Oxford Summer Chronicles Day 1&2

Day 1/Day 2, Friday July 8th/Saturday July 9th: Chicken with a Side of

So I’ve never had a blog before and would indeed like to create an atmospheric introduction, but like with books, where it’s better to describe the main character as you go along by showing, rather than telling, so maybe with some close reading you can interpret my character, if you so wish.

The first day would not be particularly interesting to you, really; I left the Detroit airport with another girl from U of M and we met another student who was traveling with us, as well as a lot of MSU students who were at art programs in London. I was admittedly quite worried because the attendant at the ‘podium’, as they called the desk, was asking whether six people would volunteer to relinquish their tickets, so I had thought that perhaps my seat had been booked twice and I would be kicked out and have to wait until the next evening for the next plane. Thankfully, everything turned out well (I think the worst that happened was that I don’t particularly savor apple muffins and that was their breakfast), and we arrived at Heathrow (at around 7 AM the second day), which is terribly big and quite confusing to get around in. We had to claim our baggage –not exactly a place filled with the smell of roses— and get on a bus to take us from our terminal to Terminal 5, where we could find the Oxford bus.  As luck would have it, we were a few hundred feet behind the one that had just arrived at the stop, so we had to wait for another one. Typically, the buses come past every twenty minutes or so, but luckily another came in about five. These buses were ‘kempt’, I suppose you could say, because they were the sort you would get if you took field trips to far-away places back in elementary school and minus the televisions, they were basically the same design.

I have to say that I didn’t know that England doesn’t use the Euro in a lot of places; I had some from home and brought them here before I’d need to exchange money in the city, but whatever rates the driver was using to calculate my ticket price was at least five pounds more expensive than it should have been. So, if you go abroad, you mystery reader, it’d be advisable to convert at least a hundred dollars into your foreign currency, although it’s safest to calculate a smaller or larger amount if the dollar varies more or less than it does with the pound (roughly, a pound is about 1.6 dollars).

If you come to England and don’t have an appreciation for the countryside, then tsk tsk. It’s definitely one of the most notable and beautiful things about the UK, and who can picture Ireland or Scotland without thinking of rolling, verdant fields? Even if it’s not an appeal to you initially, when you see it in person it’s something special. That’s what I like about Nature: it feels one-on-one in a certain way, even though others can see it right when you are. It’s that whole concept of the individual and community merged into one, like the sorts that books and religions share. If you’d walk in the pastures alone and contemplate your surroundings rather than your tasks or your interactions with people for the day, I think you’d understand it without me needing to say a word. For a long time, I saw the sky without ever really seeing it.

So riding on the bus I looked out of the window and saw fields and many flocks of sheep; it’s strange, because in the Michigan-Illinois areas I’m used to driving through you see plenty of farmland but never any animals, and if you do it’s basically a horse or two, but here there’re many herds of cows and flocks of sheep! It reminded me of my family in Poland, because the drive there is somewhat similar.

When we got off in Oxford, we stopped a bit away from my college at The Queen’s College, but the walk to Magdalen College is only about two minutes away, which is nice when you have bulky suitcases and luggage to carry.

So I suppose I should talk a little bit about the colleges as in, how they’re relevant to my studying here. I actually applied through St. Peter’s and my program is ran through that college, but we’re housed by Magdalen, which I think is quite a plus and you will agree once I show you both of them.

From far away, Magdalen projects the feeling of a castle or an abbey; it’s such a big difference from the architecture of U of M, and to think we’ll actually be living there! Comparing Oxford to Poland, which is where I lived until I was three (I’ve gone back and visited quite a bit in the past), is intriguing, because they both have an older feel that I think goes for most of Europe, but the architecture distinctly varies. If you’re interested in that subject area or art history, I think it’d be a fascinating comparison study to make!

At signing in, we received an envelope with information, keys, and signed up for a group dinner out in the city to better get acquainted. The two RA’s were very helpful and friendly; they treated us appropriately for being college students but at the same time they seemed mature enough to trust with any possible personal problems. There was still some time before dinner, so I took my luggage to my room and went to sleep for a few hours, because no one gets anywhere near enough sleep on airplanes.

The dorms here are interesting because each room varies. Luckily, mine was one of the best arrangements, because I received a huge living space with couches, chairs, a desk, a fireplace, fridge, and a piano, which is excellent because I’ve just recently started playing again and now I can fit in practice (which mostly consists of learning a few notes of new songs and playing Lavender’s Blue and Ode to Joy, which are the only songs I –mostly- know from memory).

The desk area is a little messy; I apologize on your eyes…and the other room is a small bedroom with a sink and dresser.

Wow; it looks like I just leave everything laying around; don’t judge me too poorly! L I was tired after all. From what I’ve gathered, a lot of other students just have one room here and often don’t have a piano. How sad! The only downside –other than having an Ethernet port that doesn’t work, as I’ll later get to— is that this is spoiling me and is going to make me very unsatisfied with my single at South Quad next year.

After the nice nap, I got ready for dinner and met with the large group of students going. Unfortunately, I did not take my camera, but I can tell you that there was this great guide for this ghost tour that we passed; he was dressed in a top hat and Inverness cape and was speaking very dramatically to the tourists; it looked like a character from a Victorian film.

The restaurant we went to had rather good food –I had chicken with goat cheese and some red sauce, along with fries and greens— and I think it was a fair price for English pubs, but my order was misinterpreted and led to some problems. We had pre-ordered, and I didn’t remember the name of my dish because it had some Italian-sounding word in it, but I remembered the description so I described it to the bartender and she seemed to understand what I wanted. However, I did not get my meal at all, and after I spoke to the waitress about it she said what I ordered had never been received; ah! I waited quite a while and they gave me the aforementioned dish that also had bacon on it, but because I knew that what I had ordered didn’t have bacon in it, it wasn’t the correct order, but I didn’t want to cause any more trouble (and they didn’t charge me as high of a price as my original dish cost) so I ate it; it was actually pretty tasty. If you’re wondering about beers in pubs, there’s quite a variety; I actually really detest/dislike alcohol so I can’t narrate much on this topic, but the Coca Cola seems to taste better in Europe, probably because it’s from a glass bottle. The college did give us a cultural drink though that was rather interesting, but that’s for Day 3.

This was mostly it for my first actual day at Magdalen; I was still tired from the trip so I went to sleep after wandering down the streets with some of the other people in my program. The next day includes explorations of Oxford, deer, and fancy cuisine, so pique your interest and watch for the next entry!

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