From Svearikes land Engel-land they wonde

After spending a month in the wilds of Sweden, arriving in Oxford is a lot like being thrown from the woods into one of the world’s greatest centers of scholarship.

Actually, that is exactly is. Sweden, after all, is out in the boonies. Even Stockholm All of a sudden there were cars and people and the sound of strange languages (French, Spanish, Chinese, you-name-it) all around me. There were streetlights and taxis and cathedrals and pubs and portraits of Cardinal Woolsey. It was overwhelming to say the least. But it was Oxford!

But let me start at the very beginning (a very good place to start). I slew out of Skavsta airport in Sweden the night of the 3rd of July to arrive very late in London Strandsted airport, which actually isn’t in London but rather about an hour away. I did my best to surpress my fake British accent that sometimes has a way of coming out when I talk to British people, but I unfornutely failed when I uttered a very snobbish ‘Thank you’ to the man who checked my passport. Apparently my fake brittish accent is extremely snobbish. I’ll have to work on that.

I had planned to sleep in the airport that night (to wait until the busses started again) and I thought it was going to be a nightmare. Au contraire! I found a quiet corner of Stansted airport were everyone was sleeping peacefully. So I joined in the resfullness by pulling out my handy sleeping bag and making myself a little nest on the floor. The rest of the night was surprisingly uneventful. I could have been dreaming, but I even thought I heard som people speaking Swedish next to me.

At 7 Am I rolled up the sleeping bag and hopped on the buss to Oxford. the ride I don’t really remember much of, again, I was asleep. When I finally reached the Oxford station, I was greated by my friend and hostess, Corinna (Oxford student and medvalist extraodinaire), who was waving two American flags upon my arrival. It was the 4th of July afterall! We walked back up to her place in the Balliol college manor, all the while waving the flags and signing the Star Spangeled Banner very proudly. Later, we even had a water-balloon toss with another American to celebrate. It was amazing.

After dropping my stuff in her room, Corinna led me a bit around the city. We a te a delicious lunch of lentils and goat cheese (I personally was just excited to eat something that wasn’t fish or potatoes or bread). Throughout all the day’s tours, I, still big-eyed at the sheer amount of civilization after nearly six months in Sweden, was still in a daze of brown stones, medeval streets, and dreaming spires. And of course, being me, I couldn’t help but think of Jude (from Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure) sitting on a hill, looking at the lights of Oxford from a distance, longing for all the privledge of the scholarly life and above all, to study Latin. Indeed, in Oxford, privledge, as well as history, seems to seep through the walls.

And then, at 7 PM, it was time for me to hit the road again, on the train to Coventry, the working-class city that is the home of Jaguar Motors, Lady Godiva (yes, she was real) and my physics buddy from Lund, Pardis. And so I was off, after only a few hours rest in Oxford, traveling again…

I plan to recount each of my visits to different towns in England in different posts. Up next: Coventry. Then Dorchester (aka Casterbridge) and my one-on-one time with Thomas Hardy’s heart (yes, that happened). Then it will be the wierdness of Bath, and then back to Oxford (where I am now). And then, in two days, London. Look out for those posts, I will try to update as much as I can.

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*Anyone who gets the reference in the title wins… well, you know what.

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