Color and amount of burnishing/ antiquing are up to you. My first pair, for instance, had much stronger antiquing compared to the tan ones above. I'd recommend you do one at a time (unless you're going with trial shoes) because even though the fit it is great (which I'd define as being as good as a well fitting Carmina last), it only become perfect on the second pair.
Yup. My last pair was Aurum lasted. These were a Japanese last he modified that he thought would fit my foot well (wide forefoot with a standard heel). You can see the difference between the two below.
I am US based, although currently in the UK. I have a variety of polishes though and could certainly take some interesting pictures around London. Sole options will be great. So would flat versus round lace options.
You're over thinking it :). My MSc program had prep work too. Pretty much basic and useless stuff given to you in order to have common ground and something to discuss when the course starts or if there is a history of students not being prepared for the course work. Usually the former. Most people don't take it too seriously.