I've lived in Oxford before, during a year-long study abroad program while I was an undergrad. So I'm pretty familiar with the area (and there aren't too many cities about which I can say that.) But when I studied there before, I had the privilege of living in a beautiful brick house that was owned by my home university. I lived with old friends and a couple of new ones. It cost no more than the dorms back home. It had a fresh flowers and an oriental rug. It was a sweet, cushy deal. And I was very thankful for it.
But reality just has to smack you in the face, don't it? A year later, and here I am planning to go back to Oxford for another year, but there is no longer a nice, univerity-subsidised place to live. At the moment I haven'tyet found a place, but I'm looking into all the options. Because Oxford is being 'slow as molasses' - to use a southern cliche - about giving me information about things like this, my most promising option seems to be to turn up at the graduate office on move-in day with a sleeping bag and a juice box, like it's camp, and say "Here I am!"
I digress. Oxford University owns some properties that are rented out to students, but not many, and they go quickly. So my best option is to find an apartment on my own and/or finding housemates to share with. Apartment-hunting for a first-timer is daunting, especially when you can't very well visit your new city to look at apartments in person. Check the locks, and such. See if it gets afternoon sun. Hear the horror stories about how someone died in it.
But I have the internet on my side! And facebook and friends who live in Oxford who've given me a lot of good information. Cost of living being what it is in Oxford, I'm trying to find that perfect balance between price and location. Oxford has some dodgy areas, but of course those are where the most affordable flats are. (Oh yeah, side note: googling for "Oxford flats" will not turn up the information I have in mind.)
|Me with my housemates from last year at Oxford - all dear friends and lovely people.|
The other logistical thing I have to get squared away is my student visa. This one is a little easier than last time, actually. I'm familiar with the application requirements, and more importantly, I know how long it should take to go through the application process and to receive the visa in the mail after it's been processed. I can't start working on this, however, until I get a few more bits of information from Oxford, who, again, are dragging their wing-tipped feet. So, while checking my email compulsively doesn't do much for my social life, I'm excited that all of this is becoming real.
At the end of the day, I know everything is going to be okay. I'm praying through the things that are going to be logistically challenging, like apartment shopping from 3000 miles away. But most of all, I am thrilled, exstatic, appreciative, and excited beyond words that I am getting to go to Oxford to continue my education. All of this other stuff is just gravy, and God will sort out the things that I can't. He's gotten me this far, so surely I can trust that the rest will be just fine.