… would not be enough to take advantage of everything Oxford as a town and university has to offer. (Let alone blog about!) I am writing now in my kitchen as a way of procrastinating from doing the real business of writing my first tutorial essay, but that will come in due time. First a little update on a few of the things I have had time for.
First and perhaps most excitingly I had my first meeting with my primary tutor. He is Dr. Noel Lobley, sound curator and ethnomusicologist as Pitt Rivers Museum. We met at the museum, where he gave me a tour of some artifacts of interest. There is a library in the museum that I will have access to as well as a staff entrance that I can use for tutorials held outside of museum hours. We talked about my interests in/hopes for the course and came to the tentative decision that we will broaden the scope beyond just Indian-British music relations and look at several aspects of ethnomusicology. This course is a one-on-one thing, so everything is flexible and he is happy to adjust it according to my interests. “Enjoy your work, take it seriously, and have fun with everything Oxford has to offer” was his parting advice to me. I think we will get along just fine.
Meeting my secondary tutor for my immigration course will take place next Friday. She seems quite friendly over email and I am sure that course will prove to be an enriching one. I asked about lectures and it turns out Oxford has a Refugee Studies Center and International Migration Institute and probably a few other related places that I have yet to discover. Seriously, everything is here.
Outside of academics and independent happenings in the city there are also more university clubs than you could shake a stick at. Many of them were on display at Freshers’ Fair last week. It took me two hours to walk through the winding tables that were set up in the Examination School, which was impressive in itself. (Lucky me that I don’t have to sit for exams this term. Could life get better? I think not.) Everything from improve comedy to a Quidditch team (there will be a national competition this November and I will totally be spectating) to scuba diving to the Indian Classical Arts Society to the Bar Society (no, not for drinking but for politics) to the Bacchus Wine Society (I am going to a white wine tasting class Wednesday night! Hopefully there is an exam for this one…) to the Walking Club to an immigrant rights club to various ethnic group clubs to the Tolkien Society… I could go on. The list is nearly endless. Plus each college hosts activities for students… There is no shortage of stuff to do between the books.
I will try to go to at least one meeting/event from every club that interests me. Since I only have eight weeks I want to see and do as much as possible instead of limiting my commitments. It will take some aggressive time management but that is a forte of mine anyway. Also, my goal of hitting as many pubs as possible is aided by the discovery of this map:
A copy of it is hanging in the OSAP office and someone was handing small printouts of it at Freshers’ Fair. Getting to every pub on the map may be a bit ambitious but that same ambition is what got me here, right?
My college diet is pretty simple. Lots of canned beans, carrot-cabbage-onion stir-fries, fried eggs, and instant noodles. Thank goodness for the Tesco generic brands! Below I am at the local Asian grocery store getting aforementioned instant noodles. I miss $2 authentic Thai curries but life moves on.
Yesterday (Sunday) I went to London with Manash, another OSAP student in the graduate program. Our destination was the Durga Puja festival, which is an Indian festival honoring the Mother Goddess (Durga) while she visits her family. Thank goodness Manash was there because a) many announcements were in Bengali and b) he was a most excellent resource about Indian culture and mythology. It was the next best thing to going to India, which will happen in due course. But this was fine for now. For some pictures and the traditional music that accompanies Durga Puja check out this short (about one minute) video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DROu21KNqc .
King’s Cross Station is behind me in the picture above and the picture below is pretty self-explanatory. There was actually a huge line to take a picture here and it almost felt like a pilgrimage site, which to some perhaps it was. Manash and I figured that since we were at King’s Cross anyway we might as well join in. There was a photographer taking professional photos as well as a guy with the scarves of the four houses. Most people opted for Gryffindor but I went for Ravenclaw, the studious and slightly eccentric house. Plus the color is Oxford blue, so it is a perfect fit. Afterward I felt oddly satisfied, as if I had secretly been wanting to do that all along.
Looking ahead: along with being Columbus Day, today was the official first day of term. Term is only eight weeks long, so time is going to positively fly by. In fact, I was a little shocked to see how very far into mid-October we already are. Halloween is creeping up on us! But for this week there is nothing too scary. My reading for my first ethnomusicology essay is done, leaving just the writing. Then I have more reading for the Immigration essay, which is due next week along with another ethnomusicology essay that will require more reading. This is definitely a system for independent, self-motivated people.
Besides the alternate reading and writing, I have some fun stuff in the calendar for this week like a free salsa lesson, free drinks with the Rock Society (as in music, not geology, though I am sure there is a club for that too), a white wine tasting/lesson, and a play called ”Juana in a Million” about a Mexican migrant in England. And maybe I will check a couple more pubs off my list along the way.