by Cecilia Tosciri

Many people, especially Italian people, like to complain about the weather in the United Kingdom and endorse other stereotypes, as the bad food, the expensive living, the excessive politeness of British people, the lack of the use of bidet… Well, that’s all true!

During the last three weeks in Oxford I’ve rarely seen a sunny day. Or actually, it happens to me that when I wake up in the morning I can see a weak ray of sunshine across the window and every day I think “well, today is the day, summer is coming!” and I head for the Department of Physics, leaving my jacket at home. But magically, when I get off the bus, the sky suddenly becomes gloomy and it looks like autumn! Ok, no problem, autumn is my favorite season, once you know that summer simply doesn’t exist here, you act accordingly!

But the lack of summer has an impact on the food too: how do vegetables grow without sun? Indeed, you can not find many varieties of fruits and vegetables in the supermarkets, and the few that you manage to encounter are just flavourless. Sorry, but the topic of food is the one that matters most to Italian people. We are used to having amazing meals of lasagne, pizza, pasta, any kind of ham and cheese, fresh fruit and vegetables, and these are just the common examples. The point is that we can not believe that “fish and chips” could be a national dish!

On the other hand, if you are an Italian abroad, you can easily play a special role in some events. For instance, yesterday I was invited to participate in a barbecue (starting at 4 p.m.! Was that lunch or dinner?) where basically I didn’t know anyone and I showed up with a homemade tiramisù. It was a total success, and I’m sure that, even if they will not remember my name, at least they will think about my cake for several days!

Concerning British people, they have an extremely polite behaviour, they continuously apologise for everything and they don’t miss a “please”! I mean, this is not a bad thing at all, but sometimes you really don’t understand what they are actually thinking and you start suspecting that they are secretly judging or making fun of you!

I’m stopping now, I could continue talking about the importance of the bidet in a civilized society, but I fear that not many people would understand (to my disappointment, this mysterious object has taken root only in Italy and in few other places in the world).

You could think now that I am too much disapproving, but I want to recall that I come from Tuscany and people from there are famous for their sharp sarcasm, not as polite as the english humor! I know, that’s no excuse, but to each his own, right?

Well, seriously speaking, actually I am very happy of my life in Oxford. Everything in this city smells like history and culture to explore. It is a bustling cosmopolitan town, plenty of historic buildings, colleges, libraries and museums. I adore the architecture of the houses with the typical sloped roof. And, among all, I’m going to study and work for a while in one of the most ancient and prestigious universities in the world! I can not hide that this is really exciting and motivating!

Give me more time and I will get used to the afternoon tea, the porridge and the cars driving in the wrong direction! After all, a perfect country does not exist!