Letters from Abroad

Oxford: First Impressions

As of Sunday October 5th, I’ve been in the UK for exactly four days. First impressions: England is a lot like America, only more British. The people here are infinitely better dressed, definitely much more reserved and absolutely rigid about their queues. On my first grocery run, I mistakenly got on line on the wrong side, and was sharply corrected, despite the fact that there was no one else to queue behind.

The British are very pleasant about directions, however, and I would know because I have gotten lost walking to every single place that I have ventured forth to on my own. It may be that not all who wander are lost, but I’m definitely among those lost wanderers. At least there’s plenty to look at while wandering and lost! Oxford truly is a beautiful city. When I walk down the street, I am constantly craning my neck to take in the gorgeous buildings around me, the ivy climbing up the walls, the cobblestone streets and of course, the poshly dressed people. Oxford is postcard-perfect, from the adorable children shrieking in British accents to the men in tweed jackets whizzing by on bicycles.

I hadn’t expected to stand out as so obviously American. Even before I open my mouth, I get the sense that everything from my clothes to my backpack marks me as a tourist. And I still feel like a tourist! As much as I’d like to blend in and pretend to be a savvy Oxford student, the first thing I did upon entering Mansfield’s library was snap a picture to send to my parents.

I did get to play tourist for the day when I went to London. Getting there by bus couldn’t have been easier, and a student ticket only costs £13 round trip, which is very exciting, as it means I can hopefully take many more trips there to explore the city! I spent the whole day there, saw the British Museum, the National Gallery, and got my obligatory tourist photos (one with a red phone booth and one with the Harry Potter luggage trolley in King’s Cross Station) and of course I’ve barely scratched the surface.

After four days in the UK, a trip to London, and some initial struggles with navigation, separate hot and cold taps as well as locking and unlocking my door, I’d say I’ve settled into Oxford fairly well. Next challenge: getting a handle on my classes and how to do work at Oxford! The adventure continues….