math.  That's over 6 hours per day if you only count weekdays.)
- We'll receive a reading list sometime soon.  They recommended doing all of the reading before arriving at Oxford.
- There's no guaranteed internet connection in the rooms, but they do recommend bringing a laptop for guaranteed computer access.  Wi-fi is available in computer labs and common areas. This might damper my dreams of keeping in touch with people via Skype.
- We'll have access to the Bodlein library, one of the largest and most renowned libraries in the world.
- In addition to the course load at Oxford, graduate students are also required to complete an additional 10 page paper upon completion of the program, which is due 1 month after the end of the program.

I'm sure there's more that I'm forgetting, but those were the hot topics.  Can't wait!