A Trip around Europe

Hi everyone! So I’ve definitely fallen behind on blogging, but now that I’ve had time to go through all the pictures from my travels, I’m writing a blog entry about my trip around Europe over spring break! I traveled with Liza, my friend from Smith. I also traveled with Kaveri, who was my flatmate in Madrid last summer, and Angie, who goes to Smith as well. They both were awesome and let Liza and me stay with them!

I’m putting in a lot of pictures, and they’re all captioned. I went to Holland (Delft, Den Haag, and Amsterdam), Paris, Geneva, Florence, Venice, Rome, and Athens and the pictures go roughly in order! Enjoy!















I hope you enjoy the pictures, and I’m sorry it took so long to get them up here! Soon I’ll have some more from my second term in Oxford.

London and the Cotswolds

Last Saturday, I went to London for the first time! I spent the day there, and saw Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, the London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe, and the Tower Bridge. I spent most of the day walking along the River Thames. Hopefully, I will be able to return to London several more times, since there is a lot that I didn’t see! Here are some pictures from the trip:

Yesterday, my friend Liza and I traveled to the Cotswolds, an area of England full of small villages. We went to Moreton-in-Marsh and Stow-on-the-Wold. Both the towns had a lot of very nice old buildings, and lots of tea shops and things. I had crumpets for the first time, and got to see the inn that the Prancing Pony in the Lord of the Rings is based on!

I’ve also been on two more hikes around England in the past few weeks! I saw the house C.S.Lewis lived in when he was in Oxford. Here are some pictures from those, and also from Oxford (read the captions!).


Stonehenge and Bath

Hello again everyone! Two weeks ago, I went on a trip to (you guessed it!) Stonehenge and Bath. I went with a lot of other visiting students from Teddy Hall. We spent the morning at Stonehenge. It was pretty rainy, windy, and cold, but Stonehenge was really cool! Some of the stones that were used to create Stonehenge were brought all the way from Wales. In the bottom left picture below, you can see a representation of how they think people moved the stones. It would have taken about a hundred people to move them this way. Stonehenge was built before the invention of the wheel in that part of the world! Also in that bottom left picture, you can see that the stone has a weird bump on the front face. That was ancient engineering. The stones that went on top had hollowed out areas, so that the two stones fit together and were stronger. This is seen a lot in wood, but this is the only place where it’s been seen in stone!

After Stonehenge, we headed to Bath. Bath is named for the Roman Baths that used to be there, and the ruins of the baths are still there today. That was the main place that we visited in Bath, although we also went to a Thai restaurant and the Bath Cathedral.

The next day, I went on another walk with the walking club. We went to another Neolithic site (like Stonehenge, but not nearly as famous). The main attraction was a circle of stones. Legend has it that the stones are uncountable, and so if you can count the stones and get the same number three times, you get a wish.

Last weekend, I stayed in Oxford and went to several museums. I also saw a student production of Phantom of the Opera! Anyway, I will close this blog post with a picture of some English tea I had last week.


Leeds Castle and Canterbury

Last Saturday, as the title suggests, I traveled to Leeds Castle and Canterbury! Leeds Castle was first built in the 1200s, although it’s been modified a lot since then. It’s website says that it is “the loveliest castle in the world,” and while I’m not sure that’s true (I’ve seen the Alhambra in Granada), it’s a very nice castle. Part of it is decorated like it was in medieval times, and the other part is more modern, because part of it is still in use today. By the way, I just discovered that I can put captions on my pictures. If you scroll over the pictures you can see them! I’m getting better at this all the time. As you can see, there is also a hedge maze at the castle, which was hard but a lot of fun. The castle is surrounded by a lake, which was made to be a moat for it. This is the first castle I’ve been to with a moat!

After Leeds Castle, I traveled to Canterbury. Some people might remember this as the place the pilgrims are going to in the Canterbury Tales. Pilgrims came to Canterbury to see the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury, which was destroyed by King Henry VIII. The cathedral there is very large and beautiful! I also saw the town, which has a lot of interesting (and sometimes crooked) buildings. I went inside a ‘hospital’ (at the time it was founded, hospital just meant place of hospitality) where pilgrims used to stay when they came to Canterbury. It was built for about 25 people a night, but would usually have over 60!

Back in Oxford, I explored New College today, which some of you might know as the place where Malfoy gets turned into a ferret in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire!


My amazing photo

This Saturday, I am traveling to Stonehenge and Bath, so I’ll post pictures of that trip next week!

Studying at Oxford (and a Hike)

Hello again, everyone! I have officially been in Oxford for three weeks and am starting to get settled in. Since I don’t have classes or tutorials every day, life at Oxford involves a lot of self motivation and studying on my own. My major course, for example, was taught last term, so I don’t have lectures on that material. I have to read the notes and textbooks for the class and then do the problem sets from what I’ve learned on my own. Therefore, I’ve been spending a lot of time in Oxford libraries and cafes! There are more than 40 libraries in Oxford, so I have a lot of them to explore. I’ve been in the Bodleian Library, which is one of the most famous ones, and is where the library scenes in Harry Potter were filmed. I’ve also been in the science library and the social science library, but my two favorites so far are the St. Edmund Hall library and the Radcliffe Camera. The St. Edmund Hall library used to be a church, and was built in the 1200’s! The Radcliffe Camera is the circular library I showed you in my last post, although I’m including another picture of it here.

Aside from studying, I’ve also been exploring some of the other colleges. I went into Christ Church college and saw the dining hall the Harry Potter dining hall was based off of and the staircase that was used in the first Harry Potter movie!

The top left picture below is a famous bridge in Oxford I pass on my way to the engineering building. The picture next to it is the Christ Church dining hall. The top picture on the bottom left is the staircase leading to the Christ Church dining hall where Harry Potter was filmed. The one below it is a picture of Magdolen College, and the picture next to those is the Radcliffe Camera.

Last weekend, I went on a hike with the Oxford Walking Club! We took a train to Pangborne, and walked 20 km (about 12 miles) through English countryside! The hike finished at Agatha Christie’s grave! I have pictures from the hike below. The picture on the top left is Agatha Christie’s grave.



Noughth Week and First Week


Hello from England! I’ve arrived safely in Oxford and have finished my first week of classes. I’ve been in Oxford for nearly two weeks now, so it is time to start my study abroad blog.

I am in Oxford for two terms, Hilary and Trinity. During this term, Hilary, I am taking two engineering classes. My major course is on structural engineering, and my minor course is in sustainable energy, both of which are really exciting for me.

Taking classes at Oxford is very different from taking them at Smith. Here, there are lectures, classes, and tutorials. The lectures are with engineering majors from the whole university. Anyone can go to any lecture they want. Right now, I’m taking heat and mass transfer as review, and carbon storage and sequestration for my sustainable energy course. The lectures are very large, attendance isn’t taken, and people don’t ask questions unless they go talk to the lecturer at the end. These are generally in two week series, and they’re an hour long. There are also classes, which I haven’t been to yet. Apparently these are with the lecturer and people go over example problems in them. Then, finally, there are tutorials, which are within your specific college with a tutor. I had my first tutorial today. Before the tutorial, I did a problem set, learning the material as I went along. Then we went over the problem set, one-on-one, in the tutorial.

Before you get confused about the difference between colleges and universities, I’ll explain those to you as well. Oxford University is the overall school, and every person in it belongs to a college. The colleges have dorms, dining halls, chapels, libraries, and academic buildings, and are very small. My college, St. Edmund Hall (or Teddy Hall), has maybe 400-600 people in it. By the way, the picture at the head of this blog is of Teddy Hall.

Speaking of pictures, here are some I have taken during my time in Oxford. At the top left is All Soul’s college, which is usually closed by I passed by while it was open and got to explore. The picture below it is of part of Christ Church college. The dining hall of Christ Church is the inspiration for the Harry Potter movie dining hall, but I haven’t been inside to see it yet. The image to the right of those is the inside of the Radcliffe camera, which is a large, beautiful circular library. The picture on the bottom left is one I took in the Queen street cafe, the oldest coffee houseĀ in England. The picture to its right on the top is of a quote on the inside of the Eagle and the Child, which is famous because C. S. Lewis and Tolkien used to go there. Finally the picture on the bottom right is one I took from the highest point in Oxford, the tower on the University church. From it, you can see the outside of the Radcliffe camera and All Soul’s college from above.