Originally posted January 12, 2012.
I thought I was finished with blog posts for this week, but as it turns out, I’m not. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to think about ordering textbooks, or the resume/cover letters I should also be revising/composing at this moment in time. Or maybe it’s because now that I’ve given myself permission to write short posts I can potentially write this before dinner. And finally, I might be feeling particularly introspective today because I know that all my friends at Oxford are going back today (well, went back) and it throws my experience here into greater comparison to what I would be doing over there.
In many ways, I’m glad to be back at Rice. But when people ask me how I’m feeling I don’t really know how to respond. I love visiting with all my friends, but at the same time, things have changed. Some things have changed for the better. Because I walked so much in Oxford I now think walking from Martel to West Lot is a piece of cake. If anyone complains about that to me, I will ask you to repeat my route from the Graduate Apartments to Hertford—or even better, to St. Hilda’s College and then to the English Faculty Library. Loving to walk is making living off-campus much easier. I also love how sunny it is here in Houston. I claimed that having that sun set at 3 pm in the UK didn’t bother me, but that was sort of a lie. I love pretty weather and I must say, even if I have to look at the sunshine through a library window, I’m still happier.
On the other hand, some things are very weird. I spent so much time with the freshers at Hertford, and yet I know none of the freshman class here. I walk around as a stranger to one fourth of the school. Also, I hate buying textbooks now. I loved just going to the library and checking out the book I needed for a week. Because I just needed it for a week and there were bound to be enough copies for everyone. Plus, I forgot about the sticker shock when your English classes assign 15 or so texts for a course … I also loved just taking English courses. I’m sure the computer science course on databases and Excel will help me, but we’ve only met twice and I’m already dead-bored with everything.
And finally, even though I’m coming back to campus, it’s not the same because I’m not the same. I find myself watching everyone, like I’m observing the whole place like a new culture. It’s still familiar, but if I think about it, I can see how so much of what we do here is unique to Rice or at least more unique to America. While it may get annoying at times, I think this is one extra benefit of study abroad. Not only did I get to discover a new country, but I also get to rediscover my own. I promise I won’t be keeping a running comparison going between my fall semester and my spring one, but I’m still going to keep aware of the differences. To me, as a writer and an observer of life, this new perspective is such a gift.