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March 02, 2009


Well, here we are in 6th week. Time is flying, and it's hard to believe the term is winding down. However, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on where I am. I never really get tired of thinking about it, but with essay deadlines to meet, friends to see, activities to attend, and places to explore, it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle, temporarily. Then I come up for air and look around, and I love what I see. Oxford is a beautiful town. Okay, maybe not all of it, but I never get tired of walking among the old stone buildings or past the Oxford University Press every day (such a bastion of literature and history). I don't know the history behind every building, or the stories in every square, but it's enchanting, nonetheless, to walk through the street market and imagine a tradition stretching back a thousand years. My college, New College, looks like a castle itself. Its old stone walls, massive gate, vaulted wooden doors, and echoing passageways could have time-warped out of the past. One of my tutors has her office in a tower, up a narrow spiral staircase. Everywhere I look, the architecture, design, and colors bear witness to a past that I am privileged to follow. I love my home in Phoenix, but a fifty-year-old city just can't compete in the imagination with this modern medieval town. Then there are the fields and the meadows and the rivers floating in the mist that to a desert rat like me seem like a mirage or a movie. It's such an amazing thing for me to be here, and it's an experience I will never forget.

Of course, frustrations come, and the rain can be annoying. Slush in the streets that closes down a country is quite an interesting phenomenon. When the heating doesn't work, or the stove doesn't work, or the shower doesn't work, or you have three essays due in a week, or your credit and debit cards all decide to quit on you at the same time, or your bike refuses to unlock itself from the rack 2 miles from home, things can get testy. But what would living be without these experiences as well, and there's always the kabob man in the square, serving lamb doner that blows your mind. There are the great friendships, the camaraderie through the stress, and the times when your friend exclaims, "My quality of life just went through the roof," or howls in agony and then systematically hunts down and murders the fly that landed in his soup. What can I say? I wouldn't trade these times for the world.

Chris Van Egmond
Fellow, Hilary Term '09

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