Bright Young Things

The Alex of two years ago is ashamed.

Before I came here, I expected my time at Oxford to be marked by exploring medieval cobblestone streets, rowing on the Thames in the wee hours of the morning, listening to 12th century church bells ringing through the winter fog, meeting with long-bearded professors in offices crammed with moldy volumes, and, of course, ridiculously posh black tie parties.  Some of the things I expected to happen here have come to pass; others have not.  I would say, on balance, Oxford has not been quite as absurd as I had been told to expect – it is, after all, mostly, a modern functioning university.  Still, it has its moments.

Last night, we celebrated the twenty-something-ist (Grad students, it seems, are really sensitive about their age, because being in your mid-twenties makes you SO OLD) birthday of my housemate Nicola.  Among her many amazing qualities, Nicola is my go-to person for answering any question along the lines of ‘What do really, really English people do for X?’  She is adamant that Britain is not in Europe, can face any challenge so long as she has tea, and totally hates Gordon Brown.  Her birthday, naturally, did not disappoint: it was a black tie affair, with a jazz quartet, inside Merton College.

There’s something ironic about the fact that I went though four years of formals at Princeton and never once wore a tux – out of some sort of pseudo-rebellion – and now relish the chance to put on a dinner jacket, go to the poshest event I could ever conceive of, and bask in the Oxford student body’s collective upper-crust leanings.  When in Rome, right?

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