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Avantika Singhal

Teen JWB Curator/Blogger

Part 2: JWB’s Velvet-Eyed Blogger Is Living It Up With Her Girl Gang At Oxford

  • JWB Post
  •  July 26, 2016


If I ever have the pleasure of getting a Time Machine as one of my prized possessions, I will travel back in time and relive every moment at Oxford

I can still remember the first day. How I woke up, got ready and anticipated the feeling that would come as I would have breakfast in The Hall of Christ Church.

In reality, the hall is smaller than you think but its walls are skillfully dominated by paintings of  Henry the 8th, W.H Auden and many more. The fact that this is where all the Harry Potter movies were shot is remarkable to know. The breakfast was obviously lavish and it wasn’t like there were inadequate options for the vegetarians. Hash browns, beans, porridge and lots of fruits made up for my breakfast. And it was filling and delicious.

4th July was the day we all would have our first session and I was studying Creative Writing. The duration of our sessions was three hours altogether on Monday and Tuesday, and it is safe to say that we all looked forward to the sessions and were not lackluster about them.

Our seminars were interesting and demanded spontaneity and coherence from us. We all had to critique each other’s work and give appropriate feedback about it. A heavy weight seemed to lift off of my shoulders as I could feel my writing improve slowly but surely by the comments.

I had the honor of becoming friends with Eddy. He is from Quebec, Canada and was the only guy in our creative writing class. He has the extraordinary ability to crack jokes, and when he spewed slangs unexpectedly, it would make us crack up and help thin the air of intense discussions during the sessions.

While being there, I immersed myself in the new world of reading poetry and short stories by authors I had never even heard the name of. Our teacher, Mrs. Camilla is a wonderful human being with a passionate love for Literature. Her family descends from Ireland and she has been a part of this teaching program for years now.

The sessions were so liberating. You have no one to be scared of, you can speak your heart out. You couldn’t finish your homework last night? Okay, no one will perish you. You want to say something completely irrelevant to what the class is discussing? Go ahead.

No restrictions and that is what made our sessions the best.

Also, on Thursday, we had a one to one session with our tutor and the duration was one hour wherein we would discuss the ideas in our head about the final project that we would have to submit before the course would conclude.

My final project is a 4,500-word epistolary novella revolving around the concept of a hallucinating Cinderella. In a series of letters to her father, she explains how she thinks that she may slowly be going crazy and how her stepmother and stepsisters are humiliating her in the worst of ways and making her labor away in her own house.

I remember that in the silence of the classroom, my stomach would rumble with hunger, and my cheeks would flush red in embarrassment. I have a bad habit of prioritizing work more than food when I am away from family.

When it comes to other students who were a part of the summer school, well, they all are family now.

We were an electrifying amalgamation of people coming from different countries who brought along various, entertaining anecdotes from our cultures and social backgrounds.

I became good friends with a girl named Farheen. She is from Pakistan and whenever she would tell us about what it is like to live in Islamabad, we would gather around her and listen with rapt attention. For instance, she told us that most of the people in Pakistan have a tight knit and strong Protection Service set up for themselves and their families.

The first friend that I made was from Delhi, India. Her name is Palak. She was studying Psychology there, and she talked about the subject with an unquestionable fervor. Eerily, on one or two occasions, we woke up at the same time in the morning and when we did, we would message the other. It was disturbingly funny.

The first REAL hangout (outside college) that I went on was with another friend (and now one of my best friends) named Nehal. On certain occasions I have teased her by calling her ‘mom’ due to the sole fact that she looked out for me EVERY TIME. Although, I was her little supplier of Wai Wai Noodles and soya chips! Pertaining to the laws of being a Decent Human Being, she has not looked at me with a death stare for calling her that until now. I hope it stays that way!

Nehal is an ambitious and intelligent girl, synthesized with an eternal inching for wanderlust. She introduced me to things that I never thought I would be put in place to. Her writing was filled with beauty, elegance and a cleanness I think I can never achieve. I feel grateful to be friends with a person who I bared my soul to. We have spent some very memorable times together. Making last minute plans for drinks, eating pizzas late at night, gossiping and getting kicked out of clubs. We have had a magical friendship.

Next, comes Iona. Her glorifying personality, her amazing writing, her friendly disposition and the fact that she could not only speak English but also French and some Spanish stunned me. Her dance moves were hilarious and adorable but her singing was phenomenal.

We all fondly call her ‘Bona’.

You say ’Buna’ when you want to say ‘hello’ to someone in Romanian.

Call me when those two things make sense.

Last but not the least, I’d like to write about Anita. A human being so beautiful inside out that my words won’t be able to do justice to her personality. She epitomizes the phrase ‘Beauty With Brains’ effortlessly. She is so pragmatic in her actions and intelligent with her speech.

When we were first being shown around Oxford, we started chatting and could not be stopped.

Anita and Farheen are also responsible for taking me to new breakfast places every day and watching me struggle with finishing my food.

(It was a lovely sight)

If you ever wander off to Oxford, make sure you begin your day by eating Scrambled Eggs at Brown’s, Oxford or devouring a falafel salad at Prett-A-Manger.

We also have a girl group on WhatsApp called the Patooties and the conversations that go down in it are nothing but hilarious, It is also the realm of discussing creepy guys and how our naps were.

Important Stuff.

Now, while we had seminars till afternoon, we were rewarded in the evening for all the studying that we did by being taken to exciting events like the Bill Spectre ghost walk-a-walk hosted by an insightful man presenting the history of Oxford in the most creative way by being overly dramatic when explaining how several ghosts haunted various streets and college rooms of Oxford (it wasn’t scary but entertaining nevertheless), a Shakespearean Play (someone dozed off there, I will not tell you who “winks”) and a classical music concert.

The highlight of the first week of the summer course was the Quiz that we had. It was the traditional British Pub Quiz (except it wasn’t in the pub) where we were divided up into three teams and had to write the answers down.

We named our girl team ‘Doritos’. I don’t think you would be surprised by that tiny piece of information.

When the question about who Ruby Rai from Bihar State was, I almost jumped in exaltation and overexcitement for I knew!

Fridays used to be eventful as our dinner would be served in the Great Dining Hall of Christ Church. It was a four course meal. Iona, I and Nehal were hardcore vegetarians. Thus, we were given a bright red card stating ‘Vegetarian’ very legibly and we would have to have the card with us throughout the meal. It was a tedious yet satisfying process since the food was worth it.

We all would have one of those we-don’t-want-to-ruin-the-presentation-of-the-food moments as well! Tofu, asparagus, and fried potatoes were the real stars. Crème Brule one time and a rich chocolate pastry served with strawberries and vanilla ice cream at another.

It was an extremely formal occasion and all the ladies dolled up for it and so did the guys!

The experience was priceless but it was the people who made it more special than ever!

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