This is an article I wrote a couple weeks ago for the study abroad column at Jewell.
Karen Rice made up a game, once upon a time. It’s a conversation game, and we play it a lot.
I’m sure you are all familiar with the difficulty of recapping a major life experience in everyday conversation. “So how was your summer in Peru?” “Uhhh….” It’s a shame, really. There are a million ups and downs to summers and semesters and junior years abroad, but with questions like that, they tend to all get lumped into a meaningless generalization like “good.” Even if your interrogator didn’t mean for you to give a one-word answer, sometimes a paragraph summary is just too difficult to compose on the spot. Obviously, this doesn’t make for very productive conversations.
Karen’s game spares us that fate. And it’s easy to play: you just ask, “What were two highlights and one lowlight of _____?” And in return, you get a pleasant amount of detail. It works quite well.
This, I believe, is an occasion for the game. If you ask me, “How’s Oxford?” I’ll be at a loss, and the most detail you’ll get is, “Good.” But one highlight– I can do that justice.
I imagined that Oxford would be the nerd center of the universe, and a pretentious one at that. That turns out to not be the case at all. The city is full of academics, it’s true, but they are the sort of academics who go out to the pub five nights in a row. Sometimes it seems like a contest to see who can do the most extracurricular activities and still keep up with their degree. Tutors go by their first names. I’ve yet to hear a single word about the proper formatting of an essay. In the entirety of Fresher’s Week (a rather alcohol-saturated version of orientation), not once did a faculty member sit everyone down and proceed to wax eloquent about what a fine institution this is and how privileged we are to be here and then exhort everyone to carry on the tradition with excellence.
Continue reading ‘Oxford ≠ Nerdville’