Nighttime in Oxford; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Literature


It’s dead week here – okay, who do I think I’m kidding? Dead week at OU is about the farthest thing possible from dead… which means, well, alive. (Sigh.)

But at any rate, this means that I am SUPER DUPER BUSY, by which I mean “two big papers and four big finals ahahaha oh god have mercy on my soul.” On top of that, my muse kind of didn’t come back from Thanksgiving break, or maybe merged Thanksgiving and Christmas break, or something like that. Whatever the case may be, the muse is not musing, not even for my English classes. It’s times like this when I need to remind myself why I’m an English major in the first place.

I’ve blogged before about my study abroad trip to Oxford (and London and various other places in England), but I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that that trip literally changed my life. As in, I had my first bona fide English Major Moment(TM) while in Oxford.  For context, a bit of stage-setting:  I had recently finished my freshman year at OU as a biochemistry major.  On this particular occasion, I was writing a paper on the nature of disguise in Twelfth Night. It was about 3 am, and the part of High Street I could see from my window in Brasenose College was bereft of its usual yowling drunkards for once.  Everything was dead quiet… except for me.

“Viola is chewing Orsino out!” I whispered to myself as I paced around my room, Viola’s words in Act II Scene 4 echoing in my head. I’d been up for hours, working on this godforsaken paper. I wasn’t going to sleep any time soon, though, not when Viola was using her disguise as “Cesario” to tell Orsino exactly how wrong he was about everything.  I could feel my mind spreading, like a flag blown by wind. I couldn’t stay still. I loved Shakespeare.  I loved literature.  I was giddy about the stuff, even downright euphoric.

I’d never felt like this about biochemistry.

I shoved this newfound revelation out of my mind once I got back to the States, of course. I had a plan for my life, dad gum it, and it did not involve Shakespeare or writing in any way whatsoever. Nope. Definitely not…

…yeah, that only lasted until the second day of sophomore year. I eventually got over myself and admitted I wasn’t happy as a biochem major anymore. Soon after that, I switched majors, and though I took a while to get my obstinate head out of the sand in re: not wanting to be pre-med anymore, I eventually came around. But my year-long career-related existential crisis is a saga for another day.  For now, I’m just content to remember my 3 AM moment of clarity in Oxford, that one moment that basically changed everything.

There, let’s hope that fixes my English-major’s block.  I’ll see y’all on the other side of this gigantic pile of books…

A different angle on my view from my window. Image from


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