Oreos, the travel comfort food!
When I last posted, I was about to start my spring break. Now, having been traveling for a few weeks, I am in a unique position. I had only spent eight weeks in England–hardly enough time to make a home for myself. But still, as I have been going around seeing all new places, I find that in addition to missing California, I often think about my room in Oxford, the new friends I had made, and all the small habits I had gotten used to there.
After visiting a friend from college in Prague, where she is studying at the film school, I realized how convenient it has been to study in a place where I speak the country’s language. In my first few posts, I remember talking about what a vast change England was from the US. Now, after visiting the Czech Republic, I feel I was coddled! For example, I was overwhelmed at first going into the supermarkets in Oxford and not recognizing any of the brands or many of the product names. Wow, well it’s a lot harder when all of those unfamiliar brands and foods are in Czech! I have so much respect for my friend Hannah, who is currently learning the Czech language as she studies film. I will say one thing–in Prague, it is at least comforting that the cars drive on the same side of the road as in the US (not the case in the UK!).
I am grateful that I had the opportunity to visit Prague (especially around Easter when there were all sorts of adorable Easter markets popping up all around!) because it was wonderful to get a quick feel for such a different language and culture than I am used to in England. But it also got me missing the familiarity of Oxford. Walking along the river in Prague, I was reminded of my daily walk past the river Thames and through Christ Church meadows to get to Oxford’s city center, and to my college and the famous Bodleian library (I even–shockingly–started to miss my long hours studying at the old wooden desks in the Radcliffe Camera, part of the Bodleian library).
Luckily, after my travels, I will be returning to Oxford a week before my tutorials start again, so I will have time to get back into the swing of things and enjoy the city for a bit. I’m looking forward to walking along the narrow streets again, perhaps exploring the Ashmolean museum a bit more (an incredible and huge museum in Oxford–with free entry, of course!), maybe going out to a movie or two when my friends return. Again, it’s surprising how much these little things that I miss make Oxford feel like a now-distant home to me. Though I had mentioned before that the city itself, with its formidable architecture, can be intimidating, maybe that was mostly because I was so stressed about my tutorials. True to my goal, I tried to chill out a bit during the last few weeks of term. My experience in Oxford greatly improved, and when I received my reports, I was more than satisfied! Overall, I came to look at the place more fondly. Needless to say, I am looking forward to another term in the next few weeks! That being said, I am still enjoying a break from academic work and the adventure of traveling. I’ll share a bit more about traveling soon (including the incredible adventure I had with IFSA-Butler during our adventure weekend in the Lake District of England)!
(Oh, and to explain the reason behind the name for this post: when I first arrived in Oxford, desperate for familiarity, I finally found a pack of Oreos in Tesco, the local grocery store. The sweet little cookies were such a comfort to me, and I have to say I probably ate more than I should have. Ultimately, I ended up associating Oreos with Oxford as well as with the US…so now whenever I see Oreos–and they are everywhere, even in Morocco!–I am instantly comforted by the familiarity of both of my homes, old and new. So, Oreos really are the travel comfort food for me!)
I’ll leave you with a few photos I took of Oxford just before leaving for break: the photos show the Radcliffe Camera, the University Church, Hertford College’s famous Bridge of Sighs, and the archway above Hertford College!