The Beginning of Hilary (and the Beginning of Trump)

Of the many pictures I’ve taken of the Radcliffe Camera, this one is undoubtedly my favorite yet.

For anyone who thought I made a confusing reference and/or careless typo in the title, let me clear this up: I am now in my second term at Oxford, which is called Hilary Term. The second title, however, needs no explanation. Read on to see what I’ve been doing since I returned to Oxford, and of course, since Trump has been inaugurated.

I had mixed feelings about coming back to Oxford. On one hand, I had such a wonderful break with my family and friends that I was sorry to see it end. It was so nice to sit back and relax without a paper to finish, and I didn’t realize how much I had missed home until I was there again. Waiting to board my London-bound flight at JFK, I felt guilty for dragging my feet. I was going back to Oxford! I should be practically running to my seat, counting down the hours, right? On the other hand, I was glad to be returning so I can make sure I get the best experience possible. I can do more things, go on more trips, and I would have fresh energy to keep me motivated. All because I have more time.

Back to the afternoon tea life

Once I took a little walk around Oxford, I felt a lot better. I remembered how much I enjoy my life, my routine here. And I was ready to fall back into that routine, which I did pretty quickly (especially because I had to get to work on papers more or less immediately). At a reception for visiting students, I caught up with a few of the remaining ones and met the six new recruits. All while snacking on smoked salmon canapés and champagne, of course.

The rest of the week was a typical Oxford week. I read stuff for class, made library and Tesco runs, cut loose at the first Bop of the term. More often I cut loose with movie nights and lots of TV. I had my first tutorial, I actually went to a few lectures. I “ran” (read: lightly jogged) through the Uni Parks. I started listening to Podcasts!

As I hoped I would, I’ve had a ton of energy since I came back. Not just physical energy (though I have that too), the kind of energy that compels you to be productive all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always working on class stuff. I’m being productive in other ways, like reading the news, catching up on TV shows, listening to NPR, walking into town more. Perhaps it’s because I’m comfortable here. Perhaps it’s a phase that’ll pass quickly. Either way, I’m definitely exploiting the energy while it lasts.

Baby’s (left) first protest! Hats courtesy of a kind stranger

When I saw that there would be a Women’s March on London, I decided I had to go. How could I let myself pass up such a potentially historic demonstration? I wanted to do what I could to stand up to the injustices I saw dragged into the spotlight by our country’s new leader. So when a fellow visiting student asked if anyone else was going, I immediately said yes, and three of us got on a bus to London on Saturday morning.

I was surrounded by people who felt just like I did, who couldn’t believe what’s happening, who wanted to protect each other. I was astounded by the crowds and incredibly proud to be there. Even in Oxford, where I don’t think I’ve come across a single Trump supporter, British or American, I felt outnumbered. But seeing the massive amount of people who came to the march in a country far from America made me realize that we are not alone, and also that we are not the only ones frustrated by the world we live in. To put it simply, I felt like part of a community. Part of a movement. I felt empowered.

Men, women, and children all marching from the U.S. Embassy to Trafalgar Square

The signs were amazing. Some were elaborate and touching, some were succinct and witty. Some were held by children, who were protesting the most visible bully and validated in the country. Those were especially moving. And while I didn’t catch any of the speeches from the rally in Trafalgar Square, I left the protest both comforted and invigorated. The more pictures I see of marches around the world, the prouder I am to have participated. I’m sure that those of you who also marched on Saturday feel the same.

Me too!

Now it’s the beginning of week two here at Oxford. I’ll finish some papers, read a lot more, celebrate Burns Night (see the Bonus British Bit below) on Friday, and start planning spring break travel. I’m definitely excited to see what this term holds. It’s off to a great start.


Bonus British Bit: Burns Night is a Scottish tradition celebrating the life of the poet Robert Burns, whose best known piece is “Auld Lang Syne.” Officially, the holiday takes place on January 25th, but we in Oxford (and those in London, I’m told) will observe it over the weekend. The celebration involves eating haggis (a kind of sausage) and drinking whisky, perhaps donning kilts and dancing, too. While Guy Fawkes Day is fascinating and fun, the popularity of the less morbid Burns Night makes me wish we Americans had more quirky holidays to honor random influential people.


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