Wednesday was our last day in London, so we launched out on a full day tour of the countryside. Our first stop was Windsor Castle one of the three castles owned by the Royal Family (Windsor, Kensington and Buckingham). Windsor is the oldest continually inhabited castle in the world. As long as the queen is on the throne, these three castles are hers because she is queen, but when she decides to pass the throne on to the next generation, she will have to make do with her privately owned castles, like Balmoral (we see this one later in the trip).
After we left Windsor Castle, we headed to the English Countryside to find Stonehenge. To be honest, no one knows why it exists or how long it has really existed, but it was an archological site when the Romans invaded England around 45 AD. Some of the first stone placements and animal bones found there date to around 3000 BC. It was cool to look at and read about all the theories, but in reality, there are really no stories here about why someone put a bunch of stones out in the middle of nowhere.
Our last stop in the trip took us back toward London to Oxford, England, home of the great Oxford University, one of the top 10 universities in the world. It is a very old institution made up of dozens of colleges. You don’t actually apply to Oxford University, you actually apply to the specific college you are interested in, such as Trinity College or Christ College. If accepted to one of these schools, then you can say that you attend Oxford. Tuition is not bad, as it is public university and is subsidized by the state. If you are citizen of this country, you can attend for about 3,000 british pounds a year or about $5,000. If you are an international student, that cost goes to about 20,000 british pounds per year or about $30,000. Of course that’s assuming you can get admitted in the first place. 🙂
There have been things in this country that have surprised me and some that have made me feel pretty blessed. The cost of tuition and some goods in this country were definitely lower than I expected. But you also have to pay to use a public toilet. I have put this on my top ten list of things that the Brits need to change before the Olympic Games. I’m pretty sure the rest of the world does not pay to pee. Also, the Brits incorporate the tip into the bill for you, but the standard tip in the UK is about 12%. The first few days we added on additional tips and then we realized that this is not part of the culture, so we just stopped paying the extra. I recommend those Brits increase their standart to 15% for the Olympics before the American’s arrive. 🙂