Sunday, May 2, 2010

Life with the Brits

I had never received any pictures of the place I was going to live in Oxford. I know, I know. Very stupid. But after spending several weeks hearing nothing back but Nigerian scam messages, I had been delighted to get an e-mail from someone on the Rhodes Scholar list (via Massey): a room in a student house with four other graduate students for only £240 a month! I figured, even if it was horrible, with the money I'd saved I could just go to a B&B intermittantly. I googled the place the night before I left to take a look around at the neighbourhood: it seemed quaint, cozy and very English. Everything here looks much more attractive than the buildings back home. (If you want to google it yourself, go to 13 Minster Road, Cowley, England and take a look at the street view.) I'll put pictures up anon, but I haven't taken the time to figure out my camera.

After hauling my luggage down the street, I was thrilled to discover I was not living in the tiny, decrepid bungalo down the road, but a reasonably sized place. I mean, it looks a bit like a student house. There's a TV on the porch and apparently a two-meter hole in the grass where they had a firepit that went wrong. But still it's no crack den. I was greeted at the door by Eoin (pronounced Owen) who was hungover from May Daying the night before. The tradition here, apparently, is that on the first of May the Magdalen College (pronounced Maudlin) choir will sing at 6:00 am from the roof of the college. So like a number of others, he'd been out under the premise that if he was still drinking by 6 he'd listen to it. He was. He did. I think he may have suffered for it.

Anyway, Eoin showed me the ropes, got me Internet, offered me a cup of tea. Afterward, I hit the grocery store and bought some blankets and things to get my bed organized. It's freezing in here! Note to self: get more blankets. And a pillow. My plan of stuffing clothes into a pillow case was reasonably unsuccessful.

In the evening Eoin took me to have curry at his friends' place down the road. Was lots of fun and good to meet some folk around here. I drank about a bottle of wine. I forgot what the drinking was like over here. Though, look ma, no hangover! Maybe it's the weather.

So that's where we are right now. I've got two days to get myself oriented so I can hit the library on Tuesday with a list of manuscripts and a sense of purpose. Wish me luck!