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My Genuine British Homestay

Time November 16th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

This weekend I decided to go to Josh’s house. The last time I saw Josh someone ended up naked on a rugby pitch, but I decided that the risk was worth the reward. Josh is funny, and decidedly British, and he’s one of my best friends. We worked together for the past two summers at a children’s summer camp, and coincidentally he ended up next to me at Oxford-Brookes. The opportunity to see a real British household was too good to pass up.

Josh’s dad met us at the Cheltenham bus station, and from there it was a short drive to the house. It was a beautiful home—yellow, with a gate and a border collie—and the first thing Josh and I did was cook a proper English fry-up. I was in charge of the mushrooms, which were as golden as the sunrise, and Josh took the eggs, beans, and bacon. The toaster was in charge of the toast. When all was done, the eggs, beans, and bacon were inedible. Josh and I looked at some sheep out the window and pretended to be satisfied with mushrooms on toast.

On Sunday we went to his brother’s cross-country race in Bristol. Ben had recently won nationals for his age group, and this weekend he was competing for a 1000 pound prize. The large purse also attracted the UK’s top talent; at 20 years old, Ben was one of the youngest and most inexperienced runners there. Nevertheless, he put up a good showing, and although he didn’t win we were all proud of him and went out for ice cream afterwards. Actually, he just got on a train back to London and we went back to the house. There was no ice cream.

That evening, Josh’s mother prepared a traditional Sunday roast. It was unlike anything I had tasted before: think Thanksgiving feast, but every Sunday, and better. There was an entire roast chicken, expertly cooked and cut from the bone, as well as a vegetable medley—peas, carrots, and cauliflower—and both fried and roasted potatoes. We also had Yorkshire pudding, little flaky golden cakes that tasted like Pillsbury croissants. Josh covered his whole meal with runny stuffing, a mix of stuffing and gravy, and I followed suit. Although meals at Oxford are convenient—three courses served to us in a Harry Potter-like hall by suited waiters and waitresses—I’ll take Josh’s mum’s cooking any day.

After dinner, we “spoofed” to see who would clean up the dishes. “Spoof” is a game in which every participant gets three coins, and clandestinely puts one, two, three, or none of them under his or her hand on the table. Then everyone gets a chance to guess how many coins there are. If someone gets the number correct, he/she is out. This continues until only one person is left, and he/she is the loser. I, of course, was the loser, and had to do the dishes. We spoofed again to see who would make tea and cake, and I narrowly avoided losing again by beating Josh in the final round. This arrangement suited me, because I didn’t want to make tea, but also everyone else, because it was apparent that I had no idea how to make tea.

In the morning, Josh and I ate some Weetabix before getting back on the bus for Oxford. The bus was right on time, and I got two seats to myself. It was a comfortable ride, a fitting end to a comfortable weekend.

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