New Habits

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Jamie and me in front of the new entrance to LMH!

The last week here in Oxford has been a quiet one. Since I last wrote, I’ve spent almost all of my time working through David Copperfield. One highlight, however, was showing my fellow llama Jamie around Oxford! I got to play tour guide for a day, visit a few of my favorite food spots, and of course, catch up with a friend. As there’s not a whole lot going on and I’m closing in on the end of my second term abroad, I figured I’d share some of the new habits I’ve picked up since coming to England in the hopes of inspiring similar self-improvement ventures.

Back home in Texas and at Cornell, I can probably count the number of times I’ve made my bed (ever) on one hand. Why pull the sheets back up when you’re just gonna get back under them in a few hours? Yet in Oxford, I’ve made my bed every day without fail. Along the same lines, I keep a much cleaner room than I ever have in my whole life. I’m not sure what exactly caused the change of heart, but perhaps it’s having a small room all to myself that’s made me want to maintain its tidiness. My bed, being twin-sized, low to the ground, and only covered by a comforter, is also significantly easier to make, so I’m sure that has something to do with it.

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Still writing in that bad boy!

In addition to books, I can’t resist buying empty journals. Pretty blank pages call my name, but as soon as I’ve written a few entries, I tend to abandon them, wittingly or unwittingly. I have tons of partially filled journals lying around my room at home. Yet after spending four weeks writing three journal entries a day in Rome, I realized that a book filled with my thoughts and observations was the best trip souvenir I could possibly take home, so I resolved to do the same during my whole year abroad. I’m proud to say that I have kept the resolution! While I fell off the everyday habit after a few months, I still write every other day, if not every day, with occasional longer lapses. Not every entry is particularly interesting, but I imagine it’ll be really valuable for me down the line when I want to remember and reminisce about being a twenty/twenty-one-year old living abroad and studying at Oxford.

I have taken to “running” (in reality, it is 50% light jogging, 50% walking) through Uni Parks, but as this has become infrequent as of late, I’m not sure it’s entirely worth mentioning.

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Because I was back from England, I made my friends go to afternoon tea in NYC (Harney and Sons, Soho)

My favorite new habit that I’ve formed here is definitely afternoon tea. I don’t go for the whole-hog, finger sandwich/scone/cake tier all the time. I do, however, around 3:00 or 4:00 each afternoon, make myself a cup of tea in my Beauty and the Beast Chip mug, grab a sweet snack, and relax for a bit. It’s an excellent way to take a study break and not go cross-eyed after hours of reading, and while my schedule might not be as flexible when I return to Cornell, I’ll definitely still try to take some time to unwind with tea everyday.

While I haven’t made drastic changes to the way I live my life everyday, these new little habits do make a difference. However, I can’t really explain how or why, other than their literal effects. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

Two more weeks until the end of the term, then I’ll be gallivanting around Europe for a little while. The posts about those trips, I’m sure, will be a lot more interesting than the meek one you just made it through. Check back in a bit for pictures and whatnot! Until then, I’ll be reading and writing and waiting for spring break.

~Natalie

Bonus British Bit: Pancake Day is tomorrow (Tuesday, February 28th)! While it might sound like one of those lame, generic “XXX day”s that nobody knew existed until they saw the proliferation of posts on Facebook and Instagram, Pancake Day is actually a very real thing in the UK. According to this article I found on Mirror, Pancake Day is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday–in America, this would be Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. Also known as Shrove Tuesday, it’s a day of gluttonous eating to kick off Lent. Even in Oxford, there are restaurants in town serving up a special Pancake Day menu; in London, the options are even greater.

One more “British Bit” about the pancakes: Here in England, pancakes are kind of like a cross between a thin French crêpe and a fluffy, thick American pancake. A common way to eat them is with lemon juice and sugar, then maybe some berries rolled up inside. And, of course, there’s also Nutella. Looking forward to celebrating Pancake Day all day tomorrow…

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