At least in England, it quite literally is. Even in mid-January, every field, every lawn, every single patch of grass is a bright, vibrant green. And it’s fantastically beautiful. Just one of the many things…
I arrived on Thursday morning. Took the 7:30 flight Wednesday evening from BWI to London Heathrow. The plane ride in all lasted about 7 hours, and I sat next to a woman who reeked of perfume, but I still enjoyed the flight. British Airways knows how to make their passengers comfortable, and the meals they provided – curry chicken with beans and croissant with strawberry jam – were so adorably British. There were some other little hiccups in my travel, to be sure: for example, when I arrived at the airport along with Alyssa and Courtney, I discovered that I was required to fill out a “visitor form” upon entering the UK(a surprise to me!). But luckily I was able to fill it out in line at border control, and we were all admitted into the country! It’s such a strange and amazing feeling, getting past border control. I felt like I was on the VIP list for an exclusive club!
Driving into Oxford was such a thrilling experience as well. The fields were beautiful (though flooded from a week of rain), as were the buildings that we passed on the way. St. Michael’s Hall, my new, temporary home is gorgeous as well. Here is a picture of the room I share with Celine, my roommate, from the doorway:
And the view from our bedroom is so incredible:
Thursday evening was spent exploring the shops around my building, and getting acquainted with the all-important food marts such as Sainsbury’s, Poundland, and Tesco (which has American food!). I never knew Oxford was such a bustling city. The students haven’t even arrived yet, and the streets are teeming with pedestrians. The drivers must be very patient around here.
Yesterday was the day we visited Keble College, the college that my program, CMRS, is associated with. The buildings and grounds are beautiful. You can’t walk on the grass, and there is a man who literally rakes it to maintain that striped-grass look. I know, I saw him.
I noticed some gorgeous vegetation as well. Again, this is the middle of January, and there are flowers blooming within the gardens that line the Keble walls:
We visited the Keble dining hall as well. The hall itself was beautiful, and our group was allowed to sit at the “high table,” apparently a great honor. The food wasn’t that great though, by taste or variety, but after all, the English aren’t known for their great cooking. After we finished lunch we were acquainted with Keble Library, where I will be spending much of my time, and the headed over to Bodleian Library, comparable to the Library of Congress for the sheer size of their collection of books. We didn’t enter the library itself, but here is an image of the Radcliffe Camera:
We received our “Bod Cards,” which admit us into nearly every academic building in Oxford. Security is tight, and just to use a restroom I had to swipe my card twice.
Last night I went out with some people from my group to the pubs, and had my first-ever pub drink. I tried a pint of Lemon Grass and a half pint of Pimms, and I have to say I really love the Pimms. Next time I go out I am ordering Winter Pimms though: a hot combination of Pimms, apple juice, citrus, and cinnamon. Yum.
The weather has been good to us so far, and it has hardly rained at all. I expect this will change soon, though, and I’ll get to experience that classic England weather. Today wasn’t so eventful. We endured three hours of (helpful and interesting) lectures, and were shown around more practical aspects of the city (grocery stores, the post office, etc.). I am currently on the hunt for a rental guitar though. I went to Blackwell’s, the book/music store, with my friend Hannah, but they only sell instruments. However, we did have an amazing time exploring their vast interior. At the end of my trip, if I have any money left to my name, I will have to go back there. I seriously doubt it though.
My following posts won’t be quite so long as this, but I needed to catch up. Stay tuned – tomorrow, we visit Hampton Court Palace! Think: Tudors.