Oxford Students Wear Tuxes To Exams, But Also Have Food Fights

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Can you imagine putting on a tuxedo for your Spanish final?

Over here in good ol’ America, we’re known for dressing down. Way down. If you’ve ever been to a college final exam, most people are wearing sweatpants and hoodies. Most people look like they haven’t slept in three days. Some people smell like old Chinese food.

At Oxford, in the UK, lads and ladies get done up in black tie attire…to take a test! Longstanding tradition at the British university (hey, the school was founded in the 11th century) requires that all students wear formal clothing for their exams. The exam period is underway across the pond right now, and the black tie rule is strictly enforced.

For the first exam, students wear a white carnation on their lapels–and a red for their last. And a pink one for all the ones in between. Cute, right?

I spoke with two British friends from college who skipped out on the UK system to study in the U.S. and asked them what they had to say about their all-American peers.

The first one told me:

“The general attire of American college kids is somewhat appalling to me. I think it’s relatively disrespectful to professors to show up wearing sweats or pajamas to class or exams. It shows absolute laziness and sloth-like behavior, which is not what I expected coming to a top U.S. institution. But alas, one makes do with what one is immersed in.”

Another friend shared similar sentiments, and gave me some insider details. I was glad to hear that even in their fancy garb, Oxford kids still manage to engage in an iconic American high school movie motif: the food fight!

“One of my best friends goes to Oxford and has to dress up and it is just another one of their historical traditions. When they take their final exams, their friends wait for them outside the exam hall in order to throw food and sauces all over their suits and that is just another tradition.”

My friends don’t exactly wear ball gowns to class (though I wish they would), but I see the point. Doth the ladies protest too much? How slovenly do the kids at your school dress?

(Photo from Getty)