ANDREA LUCADO was a pastor’s daughter from Bible Belt America when she arrived in Oxford, aged 22, to study for a Master’s at Oxford Brookes. (She makes regular distinction between Brookes and what she calls Oxford Oxford.) Having spent a term in Oxford while an undergraduate, she thought she knew what to expect. That didn’t turn out to be quite the case.
English Lessons: The crooked path of growing towards faith (Authentic, £9.99 (£9); 978-1-78078-187-7) is a memoir of the emotional and spiritual journey that followed. She falls into all the linguistic traps set by two nations divided by a common language. She misses many of the material comforts from home. The room she is allocated is too small for her three enormous suitcases, and the kitchen is inadequate; she almost has a meltdown when she finds there is no microwave. She struggles to find a decent cup of coffee. She notices that English people have less than perfect teeth and dress more casually.
So far, so superficial. More challenging is the fact that, for the first time in her life, she is not surrounded by Christians. Oxford seems an alien and frightening environment. She finds herself in a class where she is the only believer. A friend takes her to the Atheist Society. Her faith is shaken.
The story ends well, in that when the author lets go of some of her old ideas and rediscovers her faith, it is far deeper and more robust. She makes friends, and she learns to love Oxford. In essence, she grows up.
Sarah Meyrick is a freelance writer and novelist.