Day 1 (12/20):

  • This idea to go to New Orleans, Louisiana  (NOLA) came up three days before (Sunday)
  • the day before I had nearly called off the trip bc I had fallen ill
  • I drove for 10 hours and stopped in Dallas (Dallas parking lot: sheared my back bumper as I slowly eased off a short [say, 1 meter long] ramp) and baton rouge
  • arrived at a sketchy Airbnb around 11PM with the previous host leaving us with kind regards and a warm welcome by saying “treat yo-selfs to some weed-butter (weed-butter is a thing? or did he say weed and butter?) in the freezer” — come to find out there was no weed, just butter in the fridge
  • According to a Lyft driver, we were living in “the hood”

  • We watched “kill bill v2”
  • I didn’t sleep with a blanket 🙁 which probably exacerbated my sickness

Day 2 (12/21):

  • french quarter
  • state museum (influences of British, Spanish & French)

outside the museum, Andrew Jackson statue

We’re at Disney World, (no jk), this cathedral is adjacent to the state museum (which is on the right, behind me). From left to right: Fariez, Ducha, Suman, Nabihan, Me.

Day 3 (12/22):

  • our neighbor mistook me as Nabihan’s wife…Do I look like a married woman to you?
  • voodoo museum–voodooism is everywhere (voodooism created penicillin, relations with Christianity, and derived from French and African interactions (?))

voodoo doll

  • Lafayette cemetery: where they bury the dead above ground! some bodies are placed inside walls.
  • cafe de monde: first time trying beignets (powder sugar covered fried dough)–newfound love

  • first time trying oysters (char-grilled yum!)

  • first Jazz bar (sung by a half-drunken man)


Day 4 (12/23):

  • NOMA – New Orleans Museum of Art ft. Picasso, Degas, Manet, Bellini etc.
  • biked in a six person bike around park
  • another round of beignets, please!
  • watched “the Breakfast Club”

Day 5 (12/24):

  • We checked out of our Airbnb around 11AM and quickly made our way to the nearest diner: Seafood Cajun, where 3.5 scoops of shrimp fried rice and two pieces of fried chicken cost less than $5.

got lucky with 3 pieces this time 😉

  • I drove us to the border of LA so that I could nap while Nabihan drove us to Dallas. But right before I began to fall asleep, I overheard an Austrailian story via a podcast about a serial killer (and an engineer) who had committed suicide. When the police looked back at his most recent medical records, they found that he had been hospitalized for lacerations on his dick. How? Apparently, he was wanking with a vacuum. (also apparently this isn’t a novel thing to do? But I’ll never look at a vacuum the same way again). Anyway, I quickly fell asleep to the voices of Fariez saying how something in the car stunk and how Suman thought it was probably Nabihan farting again.
  • Around 6PM, we were driving through Mesquite, TX. Nabihan was driving at a steady pace on the right lane when VROOM a black pick-up truck sped by. No big deal, glad we weren’t in his way we all thought to ourselves. Soon afterward, two police SUV’s were in hot pursuit..followed by three more…and then two more state trooper and sheriff cars flew by. This was clearly not a typical speeding ticket.  As we continued to drive on, we soon noticed that all seven police cars had stopped at an exit, blocking the entrance because it had now become a crime scene. Slowly rolling by, we all rubbernecked to see that the suspect had abandoned his truck and ran into the woods. He didn’t even have time to close his door before he ran away (sorry I’m assuming his gender). Four policemen with flashlights were running on foot at the perimeter of the woods. This was wild. Bruh, this was an ABC 20/20 Live special. (I never found the news coverage–the closest things was: this ) We were all coming up with stories like: what if this guy was a murderer and he had just dropped off his body in the woods, or he was an armed-bank robber doing what he does best (bank robberies still happen? sounds so obsolete) etc etc.
  • Around 7PM, we stopped by a Malaysian restaurant called “secret recipe.” This restaurant only accepted credit cards (hmm fishy…tax evasion anyone?) which meant, we broke kids had to run to the nearest atm (0.7 miles away at a QT gas station) to grab some cash. The food was all right–spicey but tolerable. And soon afterward, we got back into the car and headed our way back hom—you thought–we went to H-Mart because every Asian needs tax-free groceries!
  • After shopping for groceries, we finally got back in the car and made our way home to Oklahoma. As I began to drive, something seemed a bit off. We all felt some shaking and vibrating from the car–consistently becoming stronger the faster I drove. I thought: could it be the engine, the tires (usually there are indicator lights that would tell you if either situation happened but nothing was indicated). I was settling around 80mph in the left lane thinking it will just be a straight ride from here…Then abruptly… BOOM! followed by a BOP! The boom was the sound of my tire being popped; the bop was something that had been ripped from my car.  At that moment, I lost control of my car. I was swerving in and out of the last two lanes (thank God no one was near me). Ducha, sitting in the shotgun, was screaming and chanting –repenting all the sins she could think of before her life flashed before her life, and Suman staring at the concrete barrier that separated the two different sides of the highway thinking that was our final destination. I didn’t make a sound. I was just praying I wasn’t going to make a fool of myself. My knuckles turned white.  within the longest five seconds of my life,  I steered the car across four lanes to the far right shoulder. I was traumatized. We all scrambled out the car to investigate the damage and saw that my tire was shredded, with fibers protruding and rubber burning. (looking back, that weird smell Fariez had noticed earlier, might have been the rubber starting to burn) A part of my back bumper was ripped off and left some of the internal parts of my car exposed. I thought to myself: could this be caused by that ramp in Dallas that sheared my bumper or could this be a cruel joke from our neighbors. Suddenly, Ducha cried out “Julia, Julia something is flying in the road! It’s from your car!” I quickly ran to fetch a small portion of my bumper nead the side of the highway when cars were speeding by. We were fortunate that we had such strong guys–with the three inexperienced men with us (well actually Suman was a mechanical engineer), we were able to replace the flat tire with a spare efficiently off the side of the highway (with us ladies holding the most important jobs: providing light). I called my dad (poor dad, so worried about me) and he told us that we could visit a nearby truck stop to buy a new tire (he thought I had replaced the tire with a donut, but really it was an actual spare). When we arrived, the lady at the desk said they only sell 18wheeler tires. But thankfully, Suman had hit up a guy working in the back who was kind enough to check the air pressure on the spare and make sure our locknuts were tight. When all was good, we hit the road again–arriving back in Oklahoma around 1:30AM.

    chopped off bumper and fibrous flat tire

*most popular post*

May 19, 2016–

We all couldn’t fit. The subway was CRAMMED and pocket-pickers galore! On the South (arbitrary cardinal direction) outskirt of the metro subway station was a taxi pickup area where, supposedly, only the legit taxis could pick us up. We split ourselves up into a handful of four people per group and dean marks gave each group 50 euros thinking that a taxi ride to the Vatican city would only be 20 euros max. Me and three other small Asian girls were initially picked up by a scruffy looking man whom saw my friend putting away a 50Euro bill [in retrospect, maybe this wasn’t the best choice—this should be a protip #0.5, its probably best to travel with a guy or at least don’t travel with girls who are all shorter than me—I’m 5’4 by the way]. He asked “need ride?” and we replied “si”. He responded with “10 euro for each? 40 euro total.” I hesitated and asked my group “wait! I thought it was only 10 euros as a whole group—did she say EACH?” of course with my doubt, my group and I assumed that dean marks meant 10euros/person so we followed the man into the parking lot (which traveler pro tip #1 NEVER FOLLOW A MAN TO HIS SO CALLED “TAXI”) On the way to his car, I turned around to see if the rest of the students had left, but I turned to see everyone exasperatedly flailing their arms, motioning us to come back! I was in a panic—now realizing that the man had scammed us—I quickily shouted “SORRY” and grabbed my group of grils and briskly walked back! (I never turned back to see the man again—we didn’t follow him very closely; we were far enough from him that he couldn’t catch up to us if we ran) When we got back we promised we wouldn’t take an unofficial taxi—that we had learned our lesson. [what a great mind set] as the first group boarded their first taxi, we hailed the second taxi to take us to “San Peiter” (AKA St. Peter). The driver, a big bald man, quickly gestured us to take his taxi. The moment we sat down, we noticed he didn’t have a meter. (RED FLAG!!! Pro tip #2, which is quite obvious, but DON’T GET IN A TAXI WITHOUT A METER!!!) As he drove out of the station, he started speaking in Italian about the strike that was happening with the general public (I could only catch a couple of words here and there with only a measly background of some rudimentary Spanish and some survival words of Italian). He said that because of these protest all public transportation will be shut down—meaning that no buses or taxis will be available. (of course this is all BS, but what could use amateurs do but just believe) Haplessly, he told us that because of this all travels around town would be a fixed price of 50 euros. FIFTY! Dude that’s more than the first guy. We knew something was up. Maryum started texting Dean Marks, explaining that this guy did not have a meter and that the price was exorbitant. I, on the other hand began to record him as we began to raise some questions about the price. He exclaimed that the price sheet was located at the station and that we should’ve look at it before boarding—we argued and asked him where was the meter?


He said he didn’t need one because everything was “fixed”. Then she asked for the receipt and he said he would give it to us later. Arguing with him was futile, so Maryum dialed up Dean Marks. So you’re probably thinking at this point surely he was surely at least heading towards the direction of the Vatican—actually he were heading the completely opposite direction. We were suppose to head south be he was taking us up north, and in this area there was HEAVY traffic. The dude was trying to buy time. When Maryum asked Dean Marks if everyone had arrived, she replied that everyone had long arrived—we were 20min behind everyone else even though we were one of the first  that left first. When Maryum got off the phone, the dude couldn’t lie any longer—he quickly said “there ees ah problemo—get out of my car” but we replied “well we told our instructor we’re on our way. Just take us there and we’ll pay you” he vociferated “no! there’s a hotel right here with parking—get yourself another taxi!” he turned sharply and kicked us out on a curb on the side of a busy street. We had lost valuable time. We walked to the nearest taxi stop. I tried to hail an OFFICIAL taxi with a woman driver but she rejected me. Then Ghaid hailed, one of the girls I was with, a taxi whose driver’s first response was “I have a meter. I can take you to San Peiers” (Aside: this guy had much better English than that other dude—he had broken English which should also mean pro tip #3 OFFICIAL TAXI DRIVERS ARE USED TO THE INFLUX OF TOURIST. THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO SPEAK ENGLISH AND UNDERSTAND IT WITHOUT TOO MUCH DIFFICULTY AND WITHOUT HAVING TO RESORT TO SPEAKING IN COMPLETELY ITALIAN ABOUT STRIKES) the man was fortunately, able to get us to st. peters basilica, but he didn’t drop us off at the place where Dean Marks wanted to meet us at, nonetheless we paid him 20euros and even allowed him to keep the extra five euros for his “coffee” then we asked for the receipt (which is called rech-aye-voo-ta in Italian) and he more than happily gave it to us. We walked another block to reach the basilica and found Dean marks. This entire taxi escapade took 45min! Everyone had waited 20min with Dean Marks, but they all left when they realized we were not coming back anytime soon.
Finally, we were able to experience the grandeur of what we had been anticipating for. At the entrance of the front door a sign read “Please be mindful: Remember that Jesus greets you at the door”. There was even a man, that upon reading that, melted to knees and kissed the door’s intricate designs of the Jesus’ life and death. The moment we stepped inside our breaths were taken away. Words cannot describe how magnificent the splendors of the basilica were. Not a single inch of the wall, floor, or ceiling was bare. Everything was extravagantly ornate. The moment you enter in immediately on your right was Michelangelo’s Pieta: a sculpture of young Mary holding the dead Jesus in her laps. Apparently Michalango (or I will call him Michy for short) created this sculpture when he was only nineteen! And of course at this time he was not famous yet but he was considered a child prodigy so the Metachi family took him.

As we neared the atrium (err maybe it was the nave) of the basilica we saw the splendors Bernini’s alter made of bronze and gold. This altar looks uncannily similar to the Ecstasy of St. Theresa (lol probably because it was also designed by Bernini). Furthermore, the multifaceted Bernini also designed the entire asp of the basilica—which meant he had control of the lighting and color and everything in-between the transepts to obtain the optimal view of the bronze-gold altar piece. Did you know that the basilica was actually the third basilica built for the pope? The first two were torn down because it wasn’t good enough to satisfy the splendor the popes were seeking. This chapel was built during the baroque era (around 1600s) however most paintings and sculptures (like Michy’s) are from the renaissance. After the mini tour of the basilica (it was relatively small as compared to the grand scale of the exterior wings – which one wing was used for security and the other was an exit) Also, there’s a clock located on left top of the basilica that chimes quarterly. Additionally, the pope continues mass at this chapel! (image coming here every week with the pope!) Afterwards we ate some sandwiches for lunch at the nearby food truck—the bread was nothing less than perfection! Joining us for lunch were a flock of pigeons, which if you haven’t known, are ubiquitous in Rome. They are big city dwellers! But of course I only attracted more by feeding them with some crumbs of my bread [poor Maryum—she was intimidated by the birds lol ironically]. After eating we met up with the entire group of students who were astounded that we were still intact and alive! We all walked to the Vatican museum that housed the Michy’s Sistine Chapel. Michy, originally known for his works in sculpting was supposed to sculpt the pope, Julius II, a tomb however pope was never present long enough to pay him.

Unbelievably breathtaking we anticipated the moment we would be able to walk inside the Sistine chapel. When the moment arrived we were astonished by the size of the building. Tucked away in a far corner of the Vatican museum was a one-man entry doorway that led to the Sistine chapel. But once we got in, guards were guiding people to not stop and stare at the walls covered in Michy’s hard work but to keep walking until we got to the middle of the room where everyone was huddled together to stare up in awe. We were also forewarned not to take pictures otherwise the guards would confiscate our phones and fine us some odd lump sum of euros

After our visit through the Vatican city we got the nerves to take a taxi back to the hotel but this time we were much more precarious. We chose a taxi driven by a woman whose English were impeccable. On the trip back she gave us a mini history lesson through the streets of Italy. With every historical piece of artwork located at every corner of the melting pot of history, Rome was impossible not to talk about. Most importantly, she got us safely back to the hotel and because of her kindness and her willingness to teach us so much of the history behind Rome we chipped in a small tip for her service. Frankly, while she was sharing the history of the city I kind of fell asleep. I woke up to my head hitting the window when she ran over some rough cobblestones.

When we got back to the hotel, we were all exhausted. We all took separate paths and went into our rooms to take a nap. Hoping to meet up before seven, my crew planned on going to dinner together. However, after a deep nap—sleeping through my alarm—I woke up at 6:45 with a terrible wife connection. I was unable to get in contact with them so I laid in bed bit longer hoping the Wi-Fi would come back. By 6:55 I received a message telling me to meet them downstairs—however when I replied back at 657 they had already left. I was left behind. Apparently I wasn’t alone, another guy had done much the same thing and his mates had left him to his endearing nap. So we decided to go eat on our own to the nearest restaurant where I had my third margarita pizza of the week in less than three days and we both split the check.

Italian word of the day: ricevuta: receipt

Get pumped! Today’s the last day of class. Looking back, the experiences were surreal

  • played pingpong for 2 hours
  • last tutorial/afternoon tea
  • punting
  • watched my third Shakespeare play (Hamlet, Love’s Labor’s Lost, Midsummer’s Nights Dream)

Breakfast was open from 8am – 9am…and I woke up at 8:55. When I had dressed and ran down to the dining hall, the clock had struck 8:59. During breakfast, you had the option of choosing a “full English Breakfast” (which consisted of scramble eggs, bacon, hash browns (seldom) and a pastry) or the continental breakfast (e.g. yogurt, milk, cereal, fruit). You usually had to ask for the “full English breakfast” and a student of Brasenose would serve you, but the continental breakfast was just a grab-and-go. So I asked a student if I could still eat a full English, and she checked her watch (which by the way was 8:59:45) and then had the audacity to REJECT me from food! Solemnly, with my lips pursed and my stomach growling, I walked out (but as I left, I snatched an apple, box of cereal (rest assure it was a to-go cereal; the smaller lunch box sized) but I forgot the spoon).

With all my food, I walked into the recreational room (AKA: JCR) and sat down at the computer to print out my final essay for my last tutorial. After I had printed out my essay, I hung around the guys and played ping pong. Who would’ve thought we’d end up playing ping pong (jungle pong to be exact) for around 2 hours before I realized I had to go to my tutorial session.

My final session with Andrea was short and sweet.

Then after lunch, my entire class (the all five of us) got together to sign an intricate card from an authentic cute stationary shop around the corner to thank Andrea. With that we headed out to our first and final afternoon tea party with her. We were served a couple of fluffy biscuits, a metal kettle of tea (English tea I presume) jelly and scones. mmm they were soo filling and delectable.

Quickly following our tea party,some of us went to go punting (a national wide sport that’s similar to kayaking but its not). Punting requires a person to stand at the end of the boat with a long (10ft?) metal hollow rod to leverage and steer. Claire, who had been on the rowing team, kayaked her way (by “kayak” i mean like lifting the entire punting rod out of the water and pushing their boat forward with kayak like strokes). Andy, Jonathan and I punted our way through the thick and with a little orr in our boat, helped me and guided me through the waters. Even though we were only able to row half way up the stream, and we switched out punters, we were able to get back to shore in the allotted amount of time before our money was lost.

Finally, I got the chance to watch my third and final Shakespeare’s play: Midsummer Night’s Dream. As the play began, we sat down on the first row of seats on the right side of the stage. As the play (played by Oxford drama students) went on, night was quickly approaching. At one of the scenes the high-spirited fairy was frolicking around, he performed a risque move–he stuck out his butt facing us, and MOONED us. He quickly pulled it back up and resumed his coltish behavior. Other than that, the play was a delight to watch. It’s rare to see happy endings in a shakespearan plays but they’re just as good as his infamous tragedies.

“Life is but a dream”



Honors in Oxford: Tutorial Essay #3

“There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy” until I saw Hamlet. For those that do not know, Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most illustrious plays. It tells a tragedy of a man named Hamlet seeking to avenge his father’s death, which ultimately leads to his own demise.


Creation Theatre’s new rendition of Hamlet was performed outside in University Parks. The play provided the perfect synthesis between the modern visual cues to successfully bridge the script and the preservation of the original Shakespearean language. The vernacular of Shakespearean English is central to understanding Shakespeare’s writing because it creates depth in the development of the characters. His distinct rhythmic structure allows their dialogues to become more realistic, creates comical affects, and reveals the character’s mental stability.
To recap: the play follows the plot of the original story with only a few minor changes: after the passing of Hamlet’s father, the former King of Denmark, Hamlet abides by his father’s apparition to avenge his father’s death by killing Claudius. Upon seeing his father’s ghost, Hamlet goes mad and his maddening insults towards Ophelia, like deserving to live in a nunnery, drove her nearly to depression. Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude, marries Claudius, the brother of Hamlet’s father, and thus a coronation ceremony is held, crowning him as the new King. Hamlet then devises a plan to prove that Claudius was the true murderer and succeeds. When he finally has the chance to speak to his mother, he notices someone eavesdropping and immediately shoots the eavesdropper. Unfortunately, expecting it to be Claudius, Hamlet realized it was Polonius, in this case, Ophelia’s mother. Infuriated by the death of Polonius, Claudius orders Hamlet to be exiled and killed with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as his escorts. However, Hamlet escapes and instead leads his two comrades to death. Back in Denmark, Ophelia mourns over her mother’s loss and allegedly commits suicide. Laertes, Ophelia’s brother, swears he will seek revenge against Hamlet by challenging him to a sword duel. Claudius then prepares a poisoned drink for Hamlet. However, during the duel, Gertrude drinks the potion and dies. Eventually, the duel between Laertes and Hamlet results in the former’s death. Ultimately, Hamlet fulfills his father’s commands and murders Claudius. With his last breath, Hamlet tells his friend, Horatio, to continue his legacy.

The play began with a vintage van cruising along the path of the park. The van was the vehicle that transported the entire story onto the field for everyone to see. Vandalized on one side of the van were some of Shakespeare’s other well-known plays including Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet. As the actors assembled their props, rock music played in the background. Their choice in goth-like clothing and style of music added a touch of modernity and a sense of foreshadowing a tragedy. Their music and clothes represented the shadow of doubts in thoughts of suicide and murder. The stark colors represent an eerie gloomy presence of death looming in the air. Of course, that’s not to say that all dark clothing is doomed to death, but the skulls painted on their faces was a key identification.

The use of guns was neatly integrated throughout the story. Like most modern plays, these guns were never loaded with bullets. Firing a blank never diminished the dramatic affects, but it also allowed the a quick and easy transition from one scene to the next. Frequently seen, guns made their first appearance when Hamlet contemplated on committing suicide. However, when Laertes asked Hamlet for the duel, it was not like the epic duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, rather it brought us back even further in history when the use of swords and daggers were common. By reverting back to swords, it stalled the scene, making the audience sit on the edge of their seat in anticipation for their next move. Nonetheless, when Hamlet killed Claudius, the sword was not needed for extra dramatization. The gun that shot Claudius appalled the viewers. The mixture was a nice addition to the overall story and never left the audience unsatisfied.

Additionally, the use of cell phones and other telephones appeared frequently in the show. It allowed the audience to relate to the situation more. Instead of using human messengers like they did in the past, the playwrights added the use of phones to send texts and make phone calls from one person to another in order to make the process of delivering and receiving messages more efficient. For instance, Hamlet was able to send Claudius a text via cell phone. By sending a text message to Claudius, it significantly reduced the amount of time spent on the delivering process of the message. Regardless of the medium Hamlet used to deliver his message, whether it be a text or by a human messenger, to Claudius, the message never lost its intended purpose.

Simultaneously, however, Creation Theatres incorporated a healthy balance of both mediums of transporting messages in order to retain the intended meaning behind the action. For example, Hamlet continued to write hand-written correspondences to Ophelia. The idea of hand writing letters, in this case, makes the letter more sentimental and personal. Hand writing letters to a loved one never fails to convey the love one has for another.

In order to maintain the audience’s attention, they were able to cut down a typical six-hour play to merely two hours, with a twenty-minute intermission. In doing so, one could argue that some of the meaning was lost due to the significant time that was lost. But this was not the case. Creation Theatre effectively incorporated ad libs to clarify the shortened prose so that even with a condensed play, the meaning would remain intact. To illustrate, Hamlet’s and Claudius’ monologues were abbreviated, yet the quality or the purpose of the message was never compromised.

With only six men and women collectively, many actors and actresses had to double up in roles, even leading to a woman having to play Horatio, Polonius, Gravedigger and Guildenstern. She mastered all the roles with ease. Moreover, because they lacked members, some of the scenes were also abridged or cut to compensate for the lack of roles available. For example, instead of Laertes instigating the idea of a duel between Hamlet and himself, the original play has Osric, a member of the court, create rules for the fencing match. Even with the short-handed staff, they were still able to convey the message clearly, thus the duel was set. In the essence of time, some of the minute details were removed, yet the clear and concise plot never failed to follow Shakespeare’s intentions.

By keeping Shakespeare’s prose rich and dramatic, we can truly enjoy his parlance. Even more so, the modern addition aided in the transition and kept the audience on their feet. Creation Theater’s rendition of Hamlet was impeccably written and played. Even though most of the play had been dramatically abridged and many scenes were deleted (like most of the long Shakespearean plays nowadays) they were all necessary revisions. With high ratings and an experienced cast and crew, they did not fail to provide another award winning show. “Hamlet” was riveting and provided a perfect amalgamation of modernity and Shakespeare’s timeless prose to create a worthwhile source of entertainment.


Today I decided to visit some 25 ton rocks.

  • bus driver notifying us that the lsat tour bus would come around 7pm and if it didn’t then they could lie in the soft pasture
  • we walked towrd the mintuare huts thwere they assumed the cavemen(?) would live. little tipies were buitl with straw and caly–so cosy i thought this would make a second alternative
  • then we ran toawardss th ebus that tooks us to the rocks.bus traversed a low shoulder, one war street for pedatrians and buses –not fit for two buses going in opposite directions. everuthing was timeily?
  • walking there with our audio, we followed the path htat went around the wrong way 98-1)
  • then we ran to the bus, hoping on just in nick of time to catch the tour bus
  • then we headed down the narrow road withsteep jmounded of dirt were piled (burried underneath were bodies of men adn womena nd chidlren) similar to egypitain pyramids and maya pyriids to commenerate the dead
  • when we arrived at our next desintation: city on hill, we walked up a hill which led to apth that circled the entire city. we nknkew we didnt have enought ime. so we cut through the grass and headed tworads the delapitated castle built form rocks (which we thought were also imported from wales since there weren’t any toher traces of rocks newarby_ all was grass terian)
  • we walked aroudn adn read the signs, found a pit stop to drink some water and taste tested odd flavors of nutella/jam (like rum and honey) then headed out into the castle and the reminents of the cathedral (befor ethey split into anglican)
  • then we walked out to the bus stuation and cuaght a city bus to the train station where liz will and i caught it back to…didcot.

It ended with Will, Liz and I stuck at the train station for over two hours waiting for a train accident to subside

we had left the train station around 7. we arrived in oxford around 10:30 makign stops at every station before finally arriving at oxford.  all the passengers from our train/cart had to all board the only train that would run thru oxford.

it would be the last time i would see liz again.


Honors in Oxford: Tutorial #2


“Where are you REALLY from,” Sellman-Leava’s voice booms as he imitates another peer; his voice echoes off the walls of the small theatre.

Joe Sellman-Leava is the writer and star of a solo show called “Labels”, which chronicles his raw and authentic story as a mixed-heritage boy growing up on the rural side of England and the relationships that were either formed or destroyed between him and his peers. Drawing on his past experiences, he examines the way words are used today, from arbitrary labels to offensive languages, and effectively communicates the need to acknowledge the prevalence of racism around the world. By arranging his family narrative amid quotes taken from the words of various public figures, allows the show to deal with broader themes.

Peppered throughout the show, he impersonates many political and public figures including Donald Trump (American conservative nominee), Idi Amin (Ugandan dictator), David Cameron (former UK prime minister), Jeremy Clarkson (British talk show host on Top Gear), and more to describe how racism has continued from history’s worst moments to modern mainstream media. As he eloquently speaks in the original accents spoken by the aforementioned public figures, he holds up placards to indicate the speaker and the year, that it was said in, that serve to highlight the ubiquity of these racially charged statements across time and space. These statements encompass issues from immigration to culture and ethnicity. By using their accents, Sellman-Leava is able to paint a portrait that shows their ludicrous acts with the best possible portrayal. His mastery of accents and his idiosyncratic speech patterns are perfect, and the humor is never derived from mere caricature, with an exception of one politician. Furthermore, he also brings issues like immigration into perspective by dissipating cards written with varies different six digit numbers on each card. As he flings the cards into the air, he imparts that the numbers of Syrian refugees had drastically increased, yet no one seemed to have cared much. Some politicians even compared them to “swarms” of bugs and felt the need to “build a wall”, labeling them as “cockroaches” and “bad immigrants”. His point is clear: the numbers are people—humans—each one carrying a value. It is unjust to gamble their lives like cards on a playing field. The symbolism he incorporates is impeccable.

Frankly, it is not just those racist bigots that apply labels to everyone, everyone is guilty of becoming slaves to the power of labels. Everyone uses them in their daily lives. Fortunately, labels do not always have a pejorative meaning. Labels are used to describe friends and enemies for evolutionary survival purposes.  Sellman-Leava uses this moment to interact with the audience on the front row by using sticker labels. Thus, he is able to effectively demonstrate the arbitrary nature of naming, categorizing and classifying others by using labels such as “boy” and “friend” on a couple people.

Everyone is a hypocrite. Sellman-Leava acknowledges this, and with a sheet of rice paper written “HYPOCRITE” he crumbles it up, chews and swallows it. The message he displays shows that the taste of a hypocrite is disgusting yet it is inside of everyone. It is difficult to swallow. Everyone, however, has the ability to suppress it, to hold it in those hypocritical thoughts.

Throughout the show, he continues to make a constant effort to interact with the audience. At one poignant point in his life, he desperately seeks to find love and thus tries a dating app called Tinder, where usually people want to find love, or better yet “approval”.  He asks for a volunteer from the audience to be his “Tinder girl”. With cue cards, they each read off the conversation he had with “the girl”. As the conversation began with Sellman-Leava greets her with “hey, how are you” it quickly escalates when she replies with “where are you from”. When he replies with a short and honest answer that he was from Devon, England, she was not satisfied and asks, “No, where are you REALLY from?” When he finally admits he is partially English and Indian, she responds “so you’re Indian.” At first, he brushed it off his shoulder and acted as if it was a joke, but with further correspondences, it was evident that she despised Indians and eventually he leaves the chat. The label “Indian” held a lot of weight–a prime example of one of those labels we use in our daily lives that can be overlooked. With such emotion and his incredible acting skills, he compels the audience to tears.

This is not the first, nor his last, encounter with racism. All through his life, he has encountered kids his age, or younger, ask why his skin was just “a shade darker” or why his dad “walked a little funny”. Even attending a university, the haunting juvenile school boy racism followed him. Oddly enough, racism never ceased to end—nor does it seem like it will any time soon. The label he was placed never left his side. A name equivalent to the “n-word” in America to describe the African Americans was spoken about Sellman-Leava behind his back. The way he dealt with these situations was riveting. He places the label on his back, and carries on the story as if it did not bother him.

As aforementioned, his mixed descent stems from his father who is Indian and his mother who is English. Intermittently, he would put on his father’s persona and talk to the audience as if his dad was talking to him. He explains the struggles his dad had to overcome just to arrive in the UK including the voyage from Uganda as an Indian refugee in the 1970s and even dreamed of becoming a pilot. As an Indian refugee coming to the UK, his father struggled to maintain a feasible living. His father had chosen to put his family as his first and foremost priority, thus he left his dream of become a pilot. He was dedicated in trying to find other jobs to support his family. However, finding a job was not easy, especially with an Indian last name like Patel.  His father was constantly jeered by men who mocked him with fake, thick Indian accents. But the way Sellman-Leava portrays him was clear that he admired him. Every time he would use his father’s personage, he would wear a blazer, indicating success and confidence, in which only his father carried.

Sellman-Leava ended on a note of hope. Through the obstacles of racism his parents had to overcome, they realized one of the only solutions was to change their surname from Patel to Sellman-Leava so they would not be subjected to others predisposed discrimination. In other words, realizing that another label is needed to reverse the original label can be life-changing.

“Labels” offers a new way of evmy english boyfriendaluating the use and effect of our words and challenges the propensity of language that either transmits ideas or is affected by it. Sellman-Leava conveys some personal aspects of his life that are identifiable, and is therefore treated as universal and understandable concepts. His show is magnificently written and performed. It is apparent with his audience’s response, press reviews and the myriads of awards he has won. He plans on spreading from the UK to the US (but so far, he only plans on going to the eastern coastal states). Needless to say, he truly is an inspiration. (I even had the honor to take a picture with him) *o*


Honors in Oxford: Reaction Essay #1

As one of my six 350 word essays, I had to write about the differences between American and British culture–so, I thought it would make a pretty descent post (at least this one doesn’t have as many typos):

The British and the Americans have many different cultural aspects, but one in particular is the way the British use their money. Firstly, British pounds come in different colors, sizes and shapes. Taxes here are included, not added. Tipping is uncommon, and their shopping bags cost money. Lastly, and the most unfathomable of all, their social class ranking is not affected by one’s financial status.

Contrary to the American currency, which include green, uniformly sized bills, the British use colorful notes. Not only is this aesthetically more appealing, but the size and color also provide a more efficient way of identifying the worth of each note, especially for the seeing impaired. Moreover, efficiency is also increased by including the taxes in the original price, so I can pay the exact amount without having to perform extra calculations.

In addition to aiding the efficiency in purchases, the British money culture is also fair. Instead of penalizing the waiters and waitresses for the lack of gratitude from their customers, the workers are paid with a consistent salary. Tips are, thus, not the norm.

Furthermore, the British also use money to deter careless usage in natural resources. Plastic shopping bags, usually made from petroleum (a nonrenewable resource), is not complimentary with most purchases, unlike in the states. Because the bags cost a little extra, citizens are psychologically less likely use them. Evidently, this system effectively cuts back on the amount of plastic used, keeping the Earth greener.

Contrary to a typical American social structure, where the ranks are usually determined by our financial standing, the British only use heritage. If I was descendent of a prestigious, or royal, British family, then regardless of my economical standing, I would be considered an upper echelon. Royalty is heritable. Only the few are lucky. This just proves that money cannot buy everything.

The money culture in the UK is far more complex and bizarre than the states’. However, its complexity allows for a more efficient system of exchange and is also used for frugal environmental sustainability. The British social standards are also not based on one’s financial standing, exemplifying that money alone does not, nor should it, define every aspect of one’s life.

  • slow and steady wins the race
  • a couple of my friends and I decided to go try out a pub (For my first time) in oxford (since we are of drinking age)
  • the first pubs we walked into..i had left my ID back in my dorm
  • after retrieving it, we went out again and this time to a more familiar place “purple turtuel
  • we had to pay a 3 pound entry fee per person. unlike the jazz club in rome, the entry fee did not cover a drink
  • we walked in and they all had a mission: take a shot of baby guiness and try the infamous and fitting brasenose shot
  • they all grabbed a abby shot and with a thrust of their head, they gulped the entirety of the baby guiness down.
  • i, on the other hand, stared in awe. they stared at me, anticpated for me to do the same…so under peer pressure I gave it a shot
  • I quickly gulped it down.. err what seemed as “quick” to me, was far too slow. they asked “you tasted it didn’t you?” and i replied “course!” and they said, “then you drank it too slowly. just gulped it down next time”
  • (next time never happened) then after sitting down and chatting, we got up again to try antoher shot. this time they were ready for the branesone. they order a shot for everyone (but substituitons were made) but me. One of my friends allowed me to take a sip, just to taste it. and the sit i had was so bitter and disgusting, i was mroe than delighted that i owuld not have to down antoehr 3oz worth of what tasted like cough medicine. once again, i was amazed (and petrified) of hwo quicly they guilped and tolerated it.
  • after taking thsoe two shots, they decided to head towards the booming music where the indoor rave was transpiring.
  • as everyone was yelling beyond decibels over the music, i abhor the scene, the music, and espically detested dancing in public. so i excused myself (saying that i would go to the batheroom) and left the loud hodagpodge of grinding people
  • i walked intot he lady’s restoom and peeked in at the sinks that were hoged by women painting their faces with bat poop (aka amscara) chicken feces (lipstick) and ofther defications form bizarre species (foudnation lol i made that up) but it was nonetheless digusting..the loo was filthy with makeup spilled everywhere…so i wondered out
  • the entrance of the underground pub weas filled with smoke of the cigerretes of underaged smokers. there was only one worker that stamped people and collected moeny. people were bgining to line up
  • i didn’t desire to continue people watching for any longer than 10 secs because A, i didn’t want to inhale too deeply of the smoke fumes and b. i was getting bored of the routine
  • so in this 21st centruy era, i quickly turned to my phoenfor comfort. but just my luck, my phone was at 2% battery. I didnt’ have much choice but to scholl through aimlessly under low brightneess through junk (i honestly don’t rememebr what i ended up doing) but before I knew it, it seemed like a long enough “abthroom” break so i headed back in
  • only to discover all my friends had goen on a scavneger hunt to look for me. i quickly apologized for my lack of tolerantce to blaring music and terribel shots that we all decided to leave the pub at once
  • my friendsd provided with solace –but this owuld not be my last pub (no the enxt one was boring. we got cider and left. i didn’t drink the entire half pint…so i wasted 2 pounds)
  • we left and then lingered in one of my friends room to talk about politics andw atch hialrious youtube videos before we realized the clock had struck two and it was time to go.

A couple days ago, I’ve acquired the “Oxford Lungs”. It’s an euphemism for saying that I have caught a cold. The built up stress (from falling behind in class), eating too much (yes i consider this a factor), and the weather (drastically colder than Italy and the states).
During the second week, I’ve been trapped inside the choking, chalk white walls of my dorm. I had wasted my weekend on day trips visitng my friends from London, and watching a musical on Sunday. When Monday rolled around, I crammed two essays (350 words each) and read for 2 hours to catch up for Tuesday. On Tuesday, I read through the needed readings for Wednesday and starting brainstorming for my essay for my 1200 word essay that was due wednesday night at 8pm. However
It’s been a struggle. I came into Oxford thinking I’d be having the time of my life but because I wasn’t able to finish all the readings (430pg of coursepacket) I suffered the consequences…ALONE. In Ochem, oh sure I was struggling and I constantly tried to study, but at least I had friends to support me and understand the struggles (probably because they were stuggling with me). But here, there’s about 42 kids with me, so I quickly cliqued up with my friends from Italy. Don’t get me wrong, the Honors kids are halarious and intelligent as Einstein but I just don’t belong. I constantly struggle inferiority complex and it’s not that difficult to tell when soemone acts a little conscedening


Adieu Arezzo! Yesterday was the day I left Arezzo and here was how I made it to Oxford!

8:00 – Wake up. Pack. Leave landlady, Germana, a thank you gift

9:30 – Walk towards the train station

10:07 – board train: Roma Termini

1:00 – board the Leonardo Express

1:30 – Arrive at Fumucino Airport

2:00 – eat lunch and say my last good bye to Mara.

3:00 – I’m on my own.

The daunting task of traveling alone was definitely life changing. I was accustomed to the first couple of steps. Check my bag in, chug my the rest of my water bottle, place all items on the bins through security then find my gate and wait. But wait. On my ticket it said “G8”.


But I was sitting in D8. After an hour passed–it dawned on me (wow I’m extremely slow). What had I been thinking (what was I on)? I was in the wrong gate area (you don’t say)! I quickly ran around the airport following the signs that led to the G section. I was stopped by border patrol officers to check and stamp my passport before I finally arrived at…a train station, inside the airport. Apparently, because the airport is so grand, some gates (or maybe it was just gate G) was in another sector of the airport. After a short second, the train pulled up and traveling over around 180 km/hr I was able to reach Gate G in less than a minute. With merely an hour before my departure, I quickly walked over to gate 8 only to find out that it was boarding for Taipei, Taiwan. When I saw the gate 8 flight attendant, I held up my ticket but before I even opened my mouth, she surly replied, “I can’t help you. Read the screen”. So I ran around the terminal and found the screen with the departure/arrival times. For some reason, I couldn’t decipher where I should’ve been. Fortunately a Cantonese Chinese lady was standing by me and (praise the Lord) she helped me find my new gate number: G13. When I reached G13 I asked an old English couple and asked them if their flight number matched mine. It did! And the old jolly man reassured me to “not to panic, the flight has been delayed” (spoken with his adorable British accent)!

After three hours (but time changes so it was technically only two), I reached the UK airport. My friend had been waiting for me in her hotel for a couple hours by then–so I quickly rushed to border control. But the moment I arrived. My jaw dropped. a line that stretched and zigzagged for what seemed like 100 meters long was waiting at the border of UK. (not to mention the moment I got off the plane I had to use the restroom) but I waited in that line first because I knew I would lose my spot otherwise. Fortunately, after a good half hour, I had my passport stamped and was ready to retrieve my baggage. (but of course I made a stop at the restrooms because my tiny bladder was running out of patience). When I looked up at the board, I saw Rome and I even confirmed it with another guy who was had just picked up his luggage. But of course (with a slow brain like mind..) after another half an hour of dreadful anticipation, I checked the screen again. My jaw dropped. I was waiting under the wrong flight number. Of course Rome would have more than one flight! I quickly ran to the larger screen (which travel pro tip #20–check the overarching baggage claiming board first and foremost — but this doesn’t have really have to be a “pro-tip” if one has common sense). After retrieving my bad I rushed to customs (which there wasn’t any) and left the airport. But halt–I needed to go to Oxford where my study abroad program would be and where my friend was waiting. But how? I asked another Chinese women (for once, I’m pretty thankful that my mom forced me into Chinese school for like half a decade–this is the second time my Chinese saved my life) who was standing at the bus station, for direction on how I could obtain the ticket. With her help, I bought my ticket and was able to board the “Oxford Coach” (coach is bus in English).

When I arrived in Oxford, near the general vicinity of the hotel, I was dropped off at the center of English’s Saturday night life. As I scooted my suitcase and lugged my backpack, I wondered through the streets of Oxford, inevitably getting lose with Siri’s poor sense of direction. Fortunately, I was in an English speaking country so I asked a local and she gave me the direction with her beautiful British accent. (Okay by now you must think I have a British accent fetish–well…I guess you’re not wrong)

When I arrived at the extravagantly grand hotel of McDonald Randolph, I was blown away by the aesthetics of both people and the place. With paintings of old portraits of past Kings hung on the walls of the dining rooms and a red carpet leading to the top of the staircase, I was in awe for a good second before the man at the desk asked “do you need help?”

My escapade ends with my friend and I wandering the streets of Oxford in hopes of finding an open fish and chips shop at 11:30 pm and when there wasn’t any luck we quickly picked up some midnight snacks (and my dinner because I was beyond famished) and then we watched some British drama before we both fell fast asleep at around 2am.

P.S >> “bella” means beautiful in Italian