I’m pretty sure that you can gather from my title that I’m extremely content at the moment. I really don’t think that a better combination exists in the world!
I cannot believe that it’s already November. The weather here indicates otherwise. It’s been sunny (I’m not entirely sure that I’m in the right place) and there’s just the right amount of crispness in the air for fall. It’s gorgeous. Whenever I’m walking around the city (I think I walk 2.5 miles per day), I just have to smile because everything about this city is just fantastic. I know, I sound like such a fan-girl. But, there’s really no other way to describe Oxford as a city, let alone an academic experience. My tutorials are going well; in my History of the English Language class, I had to translate Caedmon’s Hymn (the oldest Old English poem – don’t listen to what your high school teachers tell you about Beowulf!) in two different dialects and then argue which one was older and support it based upon linguistic evidence. This week, I had to analyze the influence of Old Norse in the Old English lexicon. Talk about a fascinating subject! I was dismayed that I wasn’t able to engage with primary sources like I did last week, but I still loved the topic nevertheless. My Age of Bede tutorial is…well, it’s going. I royally messed up my first paper. The paper was atrocious; there are no words for it. However, my tutor, Hugh, was really nice about it. He said that even though the essay was disappointing (that’s putting it kindly), he knew that a) I knew the information; I just lacked incorporating that information into my paper and b) it was my first history paper at Oxford. My next paper for that class is due on Thursday, and I feel so much more confident this time around. Now that I’ve been here for four weeks, I’ve been able to develop a schedule so that I’m not going crazy with all of this free time. Now I know how I need to schedule my studying time (which is basically all day) and also how to schedule my writing time. Even though I’ve had a bit of difficulty adjusting to the free-time aspect of this schedule, I think that I’ve finally found my balance. Furthermore, my classes have inspired my topic for my Senior Thesis.
In addition to getting to know the Bodleian quite well (I’m never leaving. EVER.), I swear that I’ve had some form of a social life (however meager it might be). I made the Ballroom Dance Team, so I’ll be competing for the rest of the year. Dancing is quite different over here than it is in America (the major difference is contact), so I’m still adjusting to constantly holding my frame for Ballroom. Latin, however, is quite similar to Rhythm. Also, I went to London to see Seamus Heaney talk about “Beowulf” at the British Library. That was such a magical night. There was also a performer who literally sang “Beowulf” in Old English and accompanied himself on a lyre. You know, just another night in London. And you all think that Medievalists are strange…
Speaking of Medievalists, Holy Cross CISS (Center for Interdisciplinary Studies) has confirmed that I’m insane. I designed my own secondary major of Medieval studies that combined Medieval literature, history, philology, philosophy, and theology. For those of you who don’t know, CISS allows you to create your own major provided that you include classes from at least three different fields; you’re also required to have two faculty advisers. The most frightening aspect of this entire process, though, is that my senior year is now literally mapped out. I’m glad that I finished all of my core requirements by the end of my sophomore year (to all underclassmen and prospective students: I urge you to do this!) because I’m taking English and Medieval studies classes for my last two years. It was just frightening to look at a piece of paper and see the rest of my Holy Cross career mapped out before my eyes. But we’re not going to talk about that. One of the really awesome things about having this double major is that I’m required to write my Senior Thesis on a topic that addresses both of my majors (I could write two theses, and as much as I would love to do that, I don’t think that I realistically can). Right now, I have two options in my head. One of them is exploring the phenomenological and existential natures of the writings of Julian of Norwich and Flannery O’Connor. The other one (which has actually been inspired by my Age of Bede class, actually) is exploring the syncretism of Anglo-Saxon paganism and Christianity in Anglo-Saxon poetry. I think I might want to specifically focus on the theology of the body for this time period (a la my Tolkien essay from last semester). My proposal isn’t due until March, so I have some time to solidify what I want to do.
All right, I need to read some more of Creepy Bede (don’t ask. The answer is very long and very complex). Until next time!