Monday, January 24, 2011

Adam B. - Oxford, England - Spring 2011

Initial Reactions
To begin, this might be a little more helpful to people coming to CMRS, but I’ll try to be general and feel free to ask questions, I’ll answer them as best I can. Upon first arriving in England, I think I covered the entire emotional spectrum within an hour. When we landed I was just glad to get off the plane after so long, and that I didn’t have to worry about a connecting flight as most of my fellow passengers did. Unfortunately, London Heathrow is a HUGE airport, and figuring out where to go after getting through customs is a little confusing, especially while you are hauling around all your stuff. (BTW, I won’t put anything here cause I’m sure how much open advice is legal to give, but if you have any questions about English customs just e-mail me. It really wasn’t that bad.) The walk to the central bus station was like a mile, not kidding, and while there may have been somewhere closer I could have gone, the signs were rather confusing. I was also extremely disorientated due to the six hour time difference plus the six hour flight. If you think jet lag won’t happen to you too bad and that you can handle it no problem, I’d recommend changing your attitude real fast. I felt the same way, so it was a bit of a shock to realize how much it was affecting me.
            The bus ride to Oxford was fine, I actually met my roommate on the bus, which was nice. The English countryside is pretty similar to ours, so you have to really look if to notice the differences. The biggest thing is the driving on the opposite side of the road. It really feels like you are going to crash when you first get going. It’s when you get to Oxford that you get excited. Right as you enter the city the buildings look ancient, with book and coffee shops lining the road. Towering in the distance is Oxford Castle, and all of our first thoughts was that we never wanted to leave. After unloading, I had to hall my stuff down narrow, poorly paved streets, not so fun anymore. Oh, and CMRS does NOT have an elevator, so whatever you bring, be prepared to hall it up stairs. At least 2 flights if you’re lucky, which I was not and got to carry my bags up 4. I was wiped by the time I got everything up here.
            My first thoughts about the building here were not nice. It has cheap furniture and looks like it was decorated in the ‘70s, with ugly carpeting and just not the best thing to look at. It is also above a store on a dead end street, making it not that impressive compared to the buildings you pass on the way here. Room sizes vary, and there is no standard set of furniture for each room, it’s rather random. Fortunately my room is good size, and somehow we have a mini fridge. No idea how someone got it up here. Every room also has a sink, but because they use a water softener here you cannot drink it, limiting its usefulness. Overall, I was not very impressed when I got here, and honestly a little disappointed.
            The first night is pretty rough. Most the students here admitted the next morning that they really didn’t sleep much. I actually got on my laptop in the middle of the night to talk to home. AIM will become one of your best friends while you’re here. A free, easy way to communicate with anyone with access to a computer. I know my roommate started doing the same thing shortly after me. A combination of jet-lag and homesickness makes for a very unpleasant night, and some extremely strange dreams.
            At present time of writing though, I love it here. Dilapidated and non-medieval as the building is, it has a way of growing on you. The people here are amazing. Right away we all bonded and are becoming good friends. There are even plans to celebrate a couple of birthdays this weekend. The workload here is much heavier and more independent than at Elmhurst, so be prepared for that. The only extra help you get from a professor is if you ask for it, and there is no reason not to. You are also going to be spending a lot of time in libraries, some newer, some older than the United States. It is amazing here, and honestly is something you need to see for yourself. If you are interested in keeping up with my travels here, I’m keeping a fairly updated (for the moment) blog here: so check it out if you’re interested. Also my e-mail is, so you can send any questions to me there, and I will do my best to answer them. If I can’t, I will attempt to find somebody who can. For those of you reading this for CPP 250, good luck with all your prep work. It may seem tedious, but it’s all the little details that catch you in the end, and having them out of the way is a big relief. This is an amazing opportunity, so prepare well so that you can enjoy your own adventure.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Adam,
It sounds like you had a great start to your term in England. I'm taking a year in London next year and was just curious about what the biggest cultural differences were to overcome and what was the best way you found to deal with those?

Best wishes,
Krystal R.

3:15 PM  
Blogger Adam Baldwin said...

Since Britain is so similar to the US, it's a lot of the little things that jump out at you, like different words, a noticeable accent, and driving on the wrong side of the road all really jump out at you. At least that was the hardest part for me. There really is no good way to just get over this unfortunately, but over time you do adapt, you just have to not let it upset you too much and just go with the flow. Using the British form of some words helps a lot, but unless you can do a perfect accent, I wouldn't recommend trying that. There are a lot of things here that are similar to the US, so it is the little things that will get you. Just stay calm when realization sets in, and know they are pretty easy to adapt to, it just takes a little getting used to.
Hope this helps,
Adam B.

4:25 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home