Sojourner’s Survey

My journey in country has begun. I landed on Thursday June 22nd, and have been adjusting and preparing since I set foot in the UK. Even though I have been here for four days, the program officially started today, Monday June 27th. Before setting foot in St. Anne’s, I observed and learned many useful lessons, and I would like to share them with you.

First of all, come early! I am so glad I arrived a few days early. I did not feel rushed to find my AirBnB. Sue, my AirBnb host, could not have been more welcoming. She really made Emma and I feel welcomed and at home. Her puppy, Muffy, was absolutely adorable and showered us with morning kisses and excitement. On our first day, Emma and I stayed awake until nightfall in order to completely adjust. We did everything in our power not to fall asleep, and we were adjusted to the 5 hour time difference in one day. Also, we had time to explore Oxford, Bath and Windsor, and feel confident about where we were going before our counterparts even arrived.

Explore. We did not sit idly in our AirBnB. Instead, we chose to dedicate a day to explore Oxford. Emma and I may have gone a little overboard by going to four museums, but it kept us moving and allowed us to get acquainted with our new home. My personal favorite museums were the Ashmolean and the Natural History Museum. The Ashmolean had some beautiful Islamic tiles on display that took my breath away, and the architecture of the Natural History Museum is worth the visit alone. The next day we explored Bath, and sat in the splendor of the Royal Crescent. Then the last day before we started the program, we visited Windsor and took a river cruise down the Thames which is a definite must see. By exploring so heavily the first few days, I curbed any jet lag and learned how to adapt to the weather conditions in the UK.

The last lesson I learned was the weather can be quite variable, so always be prepared. On our first day exploring Oxford that the weather is subject to change by the moment. Emma and I both wore dresses on the first day, and oh boy, it was windy. Think Marilyn Monroe in the “Seven Year Itch.” Dresses are not the preferred attire for exploring. Also, the wind is chilly so bring a light jacket or cardigan. A few days later when we moved into our dorms it was bright and sunny, and we were sweating in our long sleeves. Walking shoes are also an absolute must. On our first day we walked around 8 miles and have averaged around 6 miles everyday since. I would advise comfortable stylish shoes because nothing looks more American than white New Balances. Best piece of advice? Bring layers and good shoes.
Overall, Oxford has already started to teach me valuable lessons even before we started lectures. I will be writing at the end of this week about my experiences in my first lectures, and how I survived my first tutorial experience.

Muffy joined us for breakfast

Sitting on the lawn of the Royal Crescent

Side street in Windsor, featuring Tudor architecture

On the bridge over the Thames between Windsor and Eton