Thursday, 14 January 2010

Culture Crush and Recuperation

Last night I attended a welcome dinner held at St. Hugh's College of Oxford University. Bashfully reeling about in my brown boots and new jeans, I barrelled through champagne starters, mercifully with Angela to keep me company. A good thing too, because a few of the male Korean teachers studying at St. Clare's until the end of this month popped up and began a toothy interrogation.

Angela and I will now be present in two Korean English teachers' study-abroad photo albums. Laughable.

At dinner, I was further forced to "mingle" and found my seat between a soft-spoken Korean woman (we commiserated on the awkwardness of such dinners) and a woman from Spain who does not like meat. A Canadian sat across from me, next to another Korean fellow who asked me if I watched/knew the show 90210. Only he got the numbers mixed up. I told him I didn't watch much tv, my house being filled with books, and my dinner companions expressed their belief that I am a rarity.

For my part, I managed the three courses with tolerable grace (though I still cannot make out what some of the "winter vegetables" were). I've decided that white wine is decent - I drank a few sips out of politeness and inwardly rejoiced that I didn't shatter the glass in my distraction. Twenty-six countries represented in one large hall, and a girl from Pawtucket amidst it all.

Understandably, I took this afternoon after classes to recover. Bones in bed, poorly-made grilled cheese (made with Edam cheese and barely grilled for fear of setting off the sensitive fire alarm), broccolli and stilton soup, and Roy. Social skills at last RESTED.

I've also lately made a snowman in Bardwell's garden (Daina, who had never seen snow before these past few days, helped) and visited Keble College with my Gothic Fiction class to view gothic arctitecture. Through it all: my trusty rainboats navigated me through slush and puddles. As my gothic fiction professor said, grinning, "Ah, the confidence of a wellie-wearer!"

Confidence. I think I'm gaining some British confidence. This weekend will bring London and more adventures! More accents and culture clashes!

Bring it on.

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