Just to give you a general sense of my first week here, I'd like to start off by adding to my list of Travel Woes and Travel Pros.
First the woes...
1. Cobblestone = slippery when wet. On Tuesday, my housemates and I made the 40 plus minute round trip to Iffley Road Track to check out the facilities. Right as we got there, it began to rain and on the way back home, I totally slipped on the wet cobblestone. Well, actually it was a very slick metal square in the middle of the cobblestone, but I choose to blame it on the cobblestone. No harm done. My 8 years of being a soccer goalie kicked in (no pun intended) and I stood right back up all in one motion, so other than the rather loud and embarassing thud, it was like it never even happened. The plus side? A very nice, and rather cute young British guy who seemed rather impressed with my ability to recover so quickly asked me if I was okay and attempted to help me up even though I was already standing at the time.
2. Cobblestone Woes Part Two: before coming, we were told that we'd have to walk from the bus station to our program directors' house and then get to our own houses. I bought two new bright purple suitcases with the ability to roll in any direction, not just behind you, for this little adventure, as I thought it would make my life easier. Well, the 360 feature certainly helped in the airport. It was easier to roll my bags beside me instead of behind me, but let me tell you, cobblestone is not so forgiving and in Oxford, there's cobblestone everywhere. People tend to give you odd looks when you wheeling your luggage commandeers the whole width of the sidewalk. Anyway, I eventually checked in and made it to my house.
3. Our house was under constuction this past week which wasn't so bad other than the fact that the washer was not working properly and I really wanted to wash the clothes I wore in Spain. It has since been fixed and I have a closet full of clean clothes. Misson accomplished.
4. No dryer: so we have a washer, but no dryer and a clothesline, but no clothespins. (There's also no Walmart here to get the afore mentioned clothespins. There's pretty much a separate store here for everything.) Long story short, I draped my wet jeans over my new suitcases and they seem to be slowly drying. I'm also not opposed to whipping out the hairdryer in the future and using it to dry my clothes, since God knows I never blowdry my hair.
1. Old school city planning: Oxford reminds me of Conway, Arkansas in the sense that everything somehow eventually connects to one other, which means I haven't gotten "lost" yet, just temporarily redirected. Ever want a scenic route? Just ask me to be your tour guide. We'll get there...eventually.
2. Christmas in September: since our program has been around for so long and we've had the same houses for a number of years, lots of little goodies get left behind, including a flat iron, adapters, and a kg/stone scale with questionable calibration. There's also lots of random school supplies throughout the house. I was particularly happy to find the adapters because before I left I went to purchase some at Radioshack and was sold the wrong ones. Mine worked for US to Europe, not US to UK. Furthermore, I bought 2, totaling $62, and the smaller one was not designed properly and will not work in any European outlet. The outlets in Spain, for example, are inset in the wall, so the prongs of the adapter need to be raised on a platform in order to reach. The ones on my weren't, so I couldn't use it. I used the larger one for a couple days for 30 minutes the most at a time and then it crapped out. I'm still waiting to get my money back from Radioshack, but I will be hesitant to listen to their "experts" in the future, as I was promised by the salesman, who led me to the product in the first place, that it would work. (Sorry that this pro turned into a woe, but I'm very grateful to my OOSC predecessors who left their adapters behind.)
We started our lectures this week and went to Hampton Court Palace, which was originally built by Thomas Wosley and then later taken over by King Henry VIII when Wosley could not secure him the divorce he so desparately wanted.
Of all the reading we had to do, I have decided my favorite was a play called "The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde. I'm not normally a poetry fan, but I have liked parts of some of Tennyson's poems as well.
I have had a cough these past two weeks, so I caved and bought cough medicine. Here they refer to what I've got as a "chesty cough," which let me tell you has been the source of many jokes among the members of our house. It tastes bad, but seems to be working though.
On Tuesday, I will have to submit my essay topic. I am leaning towards "the influence of sport during the Elizabethan age," (shocking that when given the opportunity to write about anything I want, I'd choose sports, just kidding) but I'll have to narrow it down once I can do research. We don't have access to the library until tomorrow, but we have the afternoon off, so I think I'll spend it being studious. I have already checked the online catalog and the results seem promising.
British life has been fun so far. I had a crepe the other day. Not very British, I know, but it was good. I also had a cheese and onion pasty (not pronounced the way it looks) and it was also good. Think crispier version of a hot pocket. (Once again, I don't think I'll be earning an appearance on Rachel Ray with these descriptions.) I went to two pubs with a group of friends (on two separate nights.) We were all pretty hungry after spending 5 hours walking around Hampton Court Palace, so we stopped in to get a bite to eat. I had a burger and fries, which was great and my friends had fish and chips. The second night was with a larger group and was also very fun.
I think it's safe to say that I'm all settled in here. Having nothing to do this weekend was fun, but I am really looking forward to class tomorrow and being able to start my essay. Come back soon for more updates!