Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Getting to Oxford

Getting to Oxford

My trip to Oxford started with leaving my house at around 4:10 on Sunday morning. I just stayed awake until then. I said goodby to my mom, and my dad drove me over to the airporter. We said goodbye and I was off. 

The first flight was at 8 - San Francisco to Toronto. I slept more than half the way there. I chilled at the Toronto airport for two or three hours. Then I went Toronto to London Heathrow for around seven hours. I watched movies for most of the flight. Tron was a petty mediocre movie. The Tourist was not that special either. I had two seats, a window and an aisle, all to myself, but I couldn't sleep. 

Before landing at London Heathrow, the sun rose over the British Isles:

When we were landing, I overheard the lady behind me asking about how to get to Oxford. I told her to take the X70 bus, since I knew. On the way off the plane, we decided to look for the bus together, and we got to talking. 

Her name was Jodie (Jodi?). She was a middle aged woman from Alberta, Canada. She's working on her Master's degree in, I think, library science. As part of that, she's doing a three week internship type thing at the Bodleian Library. After figuring out how to get to the bus station and get tickets, we sat next to each other on the bus. She wasn't super talkative, but we talked about random things. I learned that she is a teacher of some sort. We talked about England, Oxford, and Canada. She told me about wines they produce up in Canada (apparently there is a valley known for its white wine grapes up where she lives). She told me that the Queen Mum was especially fond of Canada. We said goodbye when I got off. I might see her in the Bodleian soon enough. 

Funny anecdote - I was standing next to Jodie and another Canadian in line at the UK border control. The Canadian guy asked me, "Hey, is that C_____?" I had to admit that I didn't know who that was. "C_____, like the former prime minister," he said. I had to tell him that I really didn't know my Canadian prime ministers. He realized that I wasn't Canadian, but Jodie saw the same guy and agreed that it definitely could be him. He didn't have any entourage, so it was hard to tell. After he moved around a bunch, they were pretty sure. We were really sure after we got through the border control and saw a guy waiting outside with a sign that said, "C_____." Jodie pointed it out to me. They guy holding the sign saw us looking and just smiled back. I offered several times to take their picture next to him, but they didn't want to go up and bother him. 

Arriving at Oxford

After the bus dropped me off on High Street, I found the Stanford House (65 High Street) pretty easily. One weird thing is that  the street address numbers seem to increase in the direction of traffic, so they increase in opposite directions on opposite sides of the street. A bit confusing at first. 

I got my room. I will post some pictures of it soon. It's on the fourth ("Third") floor, kind of tucked up in a corner. None of the walls are parallel, and the ceiling is sloped on three sides. It has a pretty good view of HIgh Street, though. 

The House really is almost as confusing as people made me believe. I have not yet gotten lost finding my room, which isn't too hard. Some of the other rooms, including the music room and library are almost impossible to find. I will have to spend some more time exploring this house, which, I have been told, used to be seven different apartments. That explains why hallways and rooms are not connected in any sort of a logical manner. 

After I got my stuff organized in my room, the first of us to arrive (I was the third, since my plane landed around 6:30 am) had our first little orientation meeting. Afterwards, my roommate, Victor Liu; Molly; and I went for a walk down High Street to get a bit of lunch. We found a nice Indian place. I wasn't very hungry. Then we went shopping. I got some soap and shampoo at Boot's, but then I think I forgot my bag with them in it when we bought groceries at Sainsbury's. 

I meant to take a shower when I got back, but I ended up passing out on my bed. I set my alarm for a 25 minute nap. When I turned off my alarm, I just fell back asleep for another hour. Thankfully, Victor woke me up half an hour into afternoon tea so that I wouldn't miss all of it. 

The rest of the day was a sort of frenzy of meeting people and going around Oxford. After tea, Cole, the Junior Dean, gave us a walking tour of some of the area around the Stanford House. Sometime soon I will just post pictures of Oxford instead of trying to describe how cool it looks. I will just say that there are tons of old, awesome-looking buildings everywhere. If you want to see where I live, you can just put 65 High Street into Google StreetView and take your own walking tour. 

We got back to the Stanford House. A bunch of us ate dinner here with some food that the program provided for us. I met a lot more people, and heard a bunch of stories about people traveling in Europe before coming here. 

I ended up completely forgetting that I had signed up for a Passover seder. For some reason, I thought that the first night of Passover was tonight instead of tomorrow night. In any case, I was so tired that I don't think I could have made the 30 minute walk to and from the Rabbi's house. Instead, I went to sleep a little after nine. 

And that brings me to the present. I woke up a little after 3 am and couldn't fall back asleep. After 4, I just gave up, came downstairs and started writing these last couple blog posts. 

Today there will be some more orientation stuff, and, at night, I will go to the Rabbi's house for the second seder, probably apologizing profusely for missing the first one. 

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