6 July 2004
Tuesday morning–beautiful sunny skies.
I left the story Saturday night, watching Strictly Come Dancing.
Sunday morning we got up, had another great breakfast (I really like Scottish porridge), then off to the rail station. I had already finished The Gnostic Gospels and Richard Dawkin's River out of Eden, so I bought Parallel Lines about the British Rail system for the long trip back. The views out the window were great, especially along the coast and the beautiful bridges in Newcastle and Berwick-on-Tweed.
We got in at 5:15, and everything was closed – no Sainsbury's for some dinner supplies, nothing. So we foraged in the house for dinner, and then took a walk and played soccer on the fields. Barb, Sue, and I went to the pub for awhile to watch the Portugal v. Greece Eurocup final game.
Things are starting to slow down for us now, in the sense that the eventful things are the typical eventful things. Jenny fell into the duck pond last Thursday morning while feeding the ducks. The washing machine started smoking Sunday night, so we're doing laundry in the student's laundromat. Power went out and I had to figure out how to turn back on the switch. We tried to barbecue chicken last night, and set off the smoke alarm–and it took me forever to turn it off! Sunday night, students got drunk and set off fireworks (smuggled in from Paris) under the Provost's window, which had him furious. There's less of everything-being-totally-foreign.
What's teaching at Worcester College in GT's study abroad program like?
Different than I anticipated. Teaching a small class with no TA's takes a lot of time–I spend lots of time grading, responding to email, dealing with people at office hours (yes! I get people at office hours!). There are a bunch of things that are time sinks and Oxford-program-specific like:
- Worcester College isn't ready to handle the way we use technology. Most of the browsers on campus disable being able to download files. (Makes sharing media really hard!) Many of those that allow saving pictures won't allow saving JPEGs – only BMPs. The network seems flakey – connections come and go, and went out for half a day all over campus last week. Over the weekend, one section of student housing had no Internet because someone turned off the router in that area: no lock-and-key, just out in the open router that made annoying buzzy noises that someone decided to stop. Most of the computers have no audio hardware. It took me most of the first week to get Octave (GNU Matlab clone) and then Matlab installed here. Most printers are shared, not on the open network, so they're hard to connect to and stay connected to.
- Both students and faculty have broken their computers in various ways on the way here. Being the CS prof means that everyone comes to me to install printers, explain error messages, help re-install Windows ME, and install X-Windows on a Mac OS 10.2.
- Students are good about showing at class, but not at interacting. I have a hard time dragging answers out of them.
Today, Sue and Michele are heading off. I'm taking the kids to the library this afternoon. Sounds like normal life, just in a new country.