Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Last Day

Today we found one more opportunity to get a picture of the group in Jesus College where we've been staying. This evening we concluded the program with a final dinner at a great British restaurant called Browns. We've had an amazing group and a very successful program.

Presentations Continued...

Here are the rest of the group presentations. They were terrific and all very different. These groups did India, Japan and Mexico.

Group Presentations

We are in the middle of the students' final group presentations. Each group is presenting on business and culture in the US, the UK and another country of their choice. So far we've seen Russia and Brazil. In keeping with our very unusual string of good luck with weather, our last day here is absolutely beautiful. The students are enjoying some time outside in the quad during a break between the presentations. I will post more on the remainder of the groups later in the day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


We walked down to the famous Christ Church College in Oxford for a photo today after class. Groups are now diligently working on their projects and presentations for tomorrow.

Last London Day

On Monday we took our last group trip to London. We again started out early to make it through all the traffic in London and maximize the day. We started with the Tower of London. The weather was beautiful yet again and so we enjoyed time inside and outside the tower buildings. One of the most exciting things for many students was that this is where the Crown Jewels are housed. This includes crowns, scepters and other royal objects that are used during coronations and other formal occasions. The jewels themselves are exquisite, but along with them comes the stories and rich histories of the British monarchy. Unfortunately, but quite understandably, no photos were allowed. If you're at all interested though, it's worth doing a web search and you can see the extensive collection that makes up the Crown Jewels as it is quite impressive.
The Tower also has an elaborate display of armor worn by many past kings, including some especially notable individuals such as Henry VIII. There are also buildings where high profile prisoners were held in the tower. In one tower the prisoners created intricate "graffiti" which was actually a series of detailed stone carvings. These were created mainly during the 1500s and are all still preserved today.

After the Tower, we ate lunch nearby and then walked to the Tube to ride to the British Museum. The students read an article about the Rosetta Stone and were able to see this first. The Rosetta Stone was originally discovered in Egypt and had etchings in multiple languages. As such, it was one of the first bilingual texts ever discovered and helped us to decipher the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Though the Rosetta Stone has been housed at the British Museum for over 200 years, in recent years Egypt has called for it to be returned to them. The issue remains an international controversy.

The rest of the late afternoon and evening students were free to stay in London and explore on their own. Some stayed late and others headed back to Oxford early since now our days here are few.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Exam, Fish & Chips and Churchill's Birthplace

Thursday morning started with an exam over the material up to this point in the course. After everyone finished, the group walked to the bus station to ride a city bus to Blenheim Palace. It was a double decker (of course!) and the ride took about 30 minutes. When we arrived, we walked into the town of Woodstock and went to a fish and chips place that was recommended to us by the Shakespearean scholars who visited earlier in the week. It turned out to be a great recommendation. The people who worked there were extremely friendly to the surprise group of 27 people who showed up at their restaurant. Fortunately they had enough seats for us as it started to pour rain as soon as we arrived. Most people had the fish and chips, but there were other great options too.
On my wait to the restroom, I discovered the secret to these delicious chips - heaps of bags of real potatoes. This place did it the old fashioned way and cut, soaked and fried the potatoes themselves with nothing frozen! I couldn't resist including the picture of the potato bags below and of course in true English style there was a pair of Wellington boots right in the bottom left of the picture.

We then walked to Blenheim Palace which has a long history, but is most well known now as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The rain continued as we walked to the palace, but our group has been here long enough they knew to come prepared!
We had a tremendous guide who offered all sorts of wonderful information and even tailored the tour for our students. She wove in great information on how the palace functions as a business and talked about the financial, marketing and logistical operations of the site. Unfortunately pictures weren't allowed inside the palace, but it was truly amazing. It still functions as a residence and currently, Sir John George Vanderbilt Spencer-Churchill, the 11th Duke of Marlborough lives in the palace. Yes, the names are all those you're familiar with. Vanderbilt as in the American Vanderbilts who are connected to the lineage by marriage, Spencer as in those related to the late Princess Diana and of course Churchill. We were told the Duke, referred to as His Grace, was in the day we visited. The two signs were the flag flying over the palace and his black Range Rover parked out front. His is the only vehicle allowed inside the palace grounds. Because it still functions in part as a residence, the palace all felt very alive. The rooms were all still fully furnished and artwork and artifacts were abundant. After the tour, the rain cleared and the group enjoyed the grounds on their own before heading back to Oxford.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shakespeare on a Cool Summer Night

Wednesday evening we went to see the opening night of a production of Romeo and Juliet here in Oxford. The venue was wonderful on the roof of the Said Business School. They offered a special pre-theater meal of Italian pizza, pastas and salad at a very reasonable price. Nearly the whole group chose to take advantage of this and arrived early. We started the performance in a courtyard and then all moved up to the amphitheater. The characters were in dress complete with Lady Capulet in stiletto heels. Cameras were unfortunately forbidden (which I discovered after taking pictures of our group) so unfortunately we don't have more photos. The scenery was minimal though the actors were so talented the play worked wonderfully. Unfortunately as it was opening night there was a bit of disruption in the production with some lighting difficulties which made the play last a bit longer than normal. After the sun set it was especially cool and several people rented blankets to stay warm. All in all though, it was a good evening.