Oberlin-in-London Blogs

Visiting King Arthur
››› August 17, 2011 | Posted By Arielle Swernoff '14

A clever and creative introduction:

Ok, I've got nothing. I'll just begin.

My name is Arielle Swernoff (fun fact: I am one of only thirteen Swernoffs in the entire world), and I'm an intended politics and math double-major and second-year at Oberlin College. At home, I have one sister, two parents, and a bear disguised as a dog. At school, I spend most of my time in Mudd, our fabulously colorful library, but I moonlight as the Voting Rights Coordinator for the Oberlin College Democrats (are you registered to vote?), and spend a great deal of time drinking apple cider and discussing gender, philosophy, politics, dinosaurs, would-you-rathers, and how much we love Oberlin with my friends. I'm from Orinda, California, a small town just east of Oakland/Berkeley, and I really, really love Northern California.

Seriously, I hella love NorCal. I love everything from Inverness and Point Reyes to Monterey and Santa Cruz to Oakland and San Francisco. I love the hills and the redwoods and of course the food. I don't do much long-distance traveling, but in 19 years, I haven't run out of things to explore or new places to go. There's always a new subculture to discover or restaurant to try, or hike, or neighborhood. But California has been both the origin and destination of my travels, and as magical and beautiful as it is, I want to go further. If there's this much discovery to be had inside of one half of one state, how much must there be as the scale of the journey increases?

London is far and above the largest-scale traveling I will have done. My forays outside of the United States include a trip to Club Med in Mexico at the age of three, four days in Vancouver, and my cousin's destination wedding on an American-populated resort. I have a passport, certainly, but it has no stamps. It will be no surprise, then, that I am thrilled (albeit terrified) at the prospect of spending four months "across the pond."

It's not just the prospect of going far away that's exciting. I was drawn to the idea of studying abroad in England long before I heard of the Oberlin-in-London program. For this, I have Jennifer Ginsburg, traveler extraordinaire and one of my best friends, to thank. Jennifer and I are friends from high school, and the required summer reading for our 12th grade AP English included T. H. White's The Once and Future King. We were both enchanted with the story of King Arthur and the other characters of his world. We began keeping a list of the places important to Arthurian legend, and decided that we would one day visit each of them, armed with not only The Once and Future King, but Le Morte d'Arthur and Malory's The Whole Book of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as well.

Over time, this list expanded, and now includes enough sites to be reasonably called an English Literary Odyssey. We'll visit 221B Baker Street, wander around the Lake Country reading the Romantic poets, and explore the sites of the Once and Future King himself. I don't by any means expect the Oberlin-in-London program to be a fulfillment of this goal, but our list instilled in me a deep desire to travel to that city, a place where I can see a building and say to myself, I've read about that! Literature and history happened here!

You know why I'm drawn to London; next, if you're interested, I can talk about what appealed to me specifically about the Oberlin-in-London program. To the probably limited number of people reading this: have a wonderful rest of your summer--may it be filled with sunshine, books, and hopefully not too many dinosaurs.

Responses To This Entry:

Dearest Arielle – I’m so happy that you have this fantastic opportunity to walk in Sherlock Holmes’ footsteps, to explore the countryside King Arthur fought for and get to know the country Winston Churchill defended. I will eagerly be waiting back on the Yankee side of the pond to hear stories of your adventures. I would wish you good luck, but you don’t need it. You’re an incredible person, and I’m so glad you’re my friend.

Posted by: Jennifer Ginsburg on August 20, 2011 3:20 AM

Arielle: While I commend you for your good wishes, I must object to your comment about dinosaurs—namely, that I do not see too many of them.

The dinosaur is a fascinating being, whether it lopes around eating lush ferns or devours small and frightful insects. Due to a variety of reasons, the dinosaur is a particularly difficult creature to spot, and so a summer of "too many" dinosaurs would simply not be possible. By "a variety of reasons," I mean to say, "exactly one reason: the dinosaur is extinct."

In the future, please be a bit more sensitive to the dinosaur's needs. Though this beautiful being is no longer extant, its spirit lives on in the hearts of many. A summer filled with dinosaurs would truly be a blessing.

Sincerely yours,

Posted by: Max Coleman on December 4, 2011 11:41 PM

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