Learning About british universities in Oxford
My trip has been pretty awesome. While I have spent a lot of days in class for hours, I have also been lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel. Last week, I did a bit of traveling around England. I went to Oxford, Stratford, and London. Hopefully, I will be able to blog about all of my adventures eventually. For now, I’m going to start by talking about my experience in Oxford.
Here are a few of the highlights from my day trip to Oxford:
I’m obsessed with Starbucks, so I couldn’t wait to see an international Starbucks Cafe. Before coming to England, my friend hyped up British Starbucks and told me they have better food than the ones in the US. I didn’t personally get any food at this Starbucks, but it had a lot more options than the cafes I’m used to I’m America. Adam got a vegan bbq wrap made with jackfruit (something I have never seen at the US cafes), and there were a number of different pastries that looked really good. I got the same tea I always get (Emperor’s Cloud and Mist). The only difference was the packaging color on my tea bag. Instead of blue, it was green. Finding a Starbucks in another country helped me feel more at home.
We wondered around a lot in Oxford. Luckily, I stumbled upon an Alice in Wonderland themed shop. It was a small shop filled with Alice-inspired trinkets true to elements from the story. I knew I wanted to get something from there, but it took me about 20 minutes to figure it out. I decided to get a few postcards for my family members, a White Rabbit wine charm, and tea bag coaster that has an image of the Mad Hatter tea party scene. If I had more time in Oxford, I would have also bought the Lewis Carroll walking tour guide. That would have been really fun to do.
We walked around for a few hours in the morning, stopping into a number of shops. We spent some time in the Covered Market, which reminded me of a calmer Chelsea Market. After all that walking, we were hungry. I got my lunch from Paul, a French chain bakery/cafe. It was a cute little bakery with a few grab-and-go lunch options. I got a kale and goat cheese salad with pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds, orange segments, radishes, and whole grain mustard dressing. They also gave me a multigrain baguette on the side. One thing I find really interesting about England is the whole concept of eat-in versus take away. If you order your food for takeaway, it’s often less expensive than if you eat in the restaurant. Tipping isn’t customary, so the higher eat-in price accounts for service fees. I did take-away for this lunch (we went back to Starbucks to eat lol), which was only £4.65. I was thoroughly impressed by Paul! My salad was really fresh and tasty. The baguette was also really yummy. Paul reminded me slightly of a French Panera.
After lunch, my professor had set up a few things for my class to do at one of the Oxford colleges, Harris Manchester College. We had two seminars, A History of Oxford, Oxford University and Harris Manchester College: From 55 BC to 2016 and Interpersonal Communication in England. It was interesting to learn about the history of the town and the university and how that history has an effect on communication. It was nice to take a step out of our own classroom and be able to learn at Harris Manchester College. Can I know say I’ve been to Oxford University?
I think one of the coolest parts of my trip so far is that I got to have dinner at one of the Oxford colleges (how many people can say they’ve had dinner at Oxford University?). There are a world of differences between British and American universities. One of the biggest differences is the concept of a college-wide formal dinner. My class was lucky enough to be invited to and take part in the formal dinner. The students, faculty, and the college principal (kind of like the US version of a dean) all get together for a sit-down dinner, complete with wine. There’s a whole ritual during the formal dinner. The students walk in first and stand behind their chairs. The president and his table walk in last. He hits a gravel on the table, and everyone in the room is signaled to sit down. At the end of the meal when the principal is done eating, he hits his gravel once again and everyone stands. They have to remain standing until the principal has left the room. Then, everyone can finish eating. I have never experienced anything like that before in a college setting. I really consider myself lucky to have experienced it firsthand.
The food at Harris Manchester College was really really good too. When we first sat down there was bread and wine on the table, which was followed by a simple but delicious salad. The main entree for the meat eaters was a steak. For us veg-heads, they had a veggie filled risotto ball with a side of asparagus. The risotto ball was REALLY good and unexpected. When I think about college food I never think “gourmet risotto ball.” It was really surprising. Also, that asparagus was absolutely amazing. I usually don’t like asparagus because it can be stringy and bitter. This was neither at all. It was only slight bitter. It was crunchy and thick. I would love to know where they get their asparagus from and how they make it taste so good. They also gave a lemon custard for dessert, which I didn’t taste. I’m not a fan of lemon or custard. But, it looked really cute! Having dinner at Harris Manchester College was really fun.
Going to Oxford was a really cool educational cultural experience. I had no idea that universities in other countries could be so different from the US. Now, I’m interested in learning more about universities in countries outside of the US and UK. I wouldn’t say Oxford was my favorite place I’ve visited so far, but it was interesting. My experience at Oxford University was definitely the coolest educational cultural experience I’ve had though.
More to come about my other travel experiences.
Ta-ta for now, my Dolls!
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