A quick look back on Michaelmas

New Hinksey Park and lake- excellent place for stunning sunsets!

Michaelmas unfortunately pretty much picked up where (virtual) Trinity left off. It certainly wasn't exclusively online and I did come back to Oxford and moved into my house but, for me anyway, there was no in person teaching and it all felt a bit surreal. Like I was playing a game of university rather than doing it in real life. 

I was certainly glad to be back in oxford having found the last term working exclusively at home very difficult. I moved into my 2nd year accommodation which is a privately rented house as early as possible and spent a very enjoyable month or so having my own little mini summer term in the glorious weather.

Because of that, when term started the workload was all a bit of a shock, odd really because I'd been consistently planning Fresher's Week and so I did have something of a workload, deadlines etc. Nonetheless I'd become out of practice over the summer with the waltz and pattern of reading, lectures and tutorials. Despite this I threw myself in and was glad to get back tot he work and just learning new things and discussing them with people who were equally interested. 

In terms of academic growth I think this term may have been my best, but in terms of social activities and extracurriculars it was fairly terrible. College was shut to visitors and everyone had to wear a mask everywhere. Communal area's had maximum room occupants and basically nobody really saw anyone. in that sense, despite a few teething problems, I was glad of my housemates and enjoyed spending time in the house. 

I did try to get into both rowing and squash, neither overly successful! Squash was hampered by tutorial and training session clashes. rowing, however was a bit more promising with outings onto the water (actually rowing in an actual boat on the actual river with an actual crew). The only hiccup was that I can't swim and so was limited to five sessions on the water before I had to take a compulsory swim test. This was just to guarantee that I wouldn't drown if the boat capsized, a very unlikely outcome. I decided against taking the swim test because I knew I wouldn't pass it and in failing it would be barred from the boat whether I'd used up all of my five sessions or not. Instead I vowed to go the pool and build up my skills. That was when COVID struck once again and closed everything down so the rowing is still very much a work in progress frustratingly. 

Whilst there were lots of larks and fun and I think I enjoyed myself quite a lot this term and the freedom a house can afford you I certainly still struggled with my mental health at times. I think this was more a combination of an increased and stressful JCR workload as well as the academic side of things. COVID definitely turned everything up a gear and Fresher's week was made all the harder by ever changing and conflicting advice. Everything took longer with no in person meetings and having to come up often with entirely new events for things. Mentally I felt like there was too much for me to balance properly and whilst there were lots of hands extended to help, they couldn't really and so calls to "reach out in any way" all felt a bit hollow. Because of this I did indulge myself in a trip home for a few days to recover and get away from the jabbering and clamours of the everyone at college and I found this very restful and refreshing even though I still had to complete my work. Even though you may be able to physically run away from Oxford, it will follow you. Despite the hard times I felt I achieved a lot and learnt some lessons. Every cloud...

I think for next term I definitely need to organise my time better and stick to a routine. I started off well this term but it all quickly fell apart and I wouldn't want to repeat that challenge again. 

What I'm looking forward to next term:

  • Carrying on living with my friends in our house as the spring comes in 
  • Exploring Oxford more especially the parks
  • Starting my new paper on the Middle East
  • Being bale to meet up with people and do more things as (hopefully) things start to open up again

I wouldn't recommend leaving bikes in places with such clear signs generally but sometimes you have to indulge that anarchist streak


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