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Harry Potter, Oxford, and the Whole Enchilada

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I am freshly home from ten days in the UK. Most of the time was spent in Oxford while attending a conference at the University; the rest was spent with delightful friends nearer to London.

I am pretty sure that it'll be easy to get over this particular brand of jet lag. Coming east to west is supposedly easier than the other way around.

What an amazing opportunity I had over the last ten-days. I spent the last five of them in Oxford; I spent the last five days as a participant of the first Renaissance Weekend outside the US. It was particularly amazing. Firstly, I stayed at Pembroke College's student housing, Stairway 10, room 11. A very handsome student cell, I must add.

Some of the highlights I can share, as the Weekends are strictly off-the-record, is that I was honored to attend a Banquet Dinner in Charles I's Parliament as well as the Dining Hall as featured in the first Harry Potter movie. Tudor Hall was built in 1529 and sits lovingly in the arms of Christ Church College.

On Friday last, I supped at the Bodleian Library. The Bodeleian is supposedly the oldest library still in existence. The Library of Congress is a modern attempt at replicating the Bodleian. And of course, the Bodleian is also the library featured in Harry Potter as well.

Every morning, I tried to get up to eat breakfast in Pembroke Hall, but failed all but twice. The grounds of Pembroke and the grounds of all of the colleges of Oxford are amazingly lush and unforgivingly beautiful.

It seems odd but its true that everybody carried a sense of the seriousness and tradition of the University of Oxford -- or at least the fellows of the University's colleges.

The tourists and locals were plenty happy with going to the nightclubs and getting very pissed and eating huge pitas of doner kebab and chips; as did I on the nights when the youngins of Renaissance and I ran amok, enjoying the wet cobbled streets and the euphoric nature of the weekend and the collection of souls.

During the days, we collected in the Examination Schools wherein we discussed any number of topics, all of which were off-the-record and as such, amazingly open, honest, truthful, and expressive in much the same way that everyday isn't.

I had an opportunity to meet, spend time, and get to know people who differ from me in age, religion, education, socioeconomics, politics, gender, race in an environment where none of that matters. And it doesn't, as hard as that might be to truly accept.

It is a very rare experience; its an experience that is in fact not just a whole greater than the sum of its parts but in fact its a whole that is exponentially greater then the sum of its parts.

I have more to share, but this is good for now.

Aug 06, 2002 12:55 PM