Archive | February 2012

Travel Bug

Sometimes maintaining a blog can be hard work. I mean it sounds all fun and games, but unfortunately it is the first thing to go by the wayside when the work starts piling up, even if the said pile-up is self-inflicted.

I realized the other day that I have been in Oxford for the entire term. I haven’t traveled, even around England, except for dance competitions and those definitely do not count. I found this to be quite tragic. Wasn’t the whole purpose in coming to Oxford, after the education of course, to travel the world and expose myself to new cultures? I think I have a decent handle on Oxfordian culture at this point, so I’m itching to get away for a few days. And getting away to just another location in England doesn’t seem to be quite far enough.

Enter crazy idea: there are three days between Blackpool and my final tutorial. There (at the time that this idea struck me) are four essays that need to be completed by the end of term. Brilliantly stupid plan develops to complete all the term’s work before Blackpool and spend those three days in some random country that hopefully speaks English and hopefully with a friend. If friend cannot be found, pick a really safe city.

I’m almost there too. Three of the four essays have been written, though I am a little concerned about their quality and I’m a bit shell-shocked from not having seen the light of day in a week despite the beautiful weather here. I have a massive spreadsheet of which flights are feasible and affordable to a wide range of European destinations. I have the tentative blessing of my parents. All I’m really lacking…someone to go with?

But I don’t know if that will stop me to be honest. I need to jet off out of Oxford! I need to see the world! I need to not slip when doing a push up and bite my lip because it still stings! I’ll keep everyone updated on how the last second travel plans develop, and hope that someone sees this and decides that a mini vacation before a vacation is just what they need as well πŸ™‚

Orange is the New Red

We all know from our years of painting color wheels in elementary school art classes that when you mix red and yellow, you make orange. But however logically I knew that, it didn’t make the trick that light was playing with my eyes on Saturday any easier to reconcile. You just don’t expect the yellow lights of a gym to be so drastic that they cause you to see everything that should be red as orange, or pink ballroom dresses suddenly become an odd shade of salmon/coral. It really messed with my brain all day.

Of course, having given no background information as to what I was doing in a gym on Saturday, I need to go back to the beginning I suppose. Saturday was the infamous SUDC, or Southern Universities’ Dancesport Championships, basically the regionals to IVDA’s nationals. We’ve been pretty much training for these two competitions the entire time we have been dancing. Yes we had earlier competitions, but no matter what we did at them the ficus was always “At SUDC and IVDA”. These are the big ones, and yeah it was big.

The competition was held in Bath, thankfully only an hour and a half away so we had the luxurious pickup time of 6:45 am. Unfortunately I didn’t sleep a wink that night so I didn’t get the benefit of the later time. So I was absolutely exhausted the entire competition day, and Dan’s foot was still injured, making our dancing even more pride-inducing. Because beside to what my over exaggerating mind felt were all the odds against us, we danced more consistently and better than we ever have. Our ballroom coach agreed too! Our waltz and quickstep were smooth and we were able to solidly pull off the hardest moves in our routines while maneuvering around a crowd of 32 Beginner couples (the competition was extremely poorly organized, for some reason combining the two middle heats of 16 couples into one idiotically large one of 32). And it was so much fun dancing the whole time. I mean we always have fun, but this one just felt different. I’m not sure why. But the way dancing felt completely negating that we only semifinaled in the two ballroom dances. The scores ended up not being important anymore.

Like I said, the competition was poorly organized, so we ended up not starting Latin until two hours later than we were supposed to. Latin always seems to go by faster than Ballroom for some reason, but oh my goodness some of the dances were LONG. We had a 2:30 Jive round, even though regulation is 1:30. I’m pretty sure every Beginner collapsed in exhaustion after that one. We did really well in the end, being the only Oxford beginner couple to semifinal in Jive (that one I was sad about, first time we haven’t finaled in Jive) and then placing 3rd in Cha Cha! We’ve been working so hard in Cha that placing the highest we ever have was such a validation of all our hard work. And since none of the Beginners were competing in the team match at this comp, it was also our last dance of the night so our feet had a bit of a rest. Well, not entirely true. Dan and I did dance in the last waltz of the night, but that was a hilarious failure–you try dancing waltz in Uggs and sweatpants!

It was our most consistent, and we both feel best, showing at a competition yet, the perfect segue into IVDA in a few weekends.

Of course, in typical post-competition fashion, I pretty much slept all day yesterday. I think I’m fighting off some illness because I can’t seem to talk or stay awake for longer than a few hours at a time. I try really hard but then I just pass out in a dead sleep. So I wasn’t able to help Jordan, Janosz, and Kelsi with the brunch and dinner traditional cooking, other than doing some chopping prep work I was relegated to entertainment and sitting still duty. But I will say that the food was delicious and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……………………………………..

Happy Friends’ Day

Yesterday was a day entirely devoted to hanging out with friends. It wasn’t intentional either, not like how some girls decide to do an anti-Valentine’s Day thing and tout the whole “we’d so much rather hang with our girls today!”, though in all honesty the Valentine’s Days that I’ve done that have been the most fun. This just happened to work out nicely where I had the perfect mixture of being productive and being social. Ah if only every day could be so balanced.

I had lunch with my friend from orientation wayyyyyy back in September who thankfully extended her one term stay to the whole year. She is also the person who got me hooked on the dirt chai’s from The Missing Bean so Chaizi must absolutely love her! In honor of that momentous achievement on her part, but really driven by our need for caffeine, we met for lunch at the Bean, snagging a coveted table as soon as we walked in.

Accomplishment #1!

We haven’t seen each other since term began so it was awesome to catch up and fill each other in on our respective sports and lives outside of academics and sweaty hobbies. The hour and fifteen minutes before she had to get back to work completely flew by, and all too soon we parted ways, promising to get together one more time before spring break. Unfortunately with our schedules once may be all the times we can squeeze in.

Rachel, Bizzy, Xin

The next item on the friend agenda was dinner out with some of the ballroom dance girls. We invited everyone, well all the girls, but only five of us could make it, which ended up being perfectly enjoyable because it was the group of girls I seem to hang out with the most. We went to Pizza Express for dinner and then to House for a cocktail (amazing raspberry collins! Damn you Bizzy for getting me addicted!) before running to GnD’s to say hi to two other friends from the team and then scattering on to the rest of our night. I love these girls, seriously always have a good time with them. And shockingly we don’t spend the whole time talking about dance, though yeah it is a prevalent topic, but with how much we do it that is entirely understandable. I’m really looking forward to hanging out with them more outside of Dancesport, which we are already making plans to do.

Me, Pippa

Partner has had a friend visiting him from France for the week, and she and I got on really well when we met on Saturday at the bop and since she was leaving today, I decided to trek to Dan’s place to hang out for another hour or so and say my goodbyes. We got into some really interesting conversations; she really is lovely. Just a genuine and fun person. Hopefully in Trinity term Dan and I can go visit her in Lyon. Any excuse to travel in my book!

So by the time I got home last night, I had definitely had a great share of time with friends yesterday, thus my christening it new holiday πŸ™‚

Wine, Champagne, and Chocolate

That’s one trio to beat the 5th week blues. I really cannot believe that I am in my fifth week of my second term! Technically this means I’m halfway done, though it certainly doesn’t feel like it with another essay always right around the corner. Though this does mean three weeks til Mommy comes πŸ™‚

Last night Kelsi and Janosz took me to a Wine Circle wine tasting. I’ve never gotten to go to one of the tastings because I’m usually in Latin rehearsal, but as this was a Monday I was free. The wines were all from Schloss Grossburg vineyard in Austria. Almost all of the wines were white wines or rieslings, and I’m not really a huge fan of the lighter wines (totally a red wine girl myself) but it wasn’t so much about liking the taste of the wine as learning about discerning it. And as much as the presenter talked way too much, I enjoyed hearing about the history of Austrian winemaking and this vineyard in particular.

It is such a different language to wine. There’s the level of maturity (did you know wines go through puberty?), the different scents, is it heavy or light, weighty or thin, consistent throughout, drops out in the middle (yeah Kelsi!), acidity, oakiness, balance, your head literally spins with all these different dimensions by which to evaluate each sip. Of course, being a newbie, I listened more than spoke, but was able to identify the scent of passionfruit in one of the wines, and medium roast coffee and cloves in the only red.

For the longest time, I kept thinking that everything smelled faintly of raspberry and almost waxy, then I realized that it was my chapstick. Not wearing chapstick to one of these things again! But the highlight of the night was the Eiswein dessert wine that was so good I can’t even describe it. Totally worth sitting through a white wine tasting just for that. Can’t wait to go to another one!

Today was obviously Valentine’s Day and it really didn’t phase me at all, so it was basically the same as any other Tuesday except for that I skipped lecture. Then there was a quick meeting with the Dancesport board to work out some kinks for IVDA (and our captain gave me the prettiest roses, awwwww ❀ ) before a ballroom rehearsal with Partner. The night ended with pink champagne and chocolate with Janosz, Kelsi, and Jordan to celebrate…well, us, duh. We’ve been on a friends-turned-into-family-love-fest kick lately. So champagne and chocolates is the best way to celebrate!

Kelsi spiked our food!

Not really, but she may as well have since the four of us giggled more today after dinner than we ever had. And it wasn’t even like one of us had some sense still in us, we all were just crazy people. But completely mellow crazy people. Kelsi and Janosz told us that this is what we would be like if we were high, so I guess we would all end up asleep in Kelsi’s room cuddling with Janosz. Worse things could happen to us.

We continued our weekend binge on each others company with yet another brunch and dinner party day. Ironically, both meals involved leftovers from yesterday. Buckwheat pancakes and eggs for lunch, osso buco (or in my case osso bucco sauce over a chicken breast) with leftover goat cheese risotto for dinner. And then the best chocolate fudge balls from this site called Chocolate Covered Katie and dessert wine for dessert. Janosz pretty much went into a food coma/wine daze, which may be how we ended up all cuddling with him and not wanting to move. My friends are just soooo cozy.

Today wasn’t all about food though. It’s a two essay week AND the Southern championships for ballroom this weekend so I wrote one of my papers today, and it’s going to be an interesting tutorial to say the least. Basically my essay is supposed to be on prosocial behavior and whether it is motivated by altruism or egoism, and I say that it is entirely egoism but not from a social psychology perspective. I say instead that the strongest argument comes from biology and natural selection, essentially Darwinism. Yeah I know I’ve probably bored most of you, but remember that this is a SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY course and I just wrote a paper kind of saying that the social psychology explanation is useless. Oops. Hopefully she stills likes it!

Overall it was kind of a great weekend. Fun but productive and put me in a great spot to start the week off right πŸ™‚

Sneak peak of the week ahead…wine tasting, shopping, two tutorials, lots of dance rehearsals, SUDC, a musical…and who knows what else is in store!

Bikini in the Snow

It was a really dumb idea. In all seriousness, how stupid would it be to attend a bop in a bikini top, grass skirt over jean shorts, and a Hawaiian lei, when two days earlier it had snowed?

Answer: really stupid. Solution: Change your mind last minute and don’t dress like that.

And that’s the Oxford brain at work. I went through all that trouble getting my friends to donate articles of clothing for a costume for the Keble MCR “Beach Party Down Under” Australian bop and then chickened out of my costume anyway. Oh well for all the guys there, but I was not going to become a Jenna Icicle for their entertainment. Of course part way through the night, as the small MCR filled with more people and the temperature of the rooms rose accordingly, that bikini top was sounding pretty good. But alas, I had already made my decision and was actually happier for it.

Normally undergraduates don’t attend graduate student bops, but Dan is my awesome and older dance partner so I went as his guest. He has a friend visiting him from Paris so it was a cool chance to hang out with her and attempt to get dirt on my dance partner (there isn’t any). The beginning of the bop was that typical awkward stage where no one is drunk enough to dance yet and since I really don’t know that many people in the MCR that I’d feel comfortable just walking up to and chatting with, I ended up hanging back for the first hour and kind of just people watching. Most people would be surprised to hear that I can actually be quite the wallflower since apparently I have a reputation for being a professional party guest (no idea how that one got started! πŸ˜‰ ). Suddenly I looked around and was partnerless, and therefore automatic friendless, and so I had to shuffle into another room to try and find him. I wasn’t successful, but I did find the Canadian whose birthday was last week during the Super Bowl party and he and I ended up backed into a corner talking for a solid hour. That is always my favorite part of parties, those random but awesome conversations with people that you would never expect to happen. Unfortunately he had to leave pretty early so I then was once again abandoned and alone, no dance partner in sight.

Thankfully yet another dancer on the ballroom team (actually now that I think about it, two of them) found me and rescued me from yet another bout of wallfloweritis. And we found Dan. And another ballroom guy. Yes! Dance party time πŸ™‚ This is where the temperature skyrocketed and I only lasted about another 45 minutes before my exhaustion and overheating kicked in to the point of forcing me outside into the cold for good. I was having a great time, but I also hadn’t slept in two days and the heat was lowering my blood pressure too much and I decided to leave. Unfortunately this now means that Dan is in possession of half of my life’s worth of stuff in his room, but at least I trust him enough to not have to worry that my camera will be lost for all eternity. Overall, another awesome night out with Partner at Keble.

Why was I so sleep deprived? you ask. Not entirely sure, but I know that I got a whopping two hours of sleep after rehearsal Friday night and so during Saturday morning rehearsal (at which we danced particularly well!) and the entire rest of the day I was so sleep deprived that I started acting my British shoe size, which is about a size 3 1/2 or 4. Meaning my friends all had to essentially babysit me. Luckily I have awesome friends who are all proving themselves to be great future parents. No one trusted me with cooking so they kept me away from the stove and knives and smiled lovingly when I said things like “Oh yeah the France was from wine” instead of the obvious correct “Oh the wine was from France.” They still let me go out last night, but it was with hugs and reassurances to be safe and make sure I was able to get a reasonable amount of sleep (I did by the way, so I am now up to my American shoe size of 6 1/2, much more manageable for a bunch of 20somethings to watch over).

This whole week, and I am apologizing for the gushiness for a few sentences, has really proved to me just how much my group of friends here has become my family. I absolutely love them and am so grateful to them all xoxo

Let it Snow!!!

It’s snowing in Oxford right now! Of course I am sitting snuggly and warm at my window, watching it progressively fall harder, so I am not actually out in it but get to enjoy its beauty from the comfort of my own room.


I should make some tea. Tea seems like the appropriate thing to drink when it’s snowing right?

I know that everyone else will probably be complaining about the snow for days because I’m sure that it can be a nuisance, but I’m a Southern California girl who has really never seen snow, so to me it is still practically the 8th wonder of the world. And oddly enough, snow means that the next day or so will be warmer than it has been (apparently it can be too cold to snow?). So I’m going to continue being the giddy little girl I am at heart and hold onto that as long as possible rather than become the jaded anti-snow fuddy-duddy.

Plus I just watched two older men Squeegee their windshields which was pretty funny.

Also totally just stuck my head out my window to catch snowflakes on my tongue πŸ™‚

I Stepped in Snow!

It has been quite the week and weekend, so this post may be on the longer side, aka it is definitely going to be long and I applaud anyone with the patience to read through the whole thing. At least I will guarantee that it will be more interesting than Madonna’s halftime “show” at yesterday’s Super Bowl, which inspired my speedy exit from the Keble MCR.

But more on that later.

Reaching all the way back in the recesses of my memory to Wednesday, we had our second crew date of the term with the boat club from Christ Church. SuchΒ an improvement over the debacle of St. Peters. I think it’s almost a signal of the classier standard that I didn’t end up with yet another tie or bow tie in my room at the end of the night. And I just realized how potentially inappropriate that statement could sound. We went to the college’s Hall dinner, which honestly gets the award for the worst of the three formal dinner’s I’ve eaten at a college here.

Christ Church Boat Club and Beginners Dancesport

Apparently dinner is better when at the High Table or actually cooked by the chef, but at Teddy we get the same dinner as High Table and our chef is awesome so…we win πŸ˜‰ The guys were all really nice and polite, not rowdy or drunk, and were great about putting up with umpteen conversations about ballroom dancing, though they did have a weird obsession with our shoes. Afterwards we went to the Christ Chutch bat for drinks. You’d think that once in the bar, things would get a little more like a typical crew date, but no, they stayed classy and gentlemanly, one even let me borrow a sweatshirt he had with him because I was shivering.

Catherine and me

Unfortunately the guys all had rowing practice at 6 am the next morning meaning the night ended with all but one of the guys taking their leave without going clubbing. With one guy left with seven girls, it was Snow White and the Seven DwarvesΒ in reverse. He did then proposition us for a six some and didn’t seem to understand why we weren’t into that, but even so he was really nice and funny about it and we all left eager to crew date them again.

I think the difference is because the guys are MCR, they are older and more mature with less of the lad attitude. A couple of the girls requested that we only crew date MCR from now on, but I’m not really sure how I would ensure that. I caught a cab home because it was absolutely freezing and my heel was really badly injured and with the competition this weekend I didn’t want to take any chances.

Saturday was our first competition of the term in Sheffield. It was one of those days that just goes from bad to worse. It started with us leaving Oxford late and ending up at the competition fifteen minutes before it started, so the floor was packed and we had to change, giving us absolutely no time to get warmed up. We ended up competing Ballroom cold. And it showed. The floor was also a small octagon and the runners of the comp decided that it was perfectly okay to have 17 beginners dancing on the floor in one heat. It wasn’t. I’m not even going to mention any of the results because in all honesty, we figured out at the end of the day that the judges were completely biased because even among the main team, no one placed higher than 4th except one couple in Open Salsa. Which makes absolutely no sense because we have some incredible dancers on our main team that I feel were completely robbed and once the other results were announced it became pretty obvious that the judges were playing favorites. So no results, just going to talk about how we danced.

Beginners Girls

Considering how much Quickstep freaked me out in our first competition, I think we danced it amazingly this time. We remembered our choreography and were on time and smooth, and it made it a real pleasure to dance. Waltz was more of a struggle. Our routine is really difficult and we had a hard time with the octagonal floor and other couples running into us, so we struggled through it and didn’t do that well. But we both acknowledged that we didn’t really deserve a final in waltz so we were okay with it. We also immediately booked a private lesson with Bruce.


Latin was where I really felt we were cheated out of what we deserved. We have been working on technique nonstop with our Latin coach and felt like our Cha had improved light years beyond what it was at Warwick. We even toned down our performance enough for Neil to acknowledge that we weren’t mad as hatters! And as usual our Jive was just a complete blast to dance. I really love Jive, as does Dan, so when we end up dancing it we have a lot of fun and don’t care so much about the results. Again though Jive ended up being our best dance of the competition from the judging standpoint, but as it was biased I don’t really trust any of the results where Oxford couples ended up. We also competed Rock n Roll without any practice or idea of what England considers Rock n Roll so Dan and I just went out there and basically goofed off the whole time.

When in doubt, dip! Rock n Roll

And placed 5th! Okay it was out of 7 but we got a medal anyway so who cares.

After the individual competitions it was time for the team match and Dan and I were (shockingly, okay that’s sarcasm) placed in the top Beginners team Jive. Meaning I got to wear another main team dress. I really think that each time I am put in one of those dresses they become skimpier and skimpier, but I am really trying to work on my self confidence. The amount of skin showing wasn’t really helpful with that, but everyone tried to make me feel more comfortable in it, proving why my team is an amazing group of people πŸ™‚

That's a lot of skin!

We actually did pretty well too; we were the only Beginner team in the entire competition to make the first division! We beat a lot of the other schools’ main teams! but by this point, snow was falling and we needed to rush out of Sheffield so that we wouldn’t get stuck there overnight.

Neil (Latin coach), Polina, me, Dan

Yes, I had my first snowfall of England, and everyone had a ton of fun inaugurating me by throwing snowballs at me! I must have “throw snow at me” written on me or a big white target on my back because everyone always finds it entertaining to pelt me with powder. An obvious solution right? Luckily the snow was pretty dry (is that accurate? calling snow dry?) so I wasn’t soaked through to the bone like I was that one time at AOC.

Unfortunately as pretty as the undisturbed snow was, it caused a lot of problems on the road. It took us nearly 6 hours to get home from Sheffield and I didn’t sleep for any of it, and then had to walk home in the snow in my converse which are not snow appropriate shoes. After a snack and shower, I was passed out at 4 am, ended up oversleeping my alarm Sunday morning also known as


Oxford in the snow Sunday morning

Now I really couldn’t care less about football unless it was basketball, but the Keble MCR was hosting a Super Bowl Party partially because I pressured Dan into cooking for it (aren’t I a great partner?) so I happily volunteered to help with all the cooking and baking. And it was a lot of cooking and baking. Mac n Cheese, hot wings, bruschetta, chili dip, guacamole, muddy puppy chow buddies, iced sugar cookies, and my peanut butter chocolate cupcakes with little footballs piped on. Then the requisite chips, salsa, pretzels, and sodas. Five and a half hours!!!!! Not including the shopping and prep work. Every once in a while someone would pop in to help but the majority was done between the two of us and while it was exhausting, it was also a blast.

The spread! Note my cupcakes have footballs on them

We enlisted people’s help in bringing the food from the Acland kitchens to the Keble MCR and within ten minutes plates were filled, the guacamole and dip were gone, and everyone was smiling and laughing. Β People were raving about my cupcakes, making me smile in pure housewife pride.

Keble MCR of which I am now an honorary member

And Dan was the consummate host, introducing me to everyone, flitting around socializing with everyone once I had fallen asleep on the MCR couch, and attempting to convert everyone to Patriots’ fans and failing. I stayed neutral. I have some of my favorite family members in both New York and New England, my dance partner is from New England, and there was this guy there celebrating his birthday and rooting for the Giants, so I was at a loss. Hence, Switzerland it was.

Dan and random Kebelite

I left after the halftime show once I realized that I was really not going to make it home if I didn’t leave then and would end up spending the night on an uncomfortable couch in a different college’s MCR and that would end up as sconsable material at tonight’s ballroom team social, so I caught a cab back home. In this weather, taxi drivers are becoming my new best friends.

Overall, frustrating but wonderful weekend with my amazing friends and dance partner ❀