When Z and I buy house-related things we call it nesting and much of the 26th involved nesting. Boswells, a sort of catch-all department store, very much in the mold of the old Canadian Army and Navy store, is the go-to place for new students and they have decent stuff, not just cheap tat. For all that, it wasn’t as crowded as you would expect.
There was also the orientation for The Test at 4:00pm
My abdominal butterflies, heavily medicated with Gravol, are packing the last of their belongings and have placed all the liquids in those transparent bags for security. All the diligent office workers upstairs have set ‘out-of-office’ messages on their phones and e-mail. The stylish European designers who continue to renovate the old ‘Language’ floor into a strange collection of three-wall sets following the blueprints of an arcane bargain-bin version of a memory palace have bogged off to wherever it was they came from. And I, slightly shaky with nerves and possibly fending off a pre-trip mugging by the common cold, fight to keep my figurative ‘sh*t’ together and get through this. Monday morning I fly out to Heathrow and on to Oxford. Thursday and Friday I take That Test.
At some point in higher education a student crosses an invisible threshold which turns what was once smug satisfaction and certainty about the world into a painful awareness of just how little one actually knows about anything. You can tell which side of that barrier you stand depending on how you react to a question like this:
“Did European women gain anything from the Renaissance?”