Oxford Trinity 2016 – Recap

One day, I peered outside my door and saw the janitor, Kamel, changing in the room across the hall. “That’s a little suspicious”, I thought. The term had started a few days ago and a French exchange student lived in that room, so why was the janitor standing there in his underwear?

Kamel: “Sorry – the French dude isn’t here yet, so I’m just using this room.”
Me: “Hasn’t the term started already? Where is he?”
Kamel: “Yeah it has started, but he’s a visiting student… I’m not sure if he’s got too much to do here.”

Even Kamel, our janitor, knows what the study abroad experience at Oxford is like. Studying abroad at Oxford is going to a foreign land full of fresh opportunities. Studying abroad at Oxford is leaving behind most of your commitments and having the flexiblity to choose what you want to do and how you want to live from scratch. Studying abroad at Oxford is immersing yourself in British culture, making British friends, and seeing the world from their perspective. Studying abroad at Oxford is eating some of the best and most expensive Chinese food in Europe. And if my knowledge of French stereotypes is correct, studying abroad at Oxford is being too lazy to even show up.

Here’s how my second term at Oxford, Trinity term, went.

Continue reading

Stockholm – Bridge

Stockholm’s most iconic area is Gamla Stan, or the Old Town. Neat merchandise stores, tiny cafes, and ornamented government buildings line the streets of Gamla Stan, and it’s certainly much prettier than the rest of Stockholm. The Old Town rests on an island and is connected to the rest of Stockholm via a set of bridges.

The rest of Stockholm consists of large malls, residential buildings, and company offices. It is the real Stockholm, where real residents do real things, and it reminds me a bit of New York City. As I walked over the bridge from Gamla Stan, I couldn’t help but feel that I was crossing another bridge too. Stockholm was the last European destination of my time abroad, and it was a bridge between my 6-month European adventure and my real life.

Gamla Stan

Continue reading

Geiranger, Alesund, and Oslo – Team Norway World Police

A group of rejects from Team America World Police take on Kim Jong-Il and his terrorist forces in the beautiful country of Norway. This film features biting satire, intense drama, and 10 thrilling action sequences with large explosions in each one except the third. Watch for witty banter about fjords, romance with a backdrop of panoramic oceanside views, and mind-blowing plot twists near both classical and modern architecture.

Oh, who am I kidding? Team Norway World Police is really just a nature documentary. But this nature documentary does have a slight twist – as awe-inspiring as the nature is, the most interesting part of the film is the people in it.

Team Norway World Police. Left to right: Aidi, Johnny, Andre, Victor, Eric, Catherine, Me

Continue reading

Copenhagen and Bergen – A New Light

During the semester I had gotten used to a certain style of travel. A normal day of traveling involved hostels, scenic points, lots of Asian food and Burger King, and hourly conversations about the GOATs of basketball1. That all changed on this trip. For my final trip of this term abroad, I left for Copenhagen with Catherine, who was visiting Oxford. For the first time since arriving at Oxford, I traveled without Victor.

Why Copenhagen? I had already been there before. The reason is that Catherine was running a marathon in the city, and we were going to be traveling together in Norway later anyways, so I accompanied her on the first leg of her journey. I thought I had already seen most of Denmark’s small capital city on my previous visit, but what I didn’t realize was that a new travel buddy meant new adventures. Copenhagen was still Copenhagen, but it had plenty more to offer when seen in a new light.

Catherine’s post-marathon profile picture

Continue reading

Barcelona and Madrid – Colorful

Growing up, Roger Federer was always my favorite tennis player and celebrity. His rival Rafael Nadal consistently beat Roger in head-to-head matches, and, understandably, Rafa became the target of a lot of my anger. Rafa is from Spain.

Other than him though, there’s not much that I dislike about Spain. For the final leg of our trip, we visited Barcelona and Madrid, and these cities were colorful in every sense of the word. From the great food to the breathtaking architecture to the relaxed atmosphere1 to the literal colorfulness of the cities, Barcelona and Madrid had a lot of everything.

Continue reading

Munich – What if

Berlin was my least favorite city that I traveled to. As a result, I wasn’t expecting much from its German counterpart of Munich.

Of course, I ended up being very happy with Munich. Out of all of the cities I traveled to, language barrier notwithstanding, Munich is the one I’d be most comfortable living in.

One of Munich’s famous outdoor biergartens

Continue reading

Geneva and Zurich – International

Switzerland is known for being an international country. Home to organizations like the UN, the WHO, and the Red Cross, Switzerland is a place where people from different countries gather together in peace to promote the greater good of the entire world. This internationalism comes with the price of, well, everything, as everything in Switzerland is insanely expensive.

Many say that America is a mixing pot for different cultures, and while that was certainly true hundreds of years ago, it feels less true for the millions of people who are born or grow up in America with limited connection to their cultural heritage. Even though their ancestors come from different parts of the world, many young people are culturally American. Taking that into account, Switzerland is even more international than America because many people only move into the country after growing up somewhere else.

For 5 days we immersed ourselves in this scenic international country.

Life at the Lake (Geneva)

Continue reading

The French Riviera (Nice and Monaco) – The High Life

Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to live the high life. Having all the money I could ever want, hanging out by my beachside private pool all day, sipping champagne, rubbing elbows with celebrities. That would be the life, wouldn’t it?

It would be so odd and so different, but it could be really fun. Victor and I weren’t about to pay up to simulate THAT level of richness, but we did try out a more lavish lifestyle during our visit to the French Riviera.

Oh let’s get rich and buy our parents homes in the South of France

Continue reading