Saturday, June 25, 2011

first impressions

In a way, this is exactly what I expected.  The experience was at once both a confirmation and a debunking of the stereotypes.

Confirmed Stereotypes:
  • It is green.  There are rolling fields (see above) and statuesque trees and shady hills and it is deliciously cool and beautiful.  The breezes on hot days are indescribable
  • The buildings are OLD.  I was surprised that there are habited residences here with peeling paint and cracked wood paneling, but the fact is that most of the structures are just so incredibly old that some level of disrepair is expected.  Regarding the actual Oxford buildings, the bricks are so ancient that they have developed this particular yellowy-gray (or should I say, grey) hue.  When I stand among many of these buildings, I'm reminded of the desert, which is a very odd feeling indeed.  Perhaps this bit should have gone under "Debunked Stereotypes."
  • The accents are every bit as strange and wonderful as I imagined.  Sometimes, after I have been in town for a while, they start to sound normal.  In fact, after I left the airport, by the time I was on the bus, my heart had stopped skipping beats when I heard accents, which was far quicker than I imagined.  And then someone will come along and sound just like Michael Caine or have an extra dash of cockney mixed in and I will be unable to resist a smile.  I hope they don't think I'm making fun of them.  It just tickles me.
  • In other news, I noticed that it even sort of smells like how I (unconsciously) imagined England would.  I remember thinking this on the bus to Oxford.  It smells like dust and old perfume (like something an elegant elder queen might wear), broken every now and then by the freshness of a cool breeze.  So glad the weather is being like this.
Debunked Stereotypes
  • Everybody is not drunk or at pubs all the time.  Unlike the U.S., however, pubs do have some booze customers pretty early in the day.  (Or maybe I just don't have a great idea of what American taverns are like.)  For some reason, U.K. pubs card even if one does not intend to drink, and it is early in the day.  American pubs usually let all ages in for food until the late evening.
  • Police cars are green?  They have that PT-cruiser-ish shape but are white with neon green stripes.  Also, I only had a vague concept of this stereotype, but one of the ladies pointed out that these police cars do not make the "wee-woo" sound and instead make the exact same noise as the cars of the American fuzz.
It's odd to already be making conclusions about a city that I have been in for only three days (a very small portion of which I have actually been conscious), but I suppose, as was mentioned in lecture, that is a very American thing to do -> to make theses and conclude without sufficient knowledge.