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Oxford Packing Guide March 20, 2014

Posted by lauramargaretb in Travel Log.
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Hello, Techies!

 

We’re coming up on the one-year anniversary of my travels with the Oxford Study Abroad Program, so I thought I’d post a packing list to help this year’s Oxford group. This is largely based on the program’s official list, with my own recommendations added. (Sorry, guys – my comments are definitely more helpful for the girls.)

Main Suitcase

You’ll check this bag on the plane and put it in the undercarriage of the bus during the travel portion. Maximum weight is 50 lbs. for the plane and maximum size is 5200 cubic inches for the bus (assuming that hasn’t changed since last year.) I used a 28” hard-side suitcase that you could pack on both sides. Definitely recommend getting a suitcase with 4 wheels and a lock.

  • 3 pairs of casual pants

  • 1 pairs of nice pants

  • 3-4 pairs of shorts

  • 1-2 skirts

  • 6-8 tops (have a variety: tank tops, sweaters, etc. – scarves to mix and match)

  • 2-3 dresses (1 should be formal for nice dinners, others just casual)

  • 1 cardigan to cover your shoulders in churches

  • 1 sweatshirt/fleece

  • 6-8 t-shirts, long and short sleeve

  • 3-4 running shorts/leggings (pajama pants)

  • 5 pairs of socks

  • 5 pairs of shoes (shower shoes, outdoor sandals, nice sandals/flats, rain shoes, tennis shoes – wear one pair on the plane; don’t bring heels)

  • 2 weeks’ worth of undergarments (I would wash half of these as soon as we arrived in each city so they’d be dry when it was time to pack.)

  • 2 belts (even if you don’t normally wear them – your pants will stretch from hand-washing)

  • 1 rain jacket

  • Toiletries bag

    • Shampoo/conditioner

    • Soap

    • Sunscreen

    • Razor

    • Make-up

    • Toothpaste

    • Hairbrush (don’t bring straighteners, hair dryers, etc. – the voltage won’t work)
  • Umbrella

  • Extra batteries

  • Sewing Kit

  • First-aid kit / personal medicine (keep one of everything in a smaller bag with you)

  • Washcloth

  • 1 plastic grocery bag (in case you’re clothes aren’t dry on travel day)
  • Money belt

  • Small combination/key lock (for hostels)

  • Small flashlight

  • 1 Travel Spacebag (Do not open until you get to Oxford. It will be awesome to have perfectly clean clothes when you get there and are exhausted.)

    • 1 of the pairs of jeans

    • 1 of the shirts

    • 1 of the t-shirts

    • 1 of the pairs of running shorts

    • 1 of the pairs of socks

    • 2 of the pairs of underwear

  • **Keep some money, your student visa letter, and a copy of your passport here.

Small-Medium Duffle Bag

This is a great resource for stashing snack food, souvenirs, laundry, etc. in the overhead compartment of the bus. For the one-night stopover that breaks up your longest bus trip and your visit to Venice, pack this small bag and leaved your main suitcase locked in the undercarriage. This bag is also great for weekend trips during the in-residence portion. Pack this in you main suitcase during flights, or, if you have a lot of souvenirs, you can pay extra to check it as well.

Book Bag

This is a great ride-along bag for the plane and the bus, plus when you get to the in-residence portion, you can just use it as a book bag. It also works great as your stand along bag for long weekend trips.

  • Travel toothpaste

  • Toothbrush

  • Deodorant

  • Small wrist-watch with batteries

  • Textbooks (try to get e-books)

  • Converter

  • Chargers

  • Laptop (don’t bring a tablet instead of your laptop – you’ll have trouble getting Wi-Fi at Oxford)

  • Large plastic envelope for post cards, brochures, etc.

  • Notebook for class (I got the smaller size – 9.5×6 - that fit in my purse.)

  • Travel pillow (carry this with you – don’t get an inflatable one, more hassle than convenience)

  • Water bottle with D-ring

Cross-Body Purse

I used a large purse that had a regular handle and a cross body strap. It was big enough to include a pair of shoes and a light sweater. For quick trips where not much stuff is needed, just use your money belt (careful with the money belt if you’re wearing a dress.)

  • Camera (if you plan on using it – I just used my phone)

  • Sunglasses

  • Wallet (one with a keychain that you can latch onto a zipper)

  • Gum

  • Phone (use with Wi-Fi or in emergencies)

  • Smaller first aid kit with one of everything
  • Small hand sanitizer
  • Plastic envelope

    • Passport

    • Extra money

    • Secondary credit card

    • Emergency contact information

    • Any important medical information, translated into several languages

Concluding Thoughts August 23, 2013

Posted by lauramargaretb in Travel Log.
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After a high table dinner service with the professors in robes and a champagne reception in the Provost’s Gardens, our time in Oxford was really ending.

I cannot begin to describe the amazing experience I’ve had this summer. Between traveling around mainland Europe and settling in historic Oxford, suffice it to say that this semester featured a truly international experience. Expanding my knowledge of history, culture and nature has been incredible — and that doesn’t even account for all that I’ve learned in my classes!

A recap post wouldn’t be complete without a list of thank yous:

  • to all of the faculty and staff that made this trip feasible, educational, and eye-opening;
  • to all the students (especially Travel Group 2) who continue to be my dear friends after this trip;
  • to the benefactors and staff of the PS Fleet Scholarship, HP Challenge Fund, and the HOPE scholarship for financing the bulk of this trip;
  • and, of course, to my mom and dad for financing the rest, for letting me go for an entire summer, and for believing in me and the value of an international educational experience.

All Around Oxford August 23, 2013

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Our last week of the program meant we had to hit up all the tourist spots in Oxford!

 On Monday, we had lunch of sausage and mashed potatoes at Eagle and Child, the pub where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis famously met to discuss their work. 

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 We explored the beautiful gardens around Worcester College!

 Blackwell’s Bookshop, and absolutely huge bookstore overlooking Oxford’s Trinity College.

 We went on a free walking tour of the city to gain a sense of history form our surroundings!

 And High Tea at the Randolph Hotel!

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 What an excellent week to finish off our time in Oxford!

“She was a Day Tripper!” August 22, 2013

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Our last, week in Oxford was spent in England, taking day trips to see the sites around us!

For Friday, we took a train, and then a bus to Stonehenge and Old Sarum.  We had bought picnic food before leaving Oxford, and spread out on the ground in front of Stonehenge to eat.  It seemed so casual, sitting on the lawn, eating our 3-GBP sandwiches from the Tesco Market, and yet, here we were sitting in front of one of the oldest, most mysterious monuments still standing.  Seeing Old Sarum too, was an amazing throwback to the first settlement in Salisbury, as old as 3000 BCE.

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For Saturday, I took a day trip to London to explore the John Wesley Museum, the British Museum, and Picadilly Circus.  I even a spur of the moment decision to see Jersey Boys at the Prince Edward Theater. On Wednesday, I made another quick day trip to London to see Les Misérables at the Queen’s Theater.  This was especially neat having just been in Paris two weeks ago!

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One last trip to London (before to the airport home, that is), I specifically wanted to see the exhibit at the British Museum called Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, as this was the topic of my 9th grade Latin course.  I got a time ticket for late afternoon, and toured the exhibit on Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation at Buckingham Palace in the meantime.

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Lots of hectic travel, but some great day trips coming out of this week!

Back to Paris! August 21, 2013

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I enjoyed France so much on the travel portion that I decided to go back for one of the long weekends at Oxford. I flew into Charles de Gaulle, where I met up with some family friends that used to live in Atlanta and were now living outside of Paris.  After picking up fresh croissants from the boulangerie, we had breakfast in the backyard, enjoying the beautiful weather and clear skies.  We all spent the day at Eurodisney, enjoying Mickey Mouse in a new setting!  (It’s on my lifelong to-do list to visit every Disney Park in the world!  Paris – check!)

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We grilled out for dinner, complete with fresh French bread and vegetables, and then reentered the park for the wonderful fireworks show “Dreams.”  The next day, we had breakfast in the back yard again, and the family drove me to the train station where I headed into the city.  Once I arrived in Paris, I met up with a group of my friends who were studying at Georgia Tech Lorraine for the summer.  We all got lunch together and then headed to the center of town to see the sights!

We first visited Notre Dame, which was under construction, but nonetheless beautiful!  We walked along the River Seine to the Lock Bridge and to the Eiffel Tower.  We picked up a pizza for supper and took it to picnic at the base of the Eiffel Tower.  We spent the rest of the evening there catching up on each others’ European adventures and watching the Tower sparkle with each hour.  We then headed back to the hostel for the night.

Sunday was July 14, Bastille Day! What an incredible time to be in Paris, with everything lit in “Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge.” We headed to Sacre Coeur, a church atop a hill with a little shopping area around it.   We climbed to the top and saw an amazing view of Paris, toured the Basilica and did a little shopping before lunch.  Then we headed down to the city via cable car.  We all headed back to the hostel where I packed to leave for the airport after an amazing trip with friends! Image

All Around Ireland! August 15, 2013

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For our weekend in Ireland, we cleared straight across each coast!  We flew out of London Stansted into the airport in Shannon.  From there, we caught a bus to Limerick, where we stayed for the weekend.  We spent all day Friday exploring Limerick: the parks, churches, and riverfront.

On Saturday, we took the bus to Dublin for the day!  We had a traditional Irish lunch at a diner downtown; I had roast beef, vegetables, and – of course – mashed potatoes!  After lunch, we toured the James Joyce Museum, viewing many items from James Joyce’s life and inspiration for many of his writings.  Then, we walked around the city, hitting the parks and the free museums before landing in the Medieval part of the city.  We saw the old wall of the city, castles, churches, and arches.  We picked up dinner at a grocery store, and took it to picnic on the lawn in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  What a wonderful view!  After our picnic, we caught the bus back to Limerick for the night!

For our final day in Ireland, we hopped on a bus (yet again!) to the Cliffs of Moher!  We walked along the cliffs, looking at the beautiful shore!  One more bus to the airport and we were headed back to Oxford!

All Around Ireland! August 15, 2013

Posted by lauramargaretb in Travel Log.
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For our weekend in Ireland, we cleared straight across each coast!  We flew out of London Stansted into the airport in Shannon.  From there, we caught a bus to Limerick, where we stayed for the weekend.  We spent all day Friday exploring Limerick: the parks, churches, and riverfront.

On Saturday, we took the bus to Dublin for the day!  We had a traditional Irish lunch at a diner downtown; I had roast beef, vegetables, and – of course – mashed potatoes!  After lunch, we toured the James Joyce Museum, viewing many items from James Joyce’s life and inspiration for many of his writings.  Then, we walked around the city, hitting the parks and the free museums before landing in the Medieval part of the city.  We saw the old wall of the city, castles, churches, and arches.  We picked up dinner at a grocery store, and took it to picnic on the lawn in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  What a wonderful view!  After our picnic, we caught the bus back to Limerick for the night!

For our final day in Ireland, we hopped on a bus (yet again!) to the Cliffs of Moher!  We walked along the cliffs, looking at the beautiful shore!  One more bus to the airport and we were headed back to Oxford!

To London! August 13, 2013

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For our first of many three-day weekend trips during the In-Residence Portion of the Oxford Program, several of us ventured to London!  We took the train from Oxford, and then got all-day metro passes for the weekend.  We shopped around and had lunch at the market near the Shakespeare’s Globe Theater and toured some of the museums nearby.

We then headed to the Tower of London and toured the many sites there, including the tower greens, the ravens, and a clever exhibit on animals that used to be kept in the tower!  Afterwards, we grabbed a bite to eat, and several of us headed to Her Majesty’s Theater to see Phantom of the Opera

On Saturday, we rode the London Eye to see an amazing view of the city!  We then spent some time shopping and sightseeing around Piccadilly Circus.  We finished the evening with a “London by Night” bus tour of all the biggest sites of the city!

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On Sunday morning, we went to a service at Westminster Abbey.  Not only was the church beautiful, but the all male choir was amazing.  After the service, we headed to Harrods’s for dessert and tea.  As we headed to the train station to journey back to Oxford, we stopped by King’s Cross Station to take our picture with Platform 9-¾ from the Harry Potter films!  We then boarded our train – from a “whole number” platform – to get back to Oxford.

Welcome to Oxford! August 12, 2013

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After five weeks of travelling mainland Europe, we finally arrived in Oxford!  We settled into our dorms – mine was in the Pump Quad, part of the 12th century structure that existed even before the Oxford University Institution was established.  We had our last welcome dinner and said farewell to our amazing group leaders, wonderful professors, and exceptional coach driver.

“Pound Town” was the hotspot for finding the must-haves for our dorm rooms, and the newfound Tesco was a must for stocking our fridges. 

Worcester College, which hosts the Georgia Tech Oxford Program, is home to some of the most beautiful gardens and sports fields in all of Oxford.  Emma Watson also studied at Worcester.  It seems to be quite a beautiful place to explore and study.

As we got ready for the second leg of our journey, I began to study for a new set of classes: a biomedical engineering special topics class called Habits of the Engineering Mind and a philosophy class that will count to my Environmental & Energy Policy cluster, Environmental Ethics.  

To Oxford June 23, 2012

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Having reached the conclusion of the travel portion of our whirlwind European tour, we now settle down to life with traditionally styled classes at Worcester (pronounced “WOO-ster” and rhymes with “rooster”).

Classes run from Monday to Thursday and everyone has registered for whatever classes are appropriate for their major requirements. My schedule is two history classes with the same professor, back to back: “The History of Labor and the Industrial Revolution” and “Modern European Intellectual History.”

The rest of the blog posts here will highlight experiences from my travels on the weekends.

From the UK (where, regardless of what they say, they DO drive on the wrong side of the road), Cheers!

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