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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Fleming

Summer Across the Pond

Hiya! I hope the start of October finds you well. As we get into the swing of fall (hopefully – it's still in the 90s here in Norman!), I wanted to finally share my summer travels on the blog. As many of you know, I spent a month this summer at Oxford taking an Honors course. Though it's been almost two months since I got back (!), I figured I'd still share some of my stories and pics for those of you who haven't seen them yet (plus give an update on the start of the school year).

The course I took at Oxford was taught by the dean of the Honors College and covered World War I – definitely a departure from my usual field of study, but quite interesting nonetheless. There were 45 OU students in the program but only 15 in my class, the perfect size for discussion. We were housed in the beautiful Brasenose College dorms, home of the Radcliffe Camera (pictures attached), and luckily each had our own room. Dinners were served in the lovely dining hall and were sometimes followed by some croquet on the lawn (I was almost the croquet champion – second place!)

Exploring the city of Oxford was a lot of fun. Highlights included punting down the River Cherwell, listening to chamber music at nearby Christchurch, admiring the artwork at the Ashmolean Museum, walking among the cows of the English countryside, savoring high tea, strolling through the many lovely meadows and parks, and trying out the local pubs (including the oldest, est. 1242). I can't say I'm a beer gal yet, but I'm getting there. ;)

I was also able to go on a number of weekend trips since we had four days off. The first weekend, a group of friends and I took a short train ride to rainy Bath. There we toured the ancient Roman baths (of course), saw Jane Austen's house (now occupied by a young family who were very excited to have visitors), viewed an interactive art exhibit in a beautiful ballroom, strolled along the canals, and indulged in some delicious Greek food. It was well worth the day trip!

The second weekend, I had a quick afternoon in London with my World War I class at the Imperial War Museum. It was a super well-done museum covering almost every war England has partaken in (so... most of them), definitely worth a visit if you've never been. After that, some friends and I traveled up to Edinburgh (after sampling some tasty Indian food near Kings Cross Station). I loved exploring the so-called "Athens of the North" despite the cold I caught during the second half of the weekend. Highlights included a group walking tour, hiking (most of the way) up Arthur's Seat, watching the sun set from the top of Calton Hill, exploring the many museums, doing some shopping and – more interestingly – building my own purse, and touring the Edinburgh Castle.

Before I knew it, the program was coming to a close. I'm so grateful I was able to go – I made some great friends and lots of wonderful memories. Luckily, my trip was extended with a family vacation to Keswick in the Lake District (in northwestern England). Keswick was beautiful, green, and cool (perhaps a bit too rainy for our taste!) We enjoyed taking a boat ride around the lake, visiting the Museum of Illusions, biking to Castlerigg Stone Circle, and marveling at all the vibrant flowers. We also took some mini trips to other towns in the Lake District, including picturesque Grasmere (home of some famous gingerbread) and Ambleside. All in all, it was a fun family trip and a welcome respite from the NM and OK heat!

Back in Norman, all is well. I can hardly believe that I'm a junior in college! This semester, I'm taking Modern & Contemporary Architecture (an architectural history class focused on the last 200 years or so), GIS Applications (continuation of my GIS studies – I'm currently working on a project for the Oklahoma Attorney General's office mapping domestic violence in Oklahoma), History & Theory of Urban Planning, Historic Preservation Planning, and Ballroom Dancing (I'll be a pro in no time. Dancing with the Stars, here I come!) The school year is in full swing and I'm really enjoying my classes. Everything else is uneventful other than my final trip of the summer...

Aidan and I went to Las Vegas last weekend for a music festival! We had lovely weather and an uneventful trip, though we were pretty worn out by all the walking and Vegas-ness by the end of the weekend. In the few days we were there, we walked along the Strip (including through most of the hotels/casinos), rode the roller coaster at New York New York, visited the wax figures at Madame Tussauds, saw the famous Las Vegas sign, and enjoyed the experience at Omega Mart (Las Vegas's version of the interactive art exhibit Meow Wolf). It was a fun way to end the summer, but I was definitely ready to be home by the end.

That's all I have to report for now! I'll add plenty of photos of my travels. Hope all is well with you and I'll keep you posted. Thanks as always for reading!



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