I honestly would not give quarantining for 14 days a 10/10 for a fun study abroad experience (who would??), but it obviously is incredibly important and I am lucky that I made it through without any symptoms of COVID-19. Fun fact, though—it felt like I was in actual limbo, as I could see many British people from my window and consume British foods and media, but I still felt like I only knew what the U.S is like. That sort of feeling meant that when I left my quarantine room (not soon enough!), I felt like I had just arrived in Heathrow for the second time. Some might call that delayed gratification; I call it my fall 2020 study abroad experience.
In three days, I have learned quite a bit about myself and my new home. For one, seeing the Radcliffe Camera and the Bridge of Sighs was just as interesting and new as going into Sainsbury’s (a grocery store) and Boots (a pharmacy). I got fish and chips from a pub to-go (or as many British people might say, I got “takeaway”) and was still surprised to see french fries in the container, even though I study linguistics and love dialects. I gave myself two hours to explore the city and I ended up walking around for three and a half hours, lost, until I eventually stumbled upon Hertford’s main site. I learned that it is really easy to spend money here, especially because the price in British pounds is way cheaper than the price I actually pay in U.S dollars. After having a man stop in the sidewalk and gesture to the left, I realized that walking on the right side of the sidewalk can instantly mark me as being from the U.S. Similarly, I learned that I can jaywalk when I am lost and confused, but that I should be very careful when I look the wrong way for incoming traffic with fogged-up glasses due to walking miles with a mask on. Ultimately, I might have been expecting to be impressed with only the architecture and the accents (and I did freak out when I saw Christ Church Cathedral because of Harry Potter), but the little things like pounds, chips, having to sign a receipt, traffic, and grocery shopping are really cool, too.
I look forward to starting my tutorials, finally finding a direct route to Hertford’s main site, exploring Christ Church Meadows, entering into the enclosed campus to impress the tourists, making more friends, and getting lost even more (as long as I can find my way back to my accommodation). Eventually, I would like to go to London, Scotland, and Stonehenge if I ever have time on my hands (ironic, right?). I am really loving Oxford and living on my own and learning here, and I hope it all continues to be this exciting to and rewarding for me.
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