Sunday, November 1, 2009

My First Halloween In England

So last night was Halloween here in Oxford and it reminded me a lot of how the holiday has changed in my life since I was little. I remember Halloween being my favorite holiday, as I would roam the buildings in New York loading up on candy and treats that my mother usually threw out the next morning. Halloween here in England used to be more of a performance than just handing out candy to little kids. People here used to have to all gather at a house and preform for people. Afterward they would get some kind of reward to show the appreciation of the people hosting the event. It was not until we Americans turned Halloween into a night of excess candy collection that the holiday deteriorated. However, being the American patriot I have become over here at times, I will say that I like our way better.
Celebrating the event, I went to a bop(that's the word for party here) on Saturday night to discover a few things. Firstly, as most of the music was American, I recognized it, but the specific songs that were being played amazed me. Now I like throwback backstreet boys and Britney Spears songs as much as the next person, but I really haven't heard much of that music since it was popular back in high school. I now know who in the world is keeping the record sales of those groups still alive.
As for the rest of the week, it was rather uneventful with classes and study time with the occasional basketball playing thrown in. I found myself wondering, especially this week, what my life would be like if I rewound the clock and was back in Louisville at this time a year ago. Basketball practice would be dominating my life, as I have absolutely no desire to go through the psychical aspect again what the guys on the team are going through right now. I am not exactly sure when games start this year exactly but they are probably soon. It will be a challenging year for the Cards with all that is currently surrounding the program, but I have no doubt that they will pull through. I am still trying to figure out exactly how I am going to catch a game this year, but hopefully I can make it back to Lville for one....Anyway, I hope everyone back home had a great Halloween and is doing well.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Week Before Halloween...

First off, I just want to thank everyone who made comments/read my posts. It means a lot to be across the ocean and hear from familiar friends at home so thank you!!...So this week in Oxford marks the week before Halloween as it does back home(I didn't know halloween was a holiday here). The picture above shows a contest in the city of Oxford where little children had to design a wooden statue of some kind. The winner was a seven year old from just outside the city, I am told, and so they built his design for him and plan to burn it on Halloween. This week had a few other interesting events as the Oxford Blues had our second game of the season on Wenesday night against Nuffield. We won handidly and I promise to post pictures of the gym/team I just keep forgetting to bring my camera!!! In other events of the week I woke up this morning to find out, rather shockingly, that daylight savings starts a week early here. I have now turned my clock back an hour to make me four hours ahead of east coast time instead of five. I think that the turning of the clocks does not happen back in the states until next week, so that was a bit strange to me.
On a social note, I have managed not to be a total loser and pull myself out of the library this week for a few nights. I have managed to learn the difference between a bar and a pub(apparently a pub always serves food and a bar does not necessarily do so), and even managed to catch a Vince Vaughn movie yesterday. The movie going experience here is new to me as you have to pick your seats once you get to the theater and the movie is preceded by commercials as well as previews. Overall though the funniest thing of the day was that while watching the movie I began to think it was a little strange hearing an American accent again. Everywhere I go throughout my day I rarely here someone else to talks like I do and was weird to hear it at first. Well, the rest of my Sunday here will probably be dedicated to writing a paper and listening to Chinese dialogue(fun! ha ha), and I am still trying to find a way to watch the Yankees games on the computer at a reasonable hour...any ideas??? Tonight is a big game!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A long Way From U of L

So today was my official matriculation into the University of Oxford. It included a morning meeting at my college dressed in a suit(and yes, the gown, haha), and from there we marched through the streets of Oxford(with onlooking tourists taking pictures! haha) to the church like hall(top picture) where we officially became part of the university. I did not post a picture of myself wearing the gown(Ashton!), and if there is a picture of it somewhere out there I hope and pray that it never surfaces.
The ceremony itself was conducted in Latin so I have absolutely no idea what was being said for the hour or so we were inside the hall; however, it was a very eye opening experience in a school that is laced with immense tradition and I will not forget the experience. After the ceremony we walked back through the town and back to our college where we each posed for a photo.
On another note, while there is not too much to report on the week besides matriculation and a lot of time spent in the library, the Oxford basketball team had its first game this past Wednesday!...we took the train from Oxford to London, and then to a town called Middlesex on the outskirts of the city. After having this first experience, I missed Freedom Hall immediately. The gym was old and score was kept on an electronic clock sitting on a table in between the benches(calling them benches would be a stretch). The other team did manage to round up some cheerleaders which was interesting unto itself, but they were not very good. Rules of the game were even different as opposing players are allowed to just walk through the lane on a free throw like its no big deal. Communication with teammates on the court is also frowned upon as the referee would tell us that no talking was allowed. The refereeing itself was a disaster as there were things called that I did not know existed in the game of basketball. Ultimately though, the Oxford Blues came away with a convincing victory in our first game of the season. I forgot to bring my camera to the game, but will have pictures of that in the future. Our next game is weds.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

So I have finally arrived here in Oxford and now have a little over a week of classes under my belt. Let me start by talking a little about the university and the town of Oxford. The picture in the bottom right is my college(Linacre college) and is comprised mainly of graduate students. The university itself contains twenty something colleges that are each self governing and collectively come together to interact with degree programs making up Oxford University. Thinking about it another way, the Oxford university is set up much like the United States, with individual states governing themselves but tied together by the greater federal government. In this system I have found some strange English traditions over the past week:
1. I have formal dinners in my college once a week where I have to wear a suit and a gown(yes, a gown, and it looks ridiculous)
2. I have my official matriculation into the university on Tuesday which includes a two hour ceremony for all new students as we officially become part of Oxford. It is supposed to be three hours long and it is entirely in Latin. Should be a blast.
3. The college where I live has a bar right next to the library(I thought this idea was brilliant)
4. There are over 100 libraries here in Oxford, all of which are older than pretty much everything in the United States and rest of the English speaking world.
5. Every time I take and exam, which will be twice in the two years I am here(once at the end of each year), I am required to wear my gown and bring my cap. However, I am not allowed to actually wear my cap until I graduate, but I have to bring it anyway. Weird.
6. Nobody knows anything about basketball as I would have probably guessed and I still cannot bring myself to sit through an entire soccer game.
7. Education here is different. I have two classes a week and a few language sessions but the majority of the material they kind of just give to you and expect you to learn it on your own. There are now weekly tests or assignments, and everything pretty much culminates in two end of the year exams which determine whether you pass or not.
So these are things that I have learned about Oxford so far. On a side note I have decided to play basketball here for the university which should be interesting. We had our first practice yesterday and it is quite different than playing for Rick Pitino. For starters, we don't really have a coach right now because apparently the coach that they had last year got deported back to France and is no longer allowed back in the country for some reason. Go figure. Anyway, that's all I have for now, hope all is well back in the states....

Friday, October 2, 2009


I haven't made a post in a while, mostly due to my preparation for England, but now I am finally across the pond. I am currently doing some sightseeing/golfing in Scotland before I head to Oxford tomorrow. To back up a bit, the last few weeks in the states have been a lot of fun. I said goodbye to family and friends; I even got to shoot home to NY for a weekend and attend my first Yankee game in the new stadium. This is an especially good year for the Yanks thus far as we just clinched the division. Hopefully a future championship will be in the cards. I included some pictures below:

The first picture is of the old Yankee stadium which unfortunately be torn down
very soon. the new stadium is exciting and vibrant, still a quick jump on the 4 train
from Manhattan into the Bronx for those of you who may know your way around
a NYC subway. However, I still am a bit impartial to the old stadium with all of its
history and memories.
Switching gears a bit, my time here in Scotland has been a lot of fun. The Scottish are very polite and love their golf. Although the weather is not usually cooperative, the city of Glasgow is beautiful with its old buildings and green fields. It is very interesting to see how they perceive Americans, especially our way of life. Everything here is much more modest, even conservative, with a hint of socialist values. The golf courses here are second to none(although the weather is a bit rough and I am starting to get the sense that that is a recurring theme here in the UK) and I had the privaledge to play a few of the best. Below are photos of Turnberry, which was the home of the 2009 British open.

I will leave Glasgow tomorrow and fly to London and proceed to drive out to the university. Hope all is well back home!!!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Still Waiting...

So it is September 5th and I have about 20 days till I will finally take off. Since I last posted anything I have done a little more research about my future home and found several interesting things. Firstly, the sporting event over there that best compares to the U of L UK rivalry is a boat race between Oxford and Cambridge....I know, a boat race!! If you don't believe me I found a video online that will show you if you click here...I think this will take some getting used to. I must say, however, that where ever I go I do not think I will find anything as exciting as a UK U of L basketball game.
Those games are undoubtably something special and I was lucky to be a part of it. My favorite game had to be this past year when Edgar Sosa hit a three pointer at the buzzer to beat the Cats(which was not the play drawn up in the huddle by the way) and we all went nuts. I remember being on the wing next to him at the time he took the shot thinking, "God I hope he makes this cause if he doesn't, we are all going to get yelled at!"
Probably just as exciting as my future trip to Oxford will be my trip back home next weekend to watch the Yankees play one time in the new stadium before I leave. I am a huge yankees fan and have been since I was little growing up in Manhattan. I will say, though, that baseball and the yankees were more exciting during the 1990s before money and payrolls really began to dominate the game. Now it seems that most teams(including my yanks) will try to just buy championships.....geez I really went on a sports tangent with this post!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Almost Time To Go

In an attempt to keep in touch with people around the world that I know and love I decided (in a non narcissistic way) to start a blog detailing my time spent in New York City and Louisville, as well as my future trip to the United Kingdom. In the UK I will study at Oxford and find out if I can find anyone to play basketball with me instead of soccer(oops..Football). I am in the process of making the blog more visually appealing, but bear with me as I am in the middle of packing for a two year hiatus from the US.
I want to start off by talking a little about my time at the University of Louisville. I have spent the past four years here in Kentucky and I have learned a few things as a student athlete. First, Rick Pitino is a phenomenal coach and it was a life altering experience playing for him as a Cardinal. There are countless stories that I could share about intense conditioning or hard practices, but ultimately, he equipped me with the intangible qualities of life better than any academic. That is not to say that my knowledge has not grown exponentially from the faculty at U of L; on the whole I have found that the university receives far less credit nationally than is warranted for its academic prowess.
To all of my friends and teachers at the University of Louisville I would like to say thank you as I approach a new chapter of my life. Kentucky, and specifically the University of Louisville will always have a special place in my heart an remain a home for me in my mind.