Language schools

· life ·

I've had to get the bus into the work for the past couple of weeks[2], so I've been spending quite a lot of time with some of the hordes of language school students currently tooling around in Oxford. This tends to slow the journey into work a bit, as it takes some time for the driver to ascertain where they want to go and show them how to use the machine for passes. He had a brave attempt at making up the lost time by engaging Warp Factor 9 between the stops. With so many people standing, this was interesting, to say the least; I don't think I've seen so many white knuckles outside of a theme park.

I'm always puzzled about why the people who organize these summer schools think it's a good idea to hand out identical backpacks, t-shirts or caps to the students. It seems an absolute invitation for local ne'er-do-wells to target them as potential crime victims. In fact, I'm sure I remember some discussion of this very point a couple of years ago in the local paper, after a spate of muggings on the students.

Some of the students even have laminated ID badges hanging around their necks. These might as well have the following message written on them in large, clear type:

Hello. I'm not from your country. Consequently, I'm not (as yet!) very proficient with your language, nor am I familiar with your customs, your law enforcement officers, or your public transport system. Might I therefore suggest that if you are contemplating a mugging, pick-pocketing or a confidence trick of some kind, I would make an easy and convenient recipient of your professional attentions. Thank you for your kind attention.

[2] When I went to ride my bike for the first time after my accident, I found that the back wheel was really buckled, so it's been in the repair shop since then. Apparently 24" wheels aren't easy to come by.