I remember the day I first heard about the chance to study in Oxford. I was a bright eyed and bushy haired freshman, and as the professor (who happened to be the advisor for the program) described the opportunity every nerve in my Hermione-ish self stood to attention.
Travel in England?
Meet people from all over the world?!
Study literature at Oxford?
He had me at “cheerio.”
Fast forward two years, and here I am: exactly one week away from boarding the plane to a great adventure.
It still feels a bit unreal that a week from today, I will be ordering my inflight cranberry juice and pulling out my book. A week from tomorrow, I will be boarding a bus with a bunch of people I don’t know, but hope to know very well very soon. A week from Saturday, I will be set out on the old streets of Oxford, well worn by many centuries and the feet of many influential people. I hope those streets and I will be friends.
The wonder of this experience is not lost on me. I am incredibly lucky– nay blessed!– to be at a school that offers this as an opportunity to study abroad. I know it is a privilege, but in my heart of hearts I feel mostly that it is a gift– specially wrapped with a bow on top. It feels like an interlude in the midst of my wondrous and cacophonous college years, and I want to treasure it.
I have been pondering what it is I will come away from this time with; I feel a glorious sense of expectation and ignorance as to what the time will hold. These are things I hope the time holds:
Favorite tea and coffee shops.
New dreams and convictions.
Take-your-breath-away beauty in places I’ve never been.
Surprising life long friends.
Favorite corners in libraries.
Introduction to new ideas and stories.
A deeper revelation of the Jesus that works in America and England.
Challenges and practice in writing and communicating.
Fish and Chips.
It makes me smile to write these dreams, wishes, hopes to God. Who knows what’s to come.
We’ll see. We’ll see.
This morning a customer came into the coffee shop with a well pressed suit and a tell tale Oxfordshire accent. I asked him where he was from, and sure enough he had grown up in Oxford and attended Oxford at Saint Peter’s college. I told him I was attending Oxford this fall, and he paused and said:
“Remember to look up, and to look behind. Look up because it is easy to get lost in the bustle and rush of High Street, but you have to remember to look up at the meaningful architecture, beauty and gargoyles. And behind, because you must remember to leave the center of town, and explore the colleges themselves– they are full of beauty and history. Don’t forget to roam gardens, and soak in the stories of the places you live in.”
I can’t wait. I look so forward to looking up and looking behind.
The road goes ever on and on…
In the meantime, I will take this moment to announce that I will be (doing my best to) update this blog at least once a week, on mondays, with the most recent adventures, revelations, and pictures of my time in Oxford. If you wish to keep up, feel free to follow this blog.
I will also be starting a facebook page for small updates. You can find that here:
Off to pack, soak up my family and friends, and check off doing all the things on my lists of “things I will miss from home.”