The Great Affair

Overheard in Oxford

27 Jan 2010

The following is a compendium of partial conversations I have been collecting. To be sure, they are merely fragments and ... read more

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Stories

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HOW TO: Dine Like A Proper Oxford Student

For visitors to Oxford, catching a glimpse of a real live student in full academic dress can be one of the highlights of a trip. In fact, the chance photo ... read more

05 Jan 2010
 

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An English Produce Market Saved Me From Terrible Food

“Best cabbage I’ve ever tasted there.” I turned around. The man who had spoken had blanched hair and wore heavy blue overalls. “What, this?” I asked. “That’s a ... read more

21 Jun 2010
 

Insider Tips

Festivals & Events

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Remember, remember the fifth of November

Call it what you will – Bonfire Night, Guy Fawkes’ Day, 5-Nov – the fifth of November is undoubtedly one of the most raucous nights of the British year. The festival commemorates ... read more

09 Nov 2009
Books

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Need a book? We can probably help you.

The Oxford University Press. What else could you ask for? How about Blackwell’s, a four-story bookshop with over three miles of shelves? Or the Bodleian Library, with nearly every ... read more

09 Nov 2009
Music

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500 years and still singing

If you do nothing else in Oxford, be sure to hear a choral service in one of the college chapels. Magdalen, Christ Church, New College, and Queen’s Colleges have ... read more

09 Nov 2009
Dating

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You might find someone, you might not

“England’s is a post-Christian society,” explained one of my college administrators before term began. “You’ll have no trouble finding whatever you’re looking for as far as dating ... read more

09 Nov 2009
Music

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Looking for the underground? Yeah, it's right here

For big-name acts, head to London. But if you’re looking for young bands trying to make it, Oxford is Mecca. If you spend more than a few weeks here ... read more

09 Nov 2009
Getting Around

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That's it, one foot in front of the other

Oxford is best navigated on foot or cycle. You can walk easily from the train station (far west) to Magdalen College (far east) in 10 to 15 minutes. Oxford’s ... read more

09 Nov 2009
Food

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Britain's best food isn't actually British

OK, I know. Most people don’t come to the UK for the cuisine. But it’s not as bad as you’d think! Of course, there’s the obligatory ... read more

09 Nov 2009
Books

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The London of new fiction

London’s doll-baby, Oscar Wilde, had little good to say about "The Old Smoke." But things have changed considerably since his time. For a fresh look at the London of ... read more

09 Nov 2009
Politics

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Want to talk politics? Make sure you have a few hours to spare.

Drop the name of any recent Prime Minister – Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher – and you’re likely to get an earful. Or mention the phrase “Red Ken” in any ... read more

09 Nov 2009
Nightlife

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London's no Río, but...

Most pubs are required by law to close down at midnight or earlier, and good clubs (which stay open later) are hard to come by. Unless you get invited along ... read more

06 Jan 2010
Film

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Play instead

The film industry in the UK has a hard time keeping up with its U.S. and Continental counterparts. Think of “Love Actually,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and that awful early-1990s ... read more

06 Jan 2010
Packing

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Antidepressants, anyone?

The cliché suggestion would be to bring an umbrella. But, it doesn’t actually rain here as much as you’d think – little more than one in three days. Instead ... read more

06 Jan 2010
Culture Shock

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Not culture shock... culture creep

For many Americans living in the United Kingdom, culture shock is perhaps better described as “culture creep.” The absence of any (serious) language barrier makes the initial adjustments to British ... read more

06 Jan 2010
Must Do

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Get on the beaten path

The United Kingdom has several thousand miles of public right-of-way, thanks to some archaic land protection laws. Closed to vehicle traffic, they welcome hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders. Many of ... read more

07 Jan 2010
Etiquette

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Queue is king

“Hey mate. C’mon! There’s a queue here!” shouted the man standing next to me. It was just after midnight, and our train from London had arrived in 35-degree ... read more

07 Jan 2010
Slang

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The Wight way to rabbit

Confused? Try brushing up on your Cockney rhyming slang. A linguistic anomaly in England, rhyming slang supposedly developed as an idiom of resistance in the rougher parts of East London ... read more

07 Jan 2010
Sports

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Not just football

Football may be England’s most popular sport, but that shouldn’t keep you from checking out this country’s other fine displays of athletic prowess. To see real, die-hard ... read more

16 Mar 2010
Health

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The National Health Service

This winter I was able to take advantage of the UK’s National Health System first-hand, thanks to some bad oysters I had in Paris. (The corollary Insider Tip here ... read more

16 Mar 2010
Fashion

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Wrap up!

I thought I was into scarves before I moved to the UK. I was wrong. People here don’t just wear scarves; they wear scarves for their scarves. But in ... read more

16 Mar 2010
Religion

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God save the Queen

I’ve been attending Sunday morning services at the chapel at Magdalen College, where C.S. Lewis was a Fellow. Most of the colleges in Oxford and Cambridge have really ... read more

16 Mar 2010
TV

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Get your TV for nothing, your kicks for free

British law requires all privately owned televisions to be licensed. It’s pricey – £145.50 after 1 April of this year. The revenues go to support the BBC (notice how ... read more

16 Mar 2010
Contest

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The London Monopoly Challenge and the Circle Line challenge

One of London’s most popular weekend activities for the competitive at heart is the London Monopoly Challenge. You have twelve hours. Get a group of friends, a Monopoly board ... read more

16 Mar 2010
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