SGA Boathouse Cookout

SGA's Boathouse Cookout

After a hard day of training yesterday, SGA got together for a Boathouse cookout. For those of you new to Sweet Briar and it’s many acronyms, SGA stands for the Student Government Association. My position as the Academic Affairs Committee Chairwoman makes me a voting member of the full SGA Board. ICC President Jodie Stevenson worked the grill, SGA President Lauren Alkire made an awesome salad, and Hilary Bowie led the lake float; it was a lot of fun catching up with friends.

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Student Leaders

Sweet Briar’s student leaders have just finished three jam-packed days of training and are excited to welcome the class of 2015 tomorrow! But before we do so, we paused to take a group picture in the upper quad. The groups here today include SGA, the Sweet Spirits (my two), the RA’s, the Sweet PEAS, the STARS, CEO, SWEBOP, docents, and the athletes (soccer, field hockey, and riding). As much as it was a brutal turn around for me (coming, almost straight back, to school from England) I feel lucky to be a part of such an impressive, intelligent, motivated and enthusiastic group of women. These ladies make me proud to be a Sweet Briar woman.bouncy castles for sale

SBC Student Leaders 2012 (photo courtesy of Meridith De Avila Khan)

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Back at the Briar

It is less than a week since I flew back from England and I am already back at Sweet Briar! This year I will be acting as the Academic Affairs Committee Chairwoman (a student government position), and I am also a Sweet Spirit (or intern in the chaplain’s office). Both positions required me to come back to school United States early in preparation for orientation and the arrival of the class of 2015.

I’m off to a busy start, as I have already missed two days and my room is still in shambles, but it’s great to be “home” and I can’t wait to see everyone. Welcome back to school, ladies!

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Goodbye Oxford

The six weeks have flown by. Today one essay, two tutorials, and the final party are all that stand between me and my flight home. I am already feeling a bit nostalgic about my time in Oxford, and know that I will this experience fondly. So many things done, seen, and learned! I know I made the most of my time here. As a tribute to locality-scavenger-hunt extraordinaire, Professor Cathy Gutierrez, I will publish my list of tasks accomplished. Thanks and shout-out to new friends (Kathleen, Kim, Elizabeth, and JP) and my tried-and -true ones (Carol, O’Neill, and Julie) for helping me on my quests. Also, much gratitude to my parents and grandparents for all of their support. And for any SBC students or prospies out there, study abroad is a MUST. Sweet Briar has tons of amazing programs; take advantage of them.Inflatables

  • Visit Christ’s Church College (film site of Harry Potter)
  • Visit Oneil’s Pub (paraphernalia: nabbed!)
  • Visit the Perch (hang-out of Lewis Carroll)
  • Visit Merton College (one of the oldest, tour courtesy of Julie)
  • Find the Gate! (At Trinity College! right under our noses)
  • Choose fav Bodelian reading room (Upper Radcliffe Camera)
  • See Duke Humphrey’s library (REALLY old manuscripts)
  • Don’t forget PARIS
  • Choose fav grotesque (fluffy foxish/sea creature)
  • Visit Alice’s Shop (postcard purchased)
  • Climb Carfax tower (or St. Mary’s Tower. stunning 360 views)
  • Be amazed by famous lectures (Christopher Ricks left me in awe)
  • Visit the Ashmolean Museum
  • chocolate chip cookies in covered market (yum!)
  • Visit LONDON! (Tower, crown jewels, Big Ben, Buckingham, Westminster, Globe = check!)
  • Stonehenge and Salisbury (plus old Sarum!)
  • Visit Oxford Castle (found the creepy door)
  • Try Pimms (and play croquet as a bonus!)
  • Visit the Roman Baths
  • See a Royal Shakespeare Company production in Stratford-Upon-Avon (Macbeth and The City Madam)
  • Learn lots of stuff about Early Modern England (obligatory, but still CHECK)
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Blenheim Palace

Long (fairy-tale) Library at Blenheim Palace

This Monday Carol and I journeyed to Blenheim Palace, birthplace and once home of Winston Churchill, just 20 minutes outside of Oxford. On the bus ride there, we asked two older women, sitting behind us on the bus, if they knew which stop it would be and they very helpfully told us “the one just after our stop.” As they were getting off, the slyer of the two glanced at us and said, “you know, Churchill married an American.” She was, of course, referring to Winston Churchill’s father, who married Jenny Jerome, an American socialite. Carol and I remain unsure what comment (if any) this was supposed to make about our matrimonial prospects, but the link between British and American history at Blenheim was one I’m glad she drew our attention to.  In fact, the ninth Duchess of Marlborough was another American heiress, Consuelo Vanderbilt.blow up jumpers

The palace was truly majestic as befitting a Vanderbilt (and of course, the British aristocracy) and Carol and I fell particularly in love with the library. Housing over 10,000 books, it looked like something out of a fairytale (Beauty and the Beast, in particular, comes to mind). Carol and I eventually left the long library and continued out into the gardens which were equally impressive, if less exciting than all those books. My only regret is that we will miss the International Horse Trials that will take place on the grounds in September.

Blenheim Palace

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Salisbury and Stonehenge

Salisbury Cathedral and the English countryside from the top of old Sarum

This past weekend ONeill and Carol and I traveled to Salisbury in order to see the Cathedral and Stonehenge which is just a few miles outside the city. (You can visit Carol’s blog for an alternate and much lengthier accountinflatable backyard obstacle challenge.) The Cathedral was very impressive (I especially enjoyed the cloisters) and we were also permitted to view one of the original copies of the Magna Carta Sportspark60, which dates from 1215!

Next we took a tour bus to Stonehenge where we experienced the ancient site. Stonehenge originated in the Neolithic period and dates from 3500 BC until 1500 BC (as the circular mound was carved out earlier and the stones placed later in its history). As you know, there are many myths and legends about the famous henge, which does invoke a sense of mystery and awe in the viewer. To this day historians and archeologists are divided on the purpose and meaning of the site, although a location of religious importance, a kind of calendar keeper, and a burial site/monument have all been posited. However, there are also many fantastical explanations. Some of my favorites include: the stones were flown/magicked there by Merlin (possible since they did come from Wales, the most likely historical location of King Arthur’s court), they were beamed there by aliens (unlikely since they are contemporary to the Pyramids, so we know the aliens were busy in Egypt at the time) and that they were built by the Druids (impossible, since the Druids came hundreds of years later). We certainly didn’t solve the mystery, but  were content to soak it in and try and capture it on film.Tente gonflable maison

Stonehenge

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Hampton Court

Hampton Court Palace, Base Court

Last weekend Virginia Program at Oxford took a field trip to Hampton Court, the once home of King Henry VIII, Queen Mary I and a young Princess Elizabeth. Hampton Court Palace has an interesting history as it was built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in 1514, but after his fall from royal favor, the palace was taken by King Henry VIII and became a monument to the Tudors. During our exploration of the grounds we got to see the famous 240 year old grape vine, the maze and the orangery. We got to see Henry and Mary’s apartments and we walked the hall the Catherine Howard ran screaming down as she begged Henry not to have her executed (it is said her ghost reenacts the scene to this day).Oppblåsbar gummibåt

Henry VII and the (less tragic) Katherine Parr

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London!

Over the past few weekends my friends and I have been to London several times. These trips included a visit to London Tower (saw the crown jewels and the famous ravens), a cruise down the Thames pirate ship jumper, a ride on the London Eye, a “Royal Day Out” at Buckingham Palace (saw the changing of the guard and Kate Middleton’s wedding dress), as well as an organ recital at Westminster Abbey and seeing As You Like It at the Globe theater.

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“Sweet” Things

On Friday afternoon I again joined Sweet Briar librarian Julie Kane and Professor Tony Lilly in an exploration of Oxford; first stop: the covered market. I tried Ben’s cookies at the behest of Professor Cathy Gutierrez and they were amazing. We then wandered over to a fabulous chocolate shop and found a candy bar called “Think Pink” for it’s pink marbled decoration. Julie then treated Tony and I to a tour of Merton College where she is studying. Overall, it was a very “sweet” afternoon!

Me, Julie, and Tony with the "Think Pink" chocolate bar

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Wonderland?

Oxford is a town famous for its many pubs, but this Thursday my friends and I wandered outside the city a bit to visit The Perch. Perhaps most famous for being a haunt of author Lewis Carroll (and supposedly part of the inspiration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), this pub is a 17th century thatched inn that may just be the most scenic place I’ve visited in Oxford. To get there from St. Annes you have to cross Port Meadow and the Thames and walk for half an hour, providing a lovely, sunset after dinner stroll that was absolutely worth the time.

The Perch

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