I'm here. I'm in England. I'm in ENGLAND. In Oxford, in my room, to be precise.
And I'm severely behind on updating my attentive readership of my activities.
But I'm actually in England. After a year and a half of waiting.
And let me tell you, IT IS FREAKING AMAZING.
The flight over, however, was awful. For, like, a week I looked like a cripple walking around with my shoulders up to my ears because of the massive travel knots in my muscles. I'm just not a good sleeper on anything but a bed, so a red-eye is not my cup of tea (ahahaha, some British humor for you there. Yes? No?). I did try to keep myself amused with a few in-flight activities, such as: eating, watching Sherlock Holmes, grinding my teeth during thirty minutes of turbulence, chair gymnastics. Trying to find a comfortable sitting position in a 3"x5" space (such as, say, an airline seat) can be stimulating if you try to pretend it's an athletic exercise.
Nevertheless, we managed to get into Heathrow without any major incidents. I flew over in a group flight of about 40+ students, and I've managed to meet some incredible folks in my program. However, I haven't asked them if I can talk about them on my blog yet (since, honestly, I'm still a little bashful about even having a blog), so their names and awesomeness must wait for another post.
My program was nice enough to arrange a 5-day orientation in London, which was a really good idea. I've never gotten to see so much of a city as I've seen in those few days. From Trafalgar Square (my favorite!) to the Tate Modern, the group of us traversed back and forth around the city center. I took some great photos, which will be up on my Flickr soon, if I can figure the thing out. Advice??
Being five hours ahead hasn't changed the fact that I can hardly work a light switch, much less a complicated technological algorithm like a blog website.
Or a washing machine. But that is for another post.
At any rate, I've thus been here two weeks or so, and it feels like it's home. (Before someone like, say, my mother voices outrage at that statement, let me say that I do miss home, but I am luckily not homesick.) Oxford is continually amazing. It's actually a joy to get lost, because you find parts of the city that feel just like they must have hundreds of years ago.
I think what's most interesting is the clash of eras all around you. ATMs on a street that still looks like it belongs in the 17th century. Britain's oldest coffee shop on the same road as a modern restaurant called Quod. Students wearing matriculation robes patterned after the original Oxford scholars over modern and trendy skirts and slacks. It's so funny, so endearing. Oxford is a collision of times, and I marvel at how the city manages to function with one foot firmly planted in its past, and the other pacing forward to meet the needs of the future with premier scholarship and innovation. I wish I could describe it in more concrete terms. Hopefully my future posts will show what I mean.
It's also been the little things that have made my transition so smooth. My room and accommodations are blessedly blissful. My bedroom simultaneously overlooks the River Thames and the English countryside, and I have the nicest housekeeper named Janet who keeps everything tidy. I feel like my room is a lovely space for rest and quiet. In the mornings, I take the paths through Christ Church Meadows (Harry Potter fans, this is the college at which the movies were filmed) to go up to college. I live in graduate student housing about a ten-minute walk from Hertford's main campus, but I don't mind. My walk includes some lovely fields, the river, a group of meandering cows and even some deer, and it's beautiful now that the leaves are changing (and let me tell you, those cows are some snarky steer. It is definitely their field, and not mine).
It's a nice way to remain contemplative as the days get hectic with work, and this is especially true walking back through the Meadows as the sun is setting over the river. I feel as though God has really blessed me in this trip; so much of this experience I don't deserve, and I realize how precious it is. So many people should experience what I'm experiencing. It changes your whole perspective. What is that e.e. cummings poem? "I thank you God for most this amazing day." I understand now what he meant.
More later, for sure!