Jan. 27th, 2013

misspotter: miss potter at school (Default)
What did I do with my Thursday...well, I went into hospital as usual, but I didn't do my usual things. Because...it was the day of the final year med students' final exams, and I had volunteered to help out from 8am-5:30pm. There were a few reasons why I'd signed up:
  1. The promise of a free lunch and free snacks.
  2. To meet other med students (and it turned out also, junior doctors who were currently doing research).
  3. To support the 6th years, because our job was to provide them with a stress-free run through their stations.
  4. To earn brownie points with consultants from my department, who were being examiners.
  5. To see the students (and examiners!) dressed up in "sub-fusc". This usually consists of black pants/white shirt/white bowtie for boys and black stockings/black skirt/white blouse/black ribbon for girls, all worn under academic robes. However due to the infection risk, during the practical exams, robes aren't worn and the white shirt sleeves are all rolled up to the forearms. Still, it was quite a novelty! I wonder what would happen if we turned up to our exams in sub-fusc for lulz. I mean, I had a conversation with a 4th year med student who explained she quite appreciated the exam uniform, since it helped her get her head into the zone.

I was also hoping to get to observe some of the actual exam stations, and see what kinds of questions were asked in Oxford finals, but since I was assigned to be a chaperone, I only managed to see/hear some of the questions and marking schemes. Nevertheless, I could tell that the standard of the candidature was extremely high and once again I felt slightly underqualified to be in Oxford!

There was an amazing walnut cake for afternoon tea, but I missed out on the apparently even more amazing "lemon drizzle" cake. Coincidentally though, I found a recipe for it in one of the free newspapers we were given to read during the breaks, so I will  be attempting it when I get back to my kitchen and my utensils and my ingredient supply. I had been planning to go out on Thursday night to a bop, but I was too tired to go (and besides, I wasn't terribly keen to get hit on) and ended up curling up with a bowl of noodles and a new book recommended by the boyfriend.

Friday was one of my insane days! I followed my favourite resident and registrar all day until Journal Club, where we were shouted lunch by the people marketing "Edarbi" (azilsartan medoxomil). I then went back to the ward for a bit, although it was quite sad as we had to tell the husband of a lady with carcinoid that she was reaching the final stages of her illness. I stalked one of the consultants back to his office and gave him my elective forms, so that he would have a few days to fill them out. It's actually been quite difficult as I have been floating around the three cardiology teams: electrophysiology, intervention, and imaging/structural/failure for the last month without a lot of emphasis on a particular one (well, except maybe EP, I don't understand it well enough...) So hopefully Dr D has seen me enough to say that I've been present and involved in my elective. I guess if I haven't, then perhaps I could stay another 4 weeks here...but I'm not sure if my visa, wallet or family would like that.

So I came home at about 3pm and attempted to do a load of laundry. Unfortunately, the machine swallowed a few of my coins and appeared jammed, so I trekked up to the accommodation office to ask what could be done. Apparently I may get refunded my 1 pound 20 pence...if the machine gets serviced in between now and Thursday. The chances are slim, but hey, I tried. And I put a sign on the machine with Don't use this machine! It will eat your coins! so hopefully nobody else will suffer the same fate. I got my laundry done eventually in another machine (though it looks like I'll have to do yet another round of washing tomorrow...aargh!)

I then had a shower and got ready for the two parties I had to attend this night. Firstly, there was a black tie dinner to celebrate Robert Burns' birthday. Burns is a Scottish poet, the author of Auld Lang Syne and a couple of other famous bits and pieces, so Scotland like to celebrate him with "Burns Night". It admittedly felt a bit weird to be celebrating a Scottish poet on Australia Day (well, it was the 26th in Australia by 1pm 25th Jan GMT) but it was SO much fun. We began with drinks upstairs, before we were serenaded with a guitar/violin duo as we descended the stairs to the dining room in our tower. And then the bagpipes suddenly began! We filed into the hall as Scotland the Brave played. None of the other elective students managed to snag tickets, so I ended up surrounded by strangers, but everyone was amazingly nice and put me at ease immediately. The first course was soup, after which the bagpipes came out again, as the Haggis was brought in (="Piping-In of the Haggis"). As I'd specified "no red meat" I was classified with the vegetarians, so my haggis/neeps/tatties was once again a safe, spicy veggo version. In between our mains and dessert we were once again serenaded by our guitarist, who sang a few of Burns' songs. One of the fellows of the college also stood on a stool (not a table, or a chair, because that was not OHS-friendly) to recite the tale of Tam O'Shanter (yeah, same name as the ridiculous hats my school made us wear in winter). Even though it was in Scottish, he acted it out so well that I understood most of it (plus he gave us a synopsis, so that helped!). After this awesome entertainment, we had Cranachan. Holy crap it was strong!

After this there was coffee/chocolate and Scottish dancing. Unfortunately I couldn't hang around for long as I had to be at a "sexy sub-fusc bop"! I love doing the sexy schoolgirl thing so this was really fun! Plus, 2-pound vodka/cranberries? Who wouldn't be enthralled?! I came home at around 2am though, aiming to be fresh and bright for Quidditch the next day.

This didn't quite work though, because I left my Skype running on my phone and got woken up a few times during the night. I also found out that my body clock does not like me sleeping in. Hurrah for my regular 7am wakeup, even on a freaking Saturday! I went back to bed, of course, but barely slept and ended up wide awake before 9am. So I stumbled out of bed, made some ramen, decided to give Justin a call, tried to eat gracefully in front of him, and perved on his amazing house.

I made it to Quidditch, got my weekly dose of crazy cardio, and got horrendously muddy (to the point that I am considering not bringing my boots back, because no matter how much I rinsed and scrubbed, the mud would not budge), then excused myself a bit early so I could tidy up before BD's afternoon tea (she's a med student coming to do her elective in Sydney!) Unfortunately I left my scarf behind, so I may need to put all my knitting projects on hold while I make myself a new piece of Ravenclaw paraphenalia. Furthermore, the public toilets had no sink, only an "auto soap/wash/dry" machine. So I was basically sticking my head into the machine, wiping my face with the inside of my hoodie, and...yeah, it wasn't a pretty sight and no matter what I did, I couldn't get most of the gunk out of my hair.

BD's place, which is a little bit north of Oxford, is a beautiful old house with multiple cuckoo clocks and numerous photos of family all over the walls. We were treated to some amazing food, including a very authentic pavlova, and some malteaser concoction that looked like brownies but was actually solid chocolate. BD's mum was so sweet and thanked me already for helping out BD with her Sydney visit. Her sisters were also really great, helping to cook and clean up! And BD's friends were awesome. Even though I do funny things like call "yohg-urt" "yoe-gurt", they still put up with me :)

Eventually it was time to go, and I decided to head straight back to my flat. I was fairly glad, as shortly after I arrived back, it started pissing down...

misspotter: miss potter at school (Default)
I woke up to discover that someone had indeed picked up and kept safely my Ravenclaw scarf (the one I accidentally left on the Quidditch pitch in my rush to get to afternoon tea on time). So I packed up my gear for the day, and headed out to Worcester College to collect it. I am relieved to write that I did not cry, however I babbled a bit about sending the Quidditch team some Tim Tams to show my appreciation for them (they not only let me train with them, they also invited me to their socials! And then they rescued my scarf!). 
 
I used the trek up to Worcester to wander around the area near the train station. I walked around the Oxford Castle (which I have to admit, after seeing Windsor and stuff, was a bit of a letdown), across a few bridges, along the river, and down the streets that would lead me to Rewley Abbey, which is another part of Green Templeton. 
 
Rewley was the venue for the college Sunday brunch. Where "bring a plate" actually means "bring an empty plate" (unless you feel like being a chef for the day). We feasted on pasta, noodles, curry, cheesecake, crepes, Indian sweets, bagels, and more...I really regret not going to these earlier (although I've generally been doing other things with my Sundays, like waking up in Scotland) because it was actually a lot more laid-back than I was expecting. Heaps of people were meeting each other for the first time, so it didn't matter that I only knew one or two people there. Plus, I got a free meal that kept me going literally all day! 
 
Since the weather was good, I went college-hopping again, working my way south down Parks Rd. I've now seen Keble, Mansfield, Wadham, Balliol, Trinity (which I'd only seen at night before) and Oriel. Because the weather was generally quite good, I also took my robes out for a spin and took pictures with them at New and Christ Church. At New, I encountered a tour group that wanted to take photos of me! One of the dudes even said I looked just like Katie Leung...anyhow, I thought I'd make their day and ask if anyone wanted to borrow my robes for a picture, and about five of them said a resounding YES! In return they helped take photos of me :D

En route, I also squeezed in quick visits to the Natural History and Pitt Rivers Museums. This was partly to escape the rain, which sort of came and went all afternoon. 
 
At 4:30pm everything closed, so I went window-shopping for a bit and picked up some pieces of jewellery from a cute shop called "Aspire". There were some nice dresses but they were all too big (for some reason the smallest they stock is a size 8 D:). On my way to catch my bus home, I spotted a sign advertising Evensong at Queen's College.
 
I've been wanting to visit Queen's, but you can only visit it if you're brought in by an accredited tour guide (well, I had a conversation with a former Christ Church student, and I understand that opening a college to tourists is actually like opening Pandora's Box, so I can understand why some colleges aren't easily accessible). I've also wanted to go to an Evensong, after hearing SXY tell me about her choral adventures, except I've always felt a bit too intimidated (and plus, I'm not remotely Christian, and the last time I was in a chapel apart from my friends' weddings was back in high school). Thirdly, I got stood up for dinner plans (was planning to go to Atomic Burger, which apparently looks like a comic book, with the other elective students but they were too tired) so my alternative plans were to go home and eat a frozen pizza while waiting for Mr Ravenclaw to wake up and get on Skype. 
 
I had another hour to kill though, so I went to Starbucks and had a big Vanilla Spice Latte, caught up on tweets/instagram and read up about the Queens College Choir. They *are* the really famous group that I've heard of that make CDs and stuff! So naturally I had very high expectations...
 
...all of which were exceeded!
 
I showed up at Queen's at 6pm, about 15 minutes before the service was meant to start. This meant we heard the tail end of the choir rehearsal, which already sounded amazing. I also had some time to take some (terrible quality) photos of the college and chapel, skim-read the hymns to be sung (one of which I kinda recognised from school!) and watch the candles be lit by a very tall/dashing Englishman. 
 
The acoustics of the chapel were stunning. The harmonies were magical. The choir was the best I'd ever heard. The organ was amazing. The minister was hip enough to discuss Big Bang Theory and spill the beans on a tutor of the college who had a "Bullshit" roll-on stamp for his students' essays. And the theme of "Love" was just such a nice, universal topic and something that had been on my mind lately, so it provided a bit of time for introspection. 

I left Queens just as another one of my buses pulled up, which meant I was back at my flat in no time. Dinner was my frozen pizza (yay for 700 calories!), but instead of dessert, I had something (or should I say someone?) even sweeter. (I'm a little late, but Happy 5 months if you're reading this!) 

And now for some ginger tea and a nice early night. Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh it's gonna break my heart to have to leave this place!

February 2013

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