Mmmkay so I might have had a few glasses of port before writing this, so here’s to happy, rambly Lizzy! (literally when I was walking back to Catz my friend asked me about my trip to Barcelona, and I somehow started ranting about modern dance? I am not sure how that connection was made in my brain. Prepare for a fun blog post)
Tonight we finally went to the Oxford University Conservative Association’s Port & Policy event, a weekly meeting at which attendees are offered unlimited port as they listen to members debate a variety of political issues. This week, given the fact that UK elections just happened (Conservative David Cameron remains Prime Minister), the debates centered around what led to the results of the elections.
And yes, if you know me, you know that joining the Oxford University Conservative Association is one of the last things I could be expected to do, but this event seems so quintessentially Oxford that I had to give it a go (also, 5 pounds for unlimited port? Cheap student says yes please).
And in fact, it was really really interesting. It is basically a lot of very British and somewhat-to-very drunk students in a room shouting “SOUND” and “SHAME” (for support and dissent, respectively) as one very brave student stands up and speaks either in favor of or opposition to whatever proposal is being considered. I appreciated the few brave Labour Party supporters who stood up and said their piece, and I was impressed by the fact that lots of the conversation revolved around being able to debate and discuss issues (albeit without the clearest of mindsets) rather than setting one group as the clear right or wrong choice.
Video Sample Here: Port and Policy
Speaking of which (and the rambly Lizzy shows up, changing topic without any actual connection but simply because it is what her mind jumped to), I think I have learned almost as much about America as I have about Britain. Probably more, actually. Which is something I think Study Abroad people said, and I was like yeah yeah sure, just get me to England.
But actually, I have had the most amazing conversations with my American friends, who come from all over the country and bring very different perspectives from what I’m used to in my liberal West Coast bubble. For instance, once of my close friends here is from Kentucky (horse capital of the world), and man I never thought I’d learn so much about Kentucky, or moreover that learning so much about it would make me actually want to visit. Her entire lifestyle is so far from what I am used to, and yet in some ways we are so similar. We both decided to become vegetarian, we both ended up at high-achieving, high-pressure liberal arts schools, we both have a deep commitment to social issues, we are two of the most introverted members of our friend group here, as well as two of the most introspective. I feel so safe telling her things, because she listens without judging, and somehow we are able to connect despite our differences. I have been astounded again and again by how accepting my Kentuckian friend is of my radical views, despite how different her own are, and it has made me recognize many of the prejudices I hold.
You may recall, as I do, that in an earlier blog post I wrote that I was surprised by how liberal England is said to be, and how I found that to perhaps not be the case (at least in some of the areas I am, which, to be fair, are about as aristocratic as you can get). And I think I have learned a lot from this interaction with conservative views, both from back in the States and from England.
Speaking of things that continue to baffle me in England, have I mentioned toilets?
I do not know how this came to be the case, but I am pretty sure that there is some sort of taboo against any toilet manufacturer in the UK producing the same toilet twice. No joke: every. single. toilet. is. unique.
Like, I remember when I was little and I used to read that picture book, The Princess and the Potty, about the princess who has to try out every single potty until she finds the one that is just right. And I swear, England is that princess. Some toilets are round, some are square, some are oval, some are strange elliptical shapes. And the flushing mechanisms! Who knew you could invent so many different flushing mechanisms! Chains, handles, automatic censors, buttons on the toilet, buttons on the wall– every single type of button imaginable, mind you, of all shapes, sizes, colors. Some even have double buttons, depending how how much you would like the toilet to flush (although I’ve found these never seem to work particularly well).
They seem to have a thing for buttons, as a matter of fact. Because they apparently prefer to press buttons instead of actually opening doors.
This is another thing that continues to baffle me. Now, maybe this is just specifically at Oxford, maybe there is some completely sensible security reason, but they seem to have an opposition to, well, literally just pushing/pulling open doors. Many of the doors in the college cannot be opened by application of manual force. Instead, you have to walk up to the door, and push a button next to it. Then you have to stand there and wait for the door to open itself.
I don’t see how this makes it more difficult for anyone to break in, because literally all you do is push the button instead of pushing the door.
Maybe they figure any intruders will just give up because it takes so freaking long for the door to open.
Ahem. Well I think that is enough rambling for now. I have stayed up really late for a couple nights in a row, and I need to actually get some work done tomorrow. English Faculty Library, here I come!