Saturday, July 14, 2012

Countdown to Oxford: Misconceptions

One more week stateside, so I thought I'd collect the best, or rather the worst misconceptions about Oxford, England, and Europe in general I've heard over the last few months.
Now, I have plenty of really intelligent culturally aware friends, but sometimes they say things that are ridiculous or not properly thought through. They sometimes realize it shortly after they've said it. A few of these comments were made in earnest, by some less culturally aware friends and acquaintances, which does make me question American education.

"Will you have the internet in England?"

"It's not like England's in Europe."

"You're going to be so close to everything, you'll have to take a day to go to the Swiss Alps."

"Oxford, London, what's the difference?"

"I've been telling everyone about your trip to London."

"You do know that everyone in England hates Americans, right? It's a good thing you're not going to France, they really hate us all."

"You'll have to go to Paris on the weekends, it'll be like, an hour away."

"It'll be all chicks at Oxford, right? I mean it's a girls school."

"Are you going to go to the palace? Can you have tea with the Queen there?"

I'm always afraid of sounding snotty when I correct people. I've given up on trying to persuade everyone that I'm not spending a month in London as they all seem to think. It's true that on the whole, the countries in Europe are much smaller than the US. England is only about the size of my home state, Pennsylvania. It still takes eight or nine hours to get from one corner of the state to the other, so I don't know why history and geography classes haven't given us a more clear understanding of spacial relationship between the countries.
As I've said before, I consider all the people who made these statements to be sufficiently intelligent, so I blame it on the weird US-centric bubble around our education that leads to these "ugly American" misconceptions.


  1. Hi! Sorry I haven't commented for along time though I read your every post. I don't have any great advice to give you, either, I just came here to say I'm really excited that you've been given this opportunity to travel to Oxford. :).

    I trust you'll have a great time and I look forward to reading about your experiences.

    Take care!

  2. Face, meet palm.

    First time I went to the UK, the people I stayed with had a brief visit from an American. He was very enthusiastic and said that he had three days left before going home, so he was going to interrail all over Europe in that time. My hosts and I exchanged looks and basically said "yeah, good luck with that". It's possible, maybe, but you're going to have to only get off the train for long enough to catch the next one! Geography fail.

  3. It's so nice to hear from you Neci! You know I always appreciate your support and I'm glad you're out there reading!

    I totally agree Traxy. America is such a large country, European countries seem quite small. But they're not that small.