Although a bit later than everyone else, I am finally settled at Oxford. It is “2nd week” out of the very quick and short 8 weeks that constitute Michelmas term. I am living in Pembroke College, which is my “home” for the year. There are 32 separate colleges at Oxford, and they all admit their students directly. At Pembroke, there are only 110 “freshers” as they are called, and they were selected after an intense application and interview process, which puts the stressful American college process to shame. In Pembroke, we sleep, eat our meals, use the library, have administrative resources, and meet with faculty. In the University of Oxford at large we use the vast library system (there are over one hundred!), attend lectures, join sports teams, and sit for exams. I can only compare it to a combination of a Greek-life/Hogwarts house system
Pembroke is only about three hundred people, and one of the smallest schools I have ever attended. However, as a visiting student, it has been wonderful. In the first few weeks I have met and gotten to know almost everyone. Also, as I live in the college and eat Formal Hall three times a week with everyone (dinner where we get served three courses and have to wearing a black cape called an academic gown), I have felt completely immersed and like an Oxford student from day one. Most people barely know that I am a visiting student (except for my American accent). So far, I have joined the Law Society, the Oxford Union Debate Society, and Mixed Lacrosse, all of which have been a great opportunity to meet students from other colleges as well.
Regarding this immersion, I have found myself starting to speak in a British manner, with my wide Midwestern “a’s” becoming longer. Although technically English is still spoken here, I sometimes cannot understand what someone is saying, especially in large lecture halls or while whispering. However, I am slowly becoming better and learning new words, such as “revising” means “studying,” “pitch” means “field,” and “chunder” means “to throw up.” If anything, I remember to say these words when I see a blank look on the person’s face I am talking to.
Overall, I feel quite at home in England so far and truly enjoy the people, the schooling, the silly words, and the humor. In my next blog I will describe the election, the difference between schooling here and the US, and some of my cool trips!