When I arrived in Oxford, it was raining. I made my way from the train station, with bags in hand and strapped to my body, guided by the map I bought with Sarah, until I reached Wadham College. With little difficulty, I found the Porter, who gave me the keys to my room in Library Court. My windows open onto a balcony that overlooks a courtyard, with the college library beneath it.
Within minutes of arriving in my room (before I was even unpacked), I met Kelly, the Alabaman student of ancient languages and medieval history who is living in the room beside mine. She means to stay in England permanently. I spoke with her for about half an hour, sharing tea in her room. She has helped me to become somewhat oriented, a process that was enlarged upon later when I made visits to the Domestic Bursar’s office and the Tutorial Office. Before doing so, however, I met another resident of the upper portion of the Library Court: Nora, who is from North Carolina. She and Kelly are studying Latin together for an hour each morning and afternoon.
After giving myself a bit of a tour of the college, I set off back into town: intent upon at least starting the process of opening a bank account. Unfortunately, NatWest won’t give a free youth rail card to international students opening accounts, as they will for domestic ones. I shall, in any event, have to wait until Monday for any banking stuff to move forward. I was able, nonetheless, to purchase some groceries to tide me over until the college begins serving dinners at start of term. Even then, it will be up to us to produce our own breakfasts and lunches. I have a very small fridge in my room and there is another down in the shared kitchen for the Library Court residents. We each have an en-suite washroom with a sink, as well as shared shower rooms on the floor below.
As I came back from shopping, I found my way down to the computer room and met Richard Leach, the IT Assistant. He set me up with a temporary keycard for the side gate of the college and the library. Since the Bodeleian cards for the other Wadham grad students are not yet working, I am probably the only graduate student at Wadham who has such access.
This evening, I had a lovely dinner with Nora and Kelly. We made pasta with sauce infused with fresh vegetables. Accompanying it was a bottle of Shiraz that I purchased at Sainsbury’s for Â£4.50. All told, both the preparation and the consumption of the meal were most enjoyable. Nora provided me with a somewhat detailed overview of British history from 54 A.D. until the time of Richard I, to be continued at a later date. The part that stuck in my mind is mostly about how a great deal of time was spent fighting one another, Scots, Danes, and such. After dinner, we retired to Kelly’s room again and combined the drinking of tea with what became a conversation (read, somewhat heated debate) about the importance of understanding the thought processes and reasoning of terrorists, whether we consider their actions justifiable and rational or not.
In short, I’ve been impressed by my first day in Oxford. The initial rain soon became a nicely diffused sunshine that complimented my initial wanderings. I’ve also had the excellent fortune of making the acquaintance of two neighbouring D.Phil students who are good conversationalists. Right at the end of this evening, we were joined by another member of the upper gallery of the Library Court: a 27 year old former Osgood law student with a focus on international humanitarian law. A bit odd to have two young women from the southern United States and two Canadians suddenly living together, but definitely not a bad arrangement. For the first time ever in residence, I am excited about my neighbours and glad to live in their company. I am glad I came early. I am glad I chose Oxford. Many anxieties have been neatly quashed today.
I was astonished a moment ago to see the time. Even with whatever effects jet lag should be producing, I still feel quite energetic. In the morning, we are going to meet for breakfast, along with the newest addition to our social and self-orientation group. In consideration of that, I should go to bed. Since all of the college bureaucracy will be closed for the weekend, I am supposing it will be best spent in meeting people and getting a start on my reading, by means of the key card that Richard so helpfully provided for me.