Not at all; England's healthcare system makes it easy to sign up at a practice and receive regular, free, healthcare. I've found it easier to receive healthcare in the UK than in the country I was born in.
I do admin work at an English language school. It's bland work compared to my studies, but it's exciting to be in such an international environment, and it pays my bills. I also do a few freelance writing gigs to supplement my income.
I do speak the local language, of course but that doesn't mean that I automatically fit in, or that there aren't huge cultural gaps between the locals and me. I'm always very aware of my outsider status, trying to learn as much as I can about the English people and respect the way they live.
Of course; I'm an only child, so I think it's especially hard for my parents and me, being so far apart. I do wish I could see my family more often, but the fundamental fact is that I'm happy here, and that means a lot.
I'm working on it! I'm hoping to stay on in Oxford for at least another year after I get my masters. I'd like to do a doctorate here someday.
My partner and I rent a house in East Oxford, a 15-20 minute walk from the center of the city. We're very lucky; we have a beautiful three-bedroom house with a garden.
It's very expensive here - more expensive than the big US cities. We do our best to keep our costs down - I cycle everywhere and neither of us has a car.
I've found some very close friends here, most of whom are English. The English have, in some ways, a very closed, if also often beautiful, culture - interaction through apology, not speaking to each other in public situations unless pressed. And every society has its unwritten laws; I think it's refreshing to both parties in an inter-cultural relationship to be with someone who isn't afraid to break the rules that you yourself think are unbreakable.
It's expensive to live here. And I'm far from my birthplace, and my parents. The positive sides? I could go on for ages. The people, the beauty (Oxford is one of the most stunning cities I have ever been in), the history, the countryside, the pub.
Read a lot. Visit the pub, not the nightclub, if you want to meet people, or interact with friends. Be utterly genuine, and utterly honest. Be gracious. Realize that in your role as outsider-on-the-inside, you have great power, great freedom, and the wonderful ability to learn about both the place you're in as well as yourself.
On the web, www.dailyinfo.co.uk is the best resource for living in Oxford; www.ukcosa.org.uk is good if you're considering studying in the UK. Finally, I have a weblog in which my experiences abroad feature prominently.
Thank you for the interview!