13 months
Oct 5:
leaving home
Oct 11:
i can't believe Grace went to Hogwarts
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Broad Street
Oxford, U.K.; Oct 7, 2004

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 pounds sterling

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 said.

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 the students.
-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 gone forever.
-I’m sure many other things have changed, too, but in general, Oxford is a fairly timeless place, steeped in tradition and steeping tea…

Bridge of Sighs

-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 new.
-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).

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