the low down
(a quick summary)
What we did: We hung
around with our friends in Oxford for about a week (unlike most
of our other destinations, we were mainly here to relax and visit).
Food: Yep, the rumors are
(still) true, the British aren’t very good at making food.
To be fair, however, there is an increased health consciousness
in England (compared to 10 years ago) and it is possible to eat
more healthily (and buy more organic foods) than it used to be.
Can you tell that we’re Californians?
Cost of living: Basically,
it’s about the same as America, perhaps a bit pricier.
Exchange rate: US$1 = .523
Weather: Except for a few
rainy days, we were extremely lucky; it was fairly sunny, though
a tad cold.
Friendliness: The people
are fairly friendly, but the large number of tourists tends to
try the locals’ patience. The more you get away from the
touristy locations, the nicer the people are. It’s worth
noting that we were there when all the new students arrived, which
can only further annoy the locals since the first years don’t
know where they’re going either.
Getting around: The university
part of Oxford is relatively small; once you get into that vicinity
you can basically walk. There are slew of outlying neighborhoods
and adjoining towns, however, and getting to them requires a bus,
the negotiation of which can be a bit confusing (different bus
companies, each with an abundance of routes and varying schedules).
Things are further complicated by the fact that while the drivers
speak English, they often speak so quickly or with such a thick
accent that it’s difficult to figure out what they’ve
Random changes in the last 10 years:
-The bikes seem to be a lot newer nowadays. They used to be all
old, black, single- or 3-gear beaters. Now you see a much higher
percentage of fancy mountain bikes running about. Perhaps they
match better with the iPod headphones that seem so prevalent among
-Alas, Wing’s Fish & Chips is no more. During grad school,
this was my favorite chippy. Ironically, it was owned and operated
by a first generation immigrant Chinese family. Many a rain-drenched
bike ride did I brave to this fine establishment, and now it is
-I’m sure many other things have changed, too, but in general,
Oxford is a fairly timeless place, steeped in tradition and steeping
-The architecture in Oxford really is amazing. Everywhere you
turn there is a beautiful building with a long and complicated
history. In America, when we say “old building,” we
might be referring to something that is a couple hundred years
old (at the outside). In Oxford, that’s practically brand-spanking
-To be honest, I’m not a big let’s-go-see-churches
person, but the sheer number of Oxford chapels (many colleges
have their own) makes it almost impossible to escape them. And
yes, they really are quite beautiful, I must admit.
-The cars are small – a Mini really doesn’t look all
that mini here.
Major difficulties: None
Random translation: ”Cor
blimey, guvner” – Wow, or Oh my goodness. The exact
translation, including a backwards historical etymological slide,
would be “God blind me, governor.” Governor is just
a term that means something like “man,” or “buddy,”
or even “dude.”
Time to sign off; I'm cream-crackered (Cockney
rhyming slang for “knackered,” meaning tired).