First Impressions: Oxford, England

My days studying abroad in Oxford, England are all over the place but in the best possible way. Most days I’ll go out to lunch with a friend or eat oatmeal back at the room. A favorite of mine has been a crepe café with creamy coffee and addicting deserts.  I tell myself I’ll only go one day each week then find myself there at least twice. I’ve also been experimenting with cooking dinner but all the food I make is hit or miss. When in doubt, I opt to try new restaurants with people if I don’t feel like cooking. 

All the Americans came in thinking pubs equated to diners, but they are quite the opposite. We quickly figured out the food isn’t much for eating and got sick of it fast. While New England prepared me to enjoy fish and chips, I can only eat so much fried food. The pub burgers are nearly purple on the inside and taste more like flesh than barbecue. However, some pubs have great live music and it’s fun to go for a coke and the atmosphere.

Despite many classmates’ tendency to take the bus, I’ve found the weather perfect for walking everywhere. Where the weather in New England is freezing with snow landscapes right now, Oxford takes on a weather pattern I’m used to in March-cloudy but not rainy with some wind. While the walk from my residence to the academic building is around thirty minutes, I enjoy looking around the streets and people watching. Many ride bikes or scooters, a practice we would make fun of in New England. However, many people also walk, and they all seem friendly enough, smiling in passing.

While surrounding villages seem boring in passing filled with plain brick buildings, Oxford’s City Centre is stunning with its illustrious architecture. The occasional Anglo Saxon church peaks out next to buildings with more grandeur. The occasional powder pink or blue home also makes appearances throughout the streets. Oxford University itself covers most of the space and students fill up all the surrounding cafes and libraries. The Sheldonian Theatre’s unusual shape draws eyes, mounting its sure presence with its rounded figure that ends. The Radcliffe Camera, of course, cannot be ignored due to its magnificent size and circulating structures. It makes a fantastic contribution to the already grand Bodleian Library.

I’m starting to understand phrase “everything old is new in fashion” more as I’ve noticed a lot of clothes my mom has from her college days in the 90s are back in style here. In particular, I wish I brought her long black blazer coat with me as everyone here has one.

I did not realize Oxford would have so many cultures living in it all at once. My high school Mandarin lessons have come in handy as I hear many people speaking it on buses. So far, I’ve only been able to understand a mother telling her son to take a seat when he was climbing all over the chairs, but I love practicing my listening skills. While England seems European from a glance, I’m getting much more of a multicultural experience and am glad for it.

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