Originally posted October 4, 2011.
I’m completely overwhelmed right now. I just arrived at my room in Oxford. I’m exhausted from carrying my bag all the way to the Graduate Centre. I’m worried about getting Internet and finding out where things are, especially the laundry. It’s also blazing hot here right now which is crazy. I thought I left the sun and the humidity in Texas, but it turns out I brought it with me.
This weekend was crazy and relaxing. It started with a stressful Tube ride from Virginia’s apartment to the Bayswater area. I had to lug my suitcase up and down the stairs in three different stations and when I got to the right street, I made a couple wrong turns before finding the hotel. And then of course they couldn’t find my name so it took me another hour to get my room. Thankfully all that was well worth the effort once we set off for the Arcadia office. I met the two other students going to Hertford College, Stephen and Daley, and they fed us pizza. I appreciated Dominos at that moment more than I ever had before. After just a short orientation, they sent us off for the night. It was pretty lazy since all the other students were jet-lagged. The next day’s orientation was about just as useful, except for when we went to meet with the representatives from our actual colleges at Oxford. I loved finally getting to meet Josephine, the tutor for visiting students. She welcomed us to the program. After visiting Oxford on the tour on Tuesday and speaking with her about where we’d be living and what we’d be studying, I couldn’t wait to get to the college.
Unfortunately, Arcadia kept us in London for the rest of that weekend. Plus they didn’t have any planned activities for us. They set us up in a London hotel, gave us some maps and tube tickets, and said, “Have fun!” But it worked out better than I expected. I got to go with a new friend, Emmamarie, to the National Portrait Gallery and finally explore the contemporary portraits on the ground floor. I even got to attend Sunday morning Matins at Westminster Abbey. The best part: I got to sit in the poet’s corner. I also spent lots of time walking around Hype Park and Kensington Gardens in the lovely weather. They had the best people watching there. And we also got to watch lots of ducks and swans in one of the ponds. And I finally got to go out to a couple of British pubs.
But nothing compared with today, the day that we would finally arrive at Oxford. My stomach was in knots when I woke up. The journey here could have been uneventful, except Stephen and I missed the train when we tried to switch cars. Everyone else zoomed on to Oxford while we pushed our luggage to the other end of Paddington Station and waited for the next train. In the end it wasn’t a big deal and we only arrived thirty minutes after the rest of the group. And then we were in Oxford. I watched all the students walking on the streets or sitting around the buildings as we drove in to the center of the city to Hertford. I couldn’t believe that I was finally here. Not just as a tourist, but as an actual student. It’s what I’ve been dreaming about since last winter.
Getting to my actual room in the Graduate Centre took more effort than I expected. I had to drag my suitcase across half the city. It’s ripping at the bottom and I’m worried that I might have to buy a new one for the ride back home. Oh well, that’s a problem I don’t have to worry about for the next two months or so. And then after lugging my bags up one more flight of a spiraling staircase, I finally arrived. It’s actually bigger than my room at Martel. And it’s a single with its own bathroom. I’m so glad I don’t have to share bathrooms now after two years of a private bathroom at Martel (or I guess here they are water closets or the loo). I have a really nice corner desk, a set of drawers, a wall shelving unit, and a wardrobe in the corner. I have to admit I thought of Narnia when I saw the wardrobe. C.S. Lewis’s office is only up the street in Christchurch College after all!
One of the best parts is the view from my window. I can see boats and people running on the path that runs along it. I can’t wait to go jogging on that path later. In that respect, the warm weather is great. It will make my initial exploring more fun. I can’t believe it; I might have to go buy a pair of shorts. This city is much smaller than London, but I feel like there is so much waiting for me on every street. There are lots and lots of libraries and I saw at least three or four shops I want to visit as we walked down to our rooms. Now all I have to do is unpack and then I can go explore! Maybe then I’ll finally catch my breath and believe that this is real, that I’m finally here.