I’m beginning to take milk with my tea. I didn’t like it before, but I do now. The English is setting in already.

I still take sugar, though, so that makes me stand out. I’ve yet to run into someone from England who takes sugar with their tea.

When we were doing two-a-days in Greek, for two hours each class, we’d have a break for tea in the mornings. Someone would come into the room after an hour with a giant basket full of preparations for tea. Saucers and cups, tea bags and hot water, and sugar and spoons. And biscuits (cookies).

“Only in Oxford,” a girl in our class said to me, shaking her head with a smile. And she’s from a town only 30 minutes away.

I was the last to go through the line. And, as I got there, I noticed the sugar had yet to be uncovered.

“Leave it to the American to be the only one to take sugar,” I said aloud.

“Yeah, sorry we don’t have high fructose corn syrup for you,” a British classmate of mine joked.

My morning walk

I still quite enjoy my walk to class in the mornings. Not as much in the evenings, when it’s dark. But the mornings are nice. I still enjoy seeing everything.

Like this little bakery.

I’ve yet to go there to get anything, but I’d like to at some point. It looks so idyllic. Just passing by the window display on my way to class makes me happy.

And I love the entryway of this coffee house…

Apparently it’s the oldest coffeehouse in the world.

This place, Queen’s Lane Coffee House, across the street, apparently missed being the first by only a few years. Too bad, really.

Lunch at Harris Manchester

Apart from an hour of Greek in the morning, my Fridays are wide open, which gives me quite a bit of time to catch up on reading for my essays. And Greek, of course.

I decided to hunker down in the Harris Manchester Library today; it’s a bit brighter than the Radcliffe Camera.

After a few hours in the books, I made my way down to the Arlosh hall for lunch. That’s the name of the dining hall here at Harris Manchester. That’s where you can find Steve, the head chef. Full suit. Smiling. Asking to make sure everything’s okay. Steve’s great. And his (hand-painted) portrait is hanging on the wall as you walk in. Full suit. Smiling.

I hadn’t been to Harris Manchester for lunch all week. Not since meeting the Alternative Turk. It was nice to see some familiar faces again. And catch up with people I hadn’t seen since 0th week.

We had salmon for lunch. Baked inside of a dough crust. It was served with a light, cream colored sauce, and a side of peas and potatoes. It was quite tasty.

People don’t waste any time here at Oxford. 20 minutes into lunch and the entire dining hall is about cleared out. It’s kind of weird, actually. But people have a lot to do.

“Oh yeah…”

Every once in a while, I have these “oh yeah…” moments, where I realize I’m here in England. It sounds funny, I know. But it’s a bit like having a dream and then getting so used to it it’s only about halfway through you realize, “oh yeah…” I am in a dream right now. Sometimes you just don’t realize it at all.

They come at the weirdest moments, too. Like last night, at Lynde at Mem’s place. We were sitting in their living room talking. Mems was talking about what it’d be like to move to New Zealand, and all of a sudden it was like I woke up to the fact that she was speaking in a British accent. It’s weird. But the other time it’s just normal. It’s just the dream state and I’m fully engaged in it.

And it happened earlier today. I was walking out of the Little Turk after picking up something to snack on, and I was running through some Greek vocab in my head. I wasn’t too far down the road when it happened again, walking along the stone foot path, in front of these incredible, beautiful, old buildings, and I was just like, “oh yeah…” I’m in Oxford. This is real. It’s not a dream. I really am here.

Dinner at the Eagle & Child

I met Cole at the Eagle & Child for dinner after a full (eight hour) day in the library. It’s less than a 10 minute walk from Harris Manchester, which still blows my mind.

Cole told me that they recently put a new burger on their menu, and that it was the best burger he’s had in England since arriving.

“Sold,” i said.

We set our stuff down at a table in the back of the restaurant and made our way to the bar to place our orders. The woman at the bar asked me if I wanted a “regular” or “large” size burger.

“Large,” I said, without a pause. “If there’s a choice when it comes to burgers, always go with the large,” I said to Cole.

Cole asked what the difference was between a regular and large. It was an extra patty, apparently.

“Yep, that was the right choice,” I said.

We talked for a bit about our week. Cole was interested in how my first week had gone.

I asked him how he enjoyed his first year.

“Best year of my life,” he said confidently.

“Huh…” I thought to myself.

“But it does take some time to get comfortable with things. It seems like it’s not until the start of this year [his second] that I really am more comfortable with everything here.”

Cole mentioned the fact that, truly, most people are that way. And that they just think everyone else is doing great. And how that’s just simply not the case.

“Like Lesley Smith said during your introduction meetings,” he reminded me. “Everyone’s scared, they’re just putting on a face.”

Cole told me about something called the Impostor Syndrome. Apparently it’s when someone is unable to process the fact that they’ve achieved something special. That somehow there must have been a serious mistake along the way, and they have only achieved what they have due to some mistake or error.

It was an interesting idea. One I had never heard.

“Well, I definitely feel like an impostor most everywhere I am here,” I told him.

During my first week, I’d find myself passing by the gardener, the window cleaner, and thinking to myself. “I could do that. I could clean windows. What in the world am I doing trying to study here?”

Apparently Cole’s mom works at a university back home. She’s the one who introduced Cole to this term. She told him about so many of the students who are accepted into med school who, the entire time they’re there, believe they’re only there because someone messed up the application process, and that they had been accepted by accident. And that the school was too nice to tell them otherwise.

“Ryan, you have Matriculation in the morning [the University’s official induction ceremony],” cole said said to me, leaning over the table just slightly with wide-eyed excitement. He spoke in in firm sincerity.

“By this time tomorrow, you will be an official member of the University of Oxford, and you will be for the rest of your life. You will be just as much a member of the University as the professors.”

Yep. Something definitely didn’t seem right with that. Surely there was a mistake somewhere along the way.

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