Go To
 
Student Blogs

 
  Anne Reilly (Junior) | Sara Marie Kern (Freshman)  
     
  Anne Reilly is a junior history major at ENC.  She is spending the semester at Oxford University’s Wycliffe Hall.  The Council of Christian Colleges and Universities’ (CCCU) Scholars' Semester program provides honors students with the chance of a lifetime. As a Visiting Student of Oxford University Anne and others gain full-access to the Bodleian Library (opened in 1602), all Faculty Libraries, and the library at Wycliffe Hall.  In addition to their course work, many students participate in College level sports teams, clubs, and societies.  And, as Anne describes, they take excursions into England’s cities and countryside.  
     
 

March 30, 2007

Greetings!

I haven't sent out an e-mail in a long time so I have quite a bit of updating to do. I guess I will start by telling you about the wonderful time I had on my spring break in Spain. The weather was absolutely perfect: warm and sunny but never too hot. I think I may have gotten a bit of sunburn even! We spent our first two days going around Barcelona. A lot of our time was spent looking at the work of Antonio Gaudi, an architect of the Art Nouveau movement. I had done a project on him years ago and it was exciting to finally see his Parque Guell, Casa Battlo, and La Sagrada Familia. We also walked through some beautiful parks and visited the Picasso museum. We took a bus to Madrid for a couple of days, where we visited the Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, El Retiro Park, El Prado, the Museo Thyssen Bornemisza, the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor, and Plaza del Sol. At one point we even saw the king and queen as they left the dedication of a memorial to the victims of the March 11, 2004 terrorist attack.

Back in Barcelona we walked around the rest of the city, saw the Olympic Stadium from the 1992 games, climbed all the way up a hill to Castell de Montjuic, and then spent a little bit of time enjoying the beach, although it was too cold to go swimming. We went to a Catholic mass in the Cathedral, and that was a truly unique experience. I was quite excited to be in Spain after spending so much time in high school learning Spanish. I was very pleased to discover that I still could communicate with the people I met, although many of them spoke English. In Barcelona they speak a different dialect so that was a bit confusing but we never had a situation where we were completely lost. It was also neat to try some of the traditional foods, like paella, chocolate con churros and tapas.

I have to admit, however, that I was extremely excited to be back in England. Now that Hilary term is over there are more tourists than students in Oxford but there is still plenty to do. Elijah Wood (the actor who played Frodo Baggins in "The Lord of the Rings") was in town last week to film scenes for "The Oxford Murders." It will be really neat to see the movie when it comes out since I was right there! I went to a performance of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra in the Sheldonian Theatre and to an adaptation of the

Sherlock Holmes mystery, "The Hound of the Baskervilles." It was performed by a comedy trio and was very funny. I also attended a Lenten concert which included selections from Hayden's "Seven Last Words of Christ" and Buxtehude's "Membra Jesu nostri," and to a service at Christ Church Cathedral to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. On Sundays I have been attending services at a small parish church that usually only has a congregation of 10.

After some lovely spring days we have been having a rather strange spell of coldweather. This does not keep us from traveling. As part of our "British Landscapes" course we visited Stonehenge, Salisbury, Old Sarum, Iffley, Chichester, Portchester, and Fishbourne. Some of us also went for a beautiful walk in nearby Dorchester. I have seen cathedrals and abbeys, the ruins of a Roman villa and fort, and Iron Age structures. How fascinating! On Tuesday evening I went with about 25 other people to Stratford-Upon-Avon to see the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of "King Lear," directed by renowned director Trevor Nunn and starring Sir Ian Mckellen (Gandalf in "Lord of the Rings"). It was an excellent performance and I really enjoyed it.

My academic duties now consist of attending daily meetings for our "British Landscapes" course (basically a survey of British history) and for my history seminar, reading for and writing case studies, and working on my long essay.

I can't believe that in two weeks the program will be over! I will miss living in Oxford and being with this wonderful group of people. But with Easter drawing closer I am beginning to realize how long I have been away from home.

Anne

 

February 11, 2007

Everything continues to go well in merry England.  It is hard to believe that I have already been here for over a month.  In fact, we are halfway through Hilary term!  (In the Oxford system, there are three eight-week terms in each academic year.  I am here for the spring term and for an extra month just with my program after that.)

I have been having such great experiences and every day I am reminded of how blessed I am to have this opportunity.  I have really enjoyed going to my lectures and to talks by the Archbishop of York (who was imprisoned in Uganda for opposing Idi Amin in the 1970s) and Ravi Zacharias, one of today's most distinguished Christian lecturers.

I am continuing with my music activities.  Tonight I actually sang with the chapel choir of St. Edmund's Hall for their Evensong service.  It was a nice experience, and quite different to sing all of the responses.

Two weeks ago a group of us went over to Blenheim Palace, which is only about 6 miles from Oxford.  The house itself was closed but we got to walk all through the park, which is very extensive and beautiful.  We also saw Winston Churchill's grave.  We finished the day with a delicious cream tea (scones, clotted cream, jam, and, of course, tea).

Last week I saw the musical "Company" in Oxford.  It was a student production and one of the girls from my program was in the cast.  Then on Friday I got the chance to see another musical, "Wicked," in London.  I had a great time.  It is actually rather tempting to go to a show or concert every night because there are so many opportunities!  While in London I also spent some time in the National Art Gallery and toured Westminster Abbey.  I was fascinated by the latter, because in one of my tutorials we just covered Tudor funeral memorials and several of the ones I read about are actually there.

I got a special treat last week when it snowed.  It was absolutely beautiful, although the city of Oxford clearly is not used to keeping streets and sidewalks plowed.  I guess they haven't had this much snow in ten years—and it was only about 3 inches!  But after a day of winter we were back to spring again.

Even with all of the fun I am having I still miss you and I would love to hear all of the news from home.  Happy Valentine's Day!

-Anne

 
     
 

January 28, 2007

I hope everything is going well.  Thanks very much to those of you who sent emails.  I continue to have a great time here, which is hardly unexpected considering the beauty of Oxford.  Most of my time is spent reading and writing, but it is such fun to use books in the Bodleian Library that I almost forget that I'm not doing it for pleasure!

For the past few days we have had some absolutely beautiful weather.  It has gotten colder, but the skies have been blue and the sun has been shining! Before that, Europe actually was hit by a rather severe hurricane and in some areas people were killed.  Oxford got very high winds and more rain but we survived.  On January 24 it snowed here, but it is all gone now.

I attended my first lecture on January 16.  We have to attend four lecture series during the term.  I decided which lectures I would attend: New Perspectives on Victorian Culture and Society; London: Economy, Politics and Society, 1500-1720; Literature and History; and Society, Nation and Empire, 1815-1914.  I am also attending the annual Slade Lectures.  This year the topic is English Gothic Art and Architecture before the Black Death.

For fun I am singing in the Oxford Student Chorus, which meets in the Oriel College Chapel.  We will be performing Faure's Requiem and Cantique de Jean Racine at the end of term.  I also attend the weekly meetings of the Gilbert and Sullivan Society.  Every Thursday they sing through one of the operettas. So far we have done HMS Pinafore and Patience, which were both a lot of fun. The other members are so talented that it's almost like being at a real performance!  Continuing with my practice of trying different churches, I attended the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin last week and the
Magdalen College Chapel today.  I really enjoyed the latter because it was the first service I've been to in Oxford with a boy's choir.

I found time this weekend to make a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, Shakespeare's hometown.  I had a great time taking the train there and then seeing all of the Shakespeare sites.  I was lucky enough to get a student ticket for 5 pounds to see the Royal Shakespeare Company's musical version of The Merry Wives of Windsor.  Judi Dench actually played the role of Mistress Quickly and it was quite a treat to see her act in person.

My thoughts and prayers are with you even though I'm over here.

-Anne

 
     
 

January 7, 2007

I arrived safely in Oxford on Friday. I am spending the spring semester studying at Wycliffe Hall as part of the CCCU’s program here.  I am living in East Oxford at an old manor house called the Vines with about forty other American students.  I have three roommates and we have been getting along well.  About twenty other students live in another house in the town.  It is roughly a 30-minute walk to Oxford center, and it certainly is a beautiful city with lots to see and do.

So far everything is going smoothly.  We had this weekend to recover from our travels.  I've started to familiarize myself with the area, and I got a chance to visit the Oxford University Botanical Garden and the Eagle and Child, the pub that the Inklings (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams) and their friends frequented.  I went to church today at Christ Church Cathedral.  Both the service and the building itself were very beautiful.

We start a more intensive orientation tomorrow and the academic term starts on Tuesday.  I will be taking an integrative seminar in history, a tutorial on Intellect and Culture in Victorian Britain, a tutorial on Nobility and Gentry in England, 1550-1660, and a more general course called "Christianity and Cultures: Shaping the British Landscape."  I am really excited about getting started, although I know I will have to work really hard.  However, I am still planning on traveling on weekends to different places in Southern England and maybe to continental Europe over my spring break.

The best way to reach me is through e-mail.  I would also love to get letters and cards from home.  My address is 2 Frewin Court, Oxford, OX1 3HZ, England.  It would be great to hear from you!

I hope 2007 is off to a good start for you.  It is certainly going to be an adventure for me!

-Anne

January 14, 2007

A lot of things have been happening here since I last e-mailed.  Last week we continued with orientation sessions.  I know my way around Oxford pretty well and I am settling into living here.  I have to buy groceries and cook for myself but I actually enjoy doing that.

On Thursday we took a field trip to Hampton Court Palace, which is about an hour from Oxford.  Located on the Thames River and very close to London, it served as a summer palace and escape from the city for the royal court, beginning with Henry VIII.  It has been divided into six areas that explain how the palace was used by the monarchy over the years.  I toured Henry VIII's State Apartments, the Tudor Kitchens, the Wolsey rooms (Cardinal Wolsey owned the palace before he fell out of favor with Henry VIII), William III's apartments, Mary II's apartments, and the Georgian rooms, which were last used in 1737.  It was very impressive.  With over 60 acres, the gardens are even more spectacular than the buildings.  I especially enjoyed seeing the Privy Garden of William III and the Great Vine, the world's largest grape vine.

On Saturday a group of us went into London.  We walked through the city, passing Hyde Park, Mayfair, Buckingham Palace, Westminster, Whitehall, and Trafalgar Square.  We had a brief tour of the National Gallery and then took the tube to the Fire of London Monument.  I climbed the 311 steps to the top and saw some great views of St. Paul's Cathedral and Tower Bridge, even though the skies were very gray.  We ended up at St. Paul's for Evensong, which was a beautiful service, and had dinner in China Town.  It was a tiring day but well worth it.  I definitely plan to go back and explore on many more occasions.

Yesterday (Sunday) I went to church at St. Mary Magdalen's in Oxford.  It is part of the Church of England but is almost Catholic in style.  They used incense, sprinkled the congregation with holy water, sang/chanted the Gospel reading, and ended with the Hail Mary.  Their choir was excellent and during the coffee/tea time following the service everyone was particularly friendly and welcoming.

That afternoon I sang Handel's Hallelujah Chorus in the Oxford Town Hall with about 700 singers from the area.  We were recorded live for BBC Radio Oxford and filmed for a follow-up program on the reality TV show "The Singing Estate." The conductor, Ivor Setterfield, selected 40 people from a housing estate in Oxford and shaped them into a choir that sang at Royal Albert Hall.  It would be fun if I got on British TV.

I have started working on my reading lists for my tutorials, the first of which I have on Wednesday.  For each tutorial session I have to write an essay using the books on the list.  I have somewhat figured out how to use the Bodleian Library, which has a massive collection and so in most cases you have to request that a book be brought up from the stacks and placed on reserve for you to read.  It is very complicated but I have access to over 8 million books.  The lecture series starts this week and I am looking forward to attending them.

-Anne

 
     
 

Read Jennifer Ibanez's (History, 06) description of the Scholars' Semester at Oxford.

 
     

Sara Marie Kern is freshman English major at Eastern Nazarene College, with plans to be a writer after she graduates. In her first semester at ENC she has made great strides in this direction, producing the strongest essay in the freshman honors seminar, Contemporary Questions, as well as holding down a job at ENC's journalism center, where she has written articles and made contributions to the ENC Viewbook.  Appreciated for both her intellect and wit, Marie was the first student to blog for the ENC website.

Dear Diary (for the sake of having something to call you),

My name is Sara Kern. Er… Marie Kern.  .... Sara Marie Kern? My friends back home in Connecticut call me Sara, but I’ve taken to using my middle name here at school because Sara is so common. However, what you call me isn't really important. I am a freshman at Eastern Nazarene, and an English major leaning towards a psychology minor. I'm mainly interested in Writing Studies, and I work with Dr. Karl Giberson (a physics professor at ENC) as a paid intern at Science and Spirit Magazine, where he works as editor-in-chief. Prof G has suggested that I try to graduate in three years, which means that my workload each semester is nothing less than crazy. I dislike pea soup, olives, and honey, and I have a weakness for dying my hair. I cut it short just before thanksgiving but I’m regretting the decision now that the weather has turned cold. I love to read and write, snowboard and skim board, and to sing, and I almost always choose socializing over sleep.

I think that’s all you need to know to understand where I was coming from on…

December 8th, 2006.

...I am very tired.

One hour of sleep in the past 24 makes Sara a very tired person.

Remember that "Early to bed and Early to Rise Makes a Man Healthy, Wealthy and Wise" thing they used to tell you when you were little and trying to stay up late to watch an extra spooky episode of the X-Files? They should change it to "Go to sleep at some point." It would ring truer for college students.

I'm pretty sure I've never slept less than while here at ENC. I'm only a first semester freshman, and though I make sure to nap every chance I get, (a nice deep one if I'm lucky, and if the girl in the dorm next door isn't blaring "Un-break My Heart "through our shared wall) I seem to be tired a lot. Leah, my 90 lb faux-redhead roommate, a sweet spirited extrovert, makes a regular game of comparing how much sleep we get in any 24-hour period. I've always had less: she doesn't work, so she has plenty of time to nap after classes.

Last night, I didn't get any. I promised to attend a friend's voice recital at 6 pm, and had to leave it early to set up and attend the Spange & Willy Resident Christmas party. Once there I delayed studying for my cumulative Biblical History and Lit final, which was the only final I had this semester that I was actually worried about. Instead, I made a Christmas card out of a photocopied coloring book picture and a couple of pieces of construction paper. It took me two-and-a-half hours to put together. There’s just always way too much fun stuff going on.

…Which is sometimes hard to balance with the rigorous workload. My finals were made easier by classes like Introduction to Public Speaking, which didn’t have a written test—I had to write and give a final speech, but it was much easier for me than memorizing facts. Even with classes that require memorization, though, I felt more encouraged—It’s amazing how much more free you feel when a class is only a semester long rather than all year, as most of them were in high school. All semester long I was encouraged by the fact that if there was a subject or assignment I disliked, I only had to deal with it for three months.

But with coloring and Christmas movies to distract me, I didn't crack open my Bib Lit books before midnight. If you thought you heard odd sounds from the 24-hour room at the Library last night, don’t worry: it was undoubtedly just me and my classmates studying in late-night sleepless hysteria for the test that could make or break our semester averages. I admit, I dragged a little bit at breakfast this morning.

And my mother wonders why I was cranky with her when she called me this afternoon.

But she’ll see me soon, and hopefully after I’ve had a little more sleep. My last final is on Monday morning, and then it’s home for Christmas. I’m practically counting the days. Don't get me wrong: I love ENC, and I love being busy, but Christmas is just one of those things that symbolizes the freedom to sleep all day and eat too much and fry your brain on too many cartoons.

It seems the entire campus is bustling with the spirit. Everyone on my floor has either decorated their door, or their window, or is slipping Christmas cards into your room while you’re out. A group of us even made time to take the T into Boston to see the Christmas tree lighting at Boston Common. I was a little skeptical about the trip at first, because it was cold out, but Boston does tree-lighting right. They had a stage show in the commons, ice-skating at the Frog pond, and even a visit from Santa. When they finally lit the tree, they fired off fireworks, too! I didn’t know you could do that so close to the city.

Besides the Christmas tree trip, I’ve been in and out of the city this semester for a ton of different things. We make trips up to MIT for thrifting at the Garment District, or to State Street for Fenneuil Hall. I even got to see a friend of mine from high school in his Freshman Review musical production at Emerson College. Going places has become much easier because of the T.

It’s funny-- they tell you that you’ll adjust to being away from home, but when I was depressed and homesick at the beginning of the term, I didn’t really believe them. I guess this semester, with all of the work and all of the new friends and all of the concerts and plays and trips into Boston, was more than enough to make me love ENC: It was enough to make me sad to leave it behind. It’s amazing what 3 and ½ months can do.