Hello! My name is Carlie, and as the domain name might have suggested, I am currently an American living in Oxford. More specifically, I am a first-year (or fresher) graduate student doing my M.Phil in Modern British and European History.
And if the above sentence hasn’t clued you in already, yes, I am a complete and total nerd. Don’t get me wrong, I say that with absolute pride. Our time is coming, and we shall inherit the earth!
But I digress (which will probably happen a lot if I keep this blog up.) Let me start off by saying that this is my first blog-Yes, virgin-blogger right here so be forewarned! What I’m hoping is that over time, the blog will kind of settle into a standard format. I’ll try to be consistent and thematic in my posts, but as I don’t know what’s coming my way each day, anything could happen (suspense!).
Here’s a little more background on me: I am originally from Virginia and did my undergrad work at a beautiful little college called Randolph-Macon (please, please, please do not refer to it as Randy-Mac as it sounds like a bad McDonald’s order). I graduated with a BA in, you guessed it, history in 2013. I am 25 years old, and as of today (9/30), I am on my second day of living in Oxford.
Now some of you may be asking “Why are you, by American standards, 3-4 years older than the average first-year grad student?” Excellent question!
Well, as with my most of my stories, it’s kind of long, but I can give you the highlights. I graduated high school in 2007, and like the rest of my friends, was planning on going to college that Fall. My choice was a school in Pennsylvania, which out of courtesy and respect, I will not name, but I ended up hating it and decided to leave. It was nothing against the college, but it just WAS NOT a good fit for me.
However, this turned out to be a moot point because in November 2007 my mother ended up having a massive stroke, and as a result, I spent almost the next 2 years taking care of her. Now if any of you are thinking about feeling sorry for me, don’t. My mom was my best friend and literally the coolest, funniest, most outrageous person ever.
Her condition improved gradually, and I was able to reapply to colleges, getting accepted to R-MC in 2009.
Now for you math people out there (I both envy and despise you :-P), you may have figured out this still leaves one year unaccounted for. Well, you’re right. Even though I graduated from R-MC in 2013, I did not come to Oxford until Fall 2014. This is because during my first round of applications to grad schools (Oxford was not a part of it), I did not get accepted ANYWHERE! Yes this was a huge blow to me and my enormous ego, but if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that when life slaps you in the face, you figure out a way to come back and kick it in the balls.
So, as my mom’s health had started declining again, I decided a gap year would be good so I could focus on her and try reapplying the next year. Well that’s just what I did, and while I had a similar experience with most of my grad schools as before, Oxford came through, and it was an absolutely surreal, dream-come-true moment. It wasn’t just my ego (which as I said is inherently enormous) that made this so exciting, but since my area of history is Reformation England, there is literally no better place to be.
Unfortunately, with the good always comes the shitty, and in this case it was the death of my mom less than 2 months before I came here. It was devastating and horrible, but she had been so sick and in so much pain for so long that dying in her sleep was all I could ask for. I couldn’t do much to relieve her pain in life, so I am thankful that now she does not have to suffer anymore. That being said, I am not particularly religious, despite my fascination with religious history. I am totally fine with anything and everything people want to believe or not believe, whether you are of a devout faith or an atheist does not matter to me. As Ricky Gervais so adoringly says on one of my favorite shows, Derek: “I’ve met people who believe in God that are good and that are bad. And I’ve met people who don’t believe in God that are good and that are bad. So, just be good.”
That’s my basic philosophy: just treat people with kindness and do the best you can with what you’ve got. Beyond that, I don’t sweat the details.
Now coming back to the main reason for this blog: Oxford. If there’s one thing I learned as an undergrad is that in writing, you must first define your terms. So I figured I should tell you, to the best of my ability, what this blog will and won’t be about.
To put it quite simply, this blog will be about me and my experiences, daily successes and fumbles, and general navigation as an American student studying in the UK. Now that being said, I want to clearly establish that I am not trying to sum up the typical experience of an Oxford student, because frankly there isn’t one (about 1/3 of students at Oxford are international). We come from all different backgrounds, nationalities, ethnicities, and we all experience the city and culture of Oxford in our own way. We all have our own stories and me blogging about mine does mean I hold it to be better or more interesting than anyone else’s. It is just mine.
All I am trying to accomplish with putting out this blog is to not only give people something interesting or fun to read (hopefully!) but also to help me make sense of the crazy roller-coaster ride that I am currently on. It won’t be perfect or without pain, but with any luck, it will change me for the better.
Now if you have found any of this intriguing, please feel free to read on and immerse yourself in my journey. I will try to update as regularly as possible. I am hesitant at this point to suggest a time frame due to the fact that I am in the midst of two weeks of orientation, after which my tutorial starts. And once that happens, I have no idea how much time I’ll have each week or each day to devote to this, but I promise you I will do my best.
Best wishes, luck, and love to all of you, whoever and wherever you may be and in whatever you are doing. I appreciate beyond words you taking the time to read anything I’ve written.
“I expect to pass through this world but once,
Any good I can do,
Let me do it now,
For I shall not pass this way again.”
-19th century Quaker quote