Walking Around

July 5, 2007

Our first night here we had a formal convocation dinner to celebrate the beginning of the semester. Leslie Mitchell, my Oxford tutor for Georgian and Victorian England, spoke. The man is hilarious. More about him and the class in a later post. He warned us not to hang out at McDonald’s, go out in huge groups, or wear our Oxford gear around town. These things make you an obvious tourist and make it hard to blend in and really learn about what life in Oxford is all about outside of the tourist experience.

Well even though I didn’t stay out or up late last night, it was just hard to get up this morning. My body is just exhausted! I think it is all the walking, though I don’t get that tired when I am actually walking around- it just catches up to you at the end of the day when you come back from walking 5 miles. Anyway, so this morning I tossed on my Oxford rugby and didn’t brush my hair. I still managed to get hit on (I think?) by an attractive British fellow in my favorite coffee shop. Too bad all I wanted was the caffeine and a comfy chair.

The young people here are incredible- not a single one could be confused for an American teenager. It seems like your average 17-year-old wears some combination of 80’s punk (blonde and black streaked hair, random facial piercings, black tights, red lipstick), high fashion (very skinny jeans, bright leather flats, loose bohemian shirts, huge bags) and just plain crazy (neon makeup and clothes, clashing colors). It’s crazy! I am sure that they are all nice people – everyone I have run into is very polite – but I just think about how your average American parent would react to their high schooler dressing like that. The little punky couples you see around are cute though.

One shop I really love here is called Top Shop. Kate Moss designs for them, and despite her issues with ugly men and cocaine, her clothes are great. The whole store is on sale and already ridiculously cheap (by UK standards). Of course, everything is double in US dollars. It is like a Forever 21, only much better. I like the clothes they sell here better than a lot of the clothes in US. I bought some fun jewelry there for about 5L.

The street is just filled with all sorts of interesting people. There are the native teenagers and the people who live here but are not native Brits. These are the Arabs and Africans who speak in beautiful Arab-English or Nigerian-English accents. It is quite lovely to hear. There are also the French and Polish, etc younger adults who have moved here and work in various shops.

Sarah, Christina, and I ran into a Polish guy at this great lunch place we found. A few blocks down High Street from the College there is an easy-to-miss entrance into something called the covered market. It’s this great indoor market hidden in the middle of the block behind all the stores and flats that face the street. Very cool. I’ll post some pictures soon, but on the inside it is sort of like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, only permanent. Just all these little bitty stores mooshed together just bursting at the seams with goods. Since there is no air conditioning here, there are big cut outs in the walls near the roof to let air through. There is this amazing sausage maker whom you can watch through the glass walls of his shop, and a wedding cake shop where the bakers decorate these crazy cakes in a window. There are flower shops, cheap accessory shops, and great little hidden restaurants and bakeries.

For lunch we stopped in a place called PieMinister (get it?). All they sell is small pies filled with various veggie and meat combinations. I had minty lamb and “Minty M’peas” for a side. YUM! Very savory and filling, and with a distinctly un-American flavor. Just what I want.

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4 Responses to “Walking Around”

  1. Adam said

    un-American anything! get as much of it as you can, i know i am.

    and see if you can spend some at the Eagle & Child pub (if it still exists, which i hope it does) somewhere in Oxford. It’s where the Inklings used to frequent!!!! keep up the posting!

  2. LG said

    I want to go there! Quaint shops, the hustle bustle , lots of people everywhere – buildings with old stories — the feel of England -yay!

  3. LG said

    “Too bad all I wanted was the caffeine and a comfy chair.” Ha – ha very funny Jamila!

  4. LG said

    And what about that Polish guy — wasn’t that a build -up to something?

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