Things I've learned about the British people: if there is anything that can be done in the opposite way that Americans do it, they will do it that way. The way they drive on the road, the way they don't tint their car windows, the direction of their outlets, the way you switch on lights, the direction of the toilet water, everything. They've mastered the art of doing the exact opposite ....or maybe it's us that has mastered the art, either way, it almost always seems to end up in me nearly getting killed. (Mom, if you're reading this I didn't really mean killed. It was just a BMW that nearly took me out because I looked in the wrong direction of oncoming traffic. No biggie. Really.)
But besides nearly becoming a new hood ornament on someone's BMW I went to Oxford today (how prestigious that sounds, forgive me a moment, I must go put on my silk robe and slippers before I sink into my plush leather chair and enjoy my cigar and whiskey as I tell you my prestigious story). It was quite the route to get there.
(yech! I'm eating a microwave dinner that I bought at the local store here, it's like a lean cuisine, and it tastes nas-ty! They still haven't mastered the art of using spices despite pillaging the indies, anybody who knows their history will know what I'm talking about here, anyway I digress).
I met up with Jane and her son Austin for this delightful trip to Oxford. Jane had been to Oxford before about 3 years ago so she was fairly certain as to how to get there. She was nice, sweet, and very cheerful. She insisted that I use her cell phone to call my fiancé when she discovered I was engaged and touring the world (well, Europe) for 30 days. She had a hankering for Reba Macintire music (yes I spelled that wrong, let's move on) and a love of all things foreign. She got me excited about seeing Europe when I expressed my hesitation about me getting excited over anything, while her son Austin managed to laugh at my self depreciating jokes and stare out the train window when I bored him. We split ways when we arrived at Oxford as I had my interview to go to and they wanted to see Oxford on the hop-on-hop-off buses. I managed to find the OII (Oxford Internet Institute) fairly easily.
Oxford isn't that far from the trains, about a 10 minute walk. I went into the interview with some hesitation, mostly due to my lack of preparedness and my sunburnt skin, that which I got from spending one too many days in the water in Austin a week before. I didn't have that much to be hesitant over. My interview with Mr. B caught me off guard however because I quickly realized he wasn't British. Something I had kinda set my heart on (it's not everyday you get to interview a British man). Regardless he nearly charmed the socks off me. Quite an agreeable fellow (that phrase is so British) with a lot of wit and humor. I was quite disappointed in my lack of wit during the interview, I blame it entirely on my delayed jet lag. Nonetheless he answered my questions and humored me with his recent research which I found fascinating. I didn't even realize our hour long appointment time turned into an hour and a half. After an abrupt end and exit, I walked around Oxford for a while preparing myself to be wowed. I was slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong it's lovely, the architecture is astounding, and the whole thing glamourous, but yet something was lacking. (Man, this cuisine is gross). I don't know if I can pinpoint it now, but maybe I'll be able to look back and say this is what was missing. Either way I left Oxford with a so-so attitude about the whole thing.
I did walk around the grounds though (the ones that weren't closed and the ones that didn't charge, hey I'm a poor student) and take some pictures. I also eavesdropped on the tour guides (no way was I paying 10 pounds) and found out some interesting facts. They have this carnation rule for Oxford students, something about white, pink, and red carnations and finals week. And something about leis too. They also have one of the most famous pubs in Oxford, apparently some of the big brains went there. I took a picture because it will last longer than my memory these days. I'll try to remember to post it.
I managed to stumble across a coffee shop with wifi, a rarity in these parts. So I updated my blog and checked my emails and skyped a few people. I found myself in the same spot nearly 3 hours later. This is why I shouldn't have access to the web or telephone, I get sucked into it like a dustball up against a vacuum cleaner. I don't stand a chance.
All in all though, I like Oxford's environment. It's like New York City with the hustle and bustle but at a level where the volume is a little more tolerable and the people are a little more like neighbors. Its quaint, old, educated, and deliciously slightly pompous....enough for me to want to put them in their place. I could see myself living in a place like that. It would be quite a nice place to settle in and call home. Maybe I'll do that.
Cheers (I have to say it, I'm in freaking England).