Saturday, January 27, 2007

One More Day...

The week is basically over, and I'm finding myself in an interesting reflective mood. This week has been marked with a few certain realizations for me. One of which is that I did better at using my time this week, though not as well as I would have liked. During the first few days, I did a lot of research and some goofing off. That left the last couple days for me to do the writing. It worked out ok in the end, but I hope to not repeat this cycle. Over Thursday and Friday, I read a large portion of 5 books and wrote 3600 words, finishing at 4am on friday, and crashing for 5 hours before a really good tutorial at 10.

The other realization that I've come to will make a little more sense of the title I've chosen for this post. I realized somewhere between the chaos of Social Anthropology and Existentialism, that I've come to ask for a few second chances this week. Some of those second chances, like another day to read and work on those papers, were impossible to have. And yet others have been given with such undue grace that I was ashamed at how little I deserved them. I was walking to the library the other day, and I suddenly felt a song emerge in my heart, with a few specific words sticking out in my head. The songwriter explores many themes, but at one point humbly admits, "I wish for one more day to give my love and repay debts..."

That's how I felt a few times this week. The only comfort for me is, ironically, the idea that tomorrow is a new day, and that God offers his grace afresh if I am willing to wake up and reach for it. As poetically smooth as that idea sounds, I don't want to rely on "One More Day" because one day, there won't be. I guess the lesson here is cliche for many, but with a newfound meaning for me. Seize the day.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Learning to Walk Again

I made it through my first week of official classes. I have spent at least 12 hours of that week in this building. It's called the Radcliffe Camera. It's part of the library system, and I have all of my books sent to the lower reading room (there are only two stories). That room is quite large, with vaulted ceilings, and has some really cool lighting. I usually bring my computer or iPod and listen to chill or or motivating music while I peruse the books for sweet morsels of information that I can use in the papers I am writing.

I wish I could say that I made it through this week without many bumps along the way, but that's not the case. I am learning how to manage my time, and had to humbly ask one of my professors to reschedule our tutorial because I felt that it was too much to try to finish two 2,000 word essays and read 4 books in the space of about 5 days. I probably could have done it, but I didn't manage my time wisely.

I also had an interesting little scuffle with a professor over a request to audit a class. As APU students, we're required to take a 3 unit British Culture course. Early on in the week I heard about a few of my friends dropping the course, reducing their workload to 12 units. I immediately wanted to do this. I didn't think about the fact however that my casual request to drop the class, essentially attending all of the lectures but doing no work, was only founded on selfish reasoning. I eventually decided not to drop the class, and stay with my original commitment to the program. However it was difficult to sleep last night, knowing that I had created a rift in the relationship of one of my professors.

In this shakey first week I realized how distant I had grown from God. I have slept through my precious morning reflection time almost every day this week. Looking back, not putting God at the beginning and the end of my day was the biggest mistake I could made for the first week. Even now, my heart beats faster and my eyes want to tear up at the thought of forsaking He who is most precious to me during a time that I need Him most. Again, I am reminded of the importance of placing priority on the time that I spend.

As I continue to walk these streets and make trips out to the open spaces, I feel closer to the Jesus who walked everywhere, the Father who created it all and loves me in spite of my shortcomings, and the Spirit who speaks through the wind, trees, and the hearts of people around me.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

First Day of School

On Friday, I had two lectures and met with both of my tutors. The way education works in Oxford is much different that Azusa, or most other American universities. Most students meet with their professors in a 1 to 1, weekly meeting focusing on a specific subject. Depending on the major, students have between two and five of these a semester. My education here includes two of these, a weekly seminar (similar to a small discussion class) on the writings of C.S. Lewis, a weekly discussion on faith with all 19 of the APU kids, and a series of required lectures and exams on British culture and society. Overall it makes for a pretty round semester. Though the difficult part is that I'm only in "class" for about 5 hours a week (max.) and the other time I must be diligently reading and writing essays of 2,000-3,000 words for each of my tutorials.

Friday felt like the first day of school for me in a lot of ways. I don't really know if I've had that sense since freshman year of college. It was new and exciting, and I was very nervous to meet my tutors. I came back from my meetings with a flutter of anxiety, a touch of worry that this term will be a lot of work, but mostly a feeling of resolute excitement, looking forward to the amazing learning experience in front of me with determination.

I'm starting to get finally get comfortable with the layout of Oxford. With it's small institutions (libraries, colleges, bookstores, parks) spread out over the entire city, it has beeen a challange to figure out where everything is. Yet I think, after two weeks of wandering around and often asking for directions, I am getting my bearings.

I am even making time to go out into the open spaces. I took this picture a few days after I got here, but I think it will soon be one of favorite spots to watch the trees dance and listen to the wind speak. Though this has been one of the few sunny days we've been blessed here in Oxford, I've taken some interesting shots of my surroundings and hope to post them soon. Until then, I hope everyone who reads this has a better idea of what I'm up to.