Tuesday, 24 June 2014

What She Did Next, April - June 2014

View from the Old Bodelian library, towards the Radcliffe Camera. Upper floor reading room, my favourite place to work, probably. 
I confess that I've stolen many of these photos (but not all of them!) from my Facebook. I just don't have that many good photos of Oxford, and in a city this beautiful, there's a limit to what you can physically photograph in a single term! I'll add captions as we go, and if I haven't stated that a particular photo is mine, then presume it isn't, and I won't try to take credit for it! 

Main quad of Teddy (St. Edmund) Hall, where I've had tutorials this term.
Oxford looks fantastic in the sunshine, it attracts tourists like a honey-trap. Literally, a sandstone-formed honey-trap. All that glistens is not gold, however...
Main quad facing medieval cottages, Worcester college.
It's strange. This term I had no exams, and being 2nd year, everyone told me that I was in for the summer of a lifetime, a blissful world of eternal sunshine compared to that of the Freshers doing Prelims, and certainly a world away from the furious work ethic of the Finalists. On the one hand, I blame myself for buying into the hype, but on the other, I'll admit that I was statistically unlucky, but also that some elements of the stress I experienced were my fault, due to the fact that I often internalise stuff, and get overwhelmed, probably too easily.
Towards main quad from Nuffield lawn, Worcester college. 
Work wasn't the problem. I mean, it wasn't great, but that was because of how much time my mind was wasting dwelling on other things. The main things being my upcoming trip to China, which still has a few vital necessities to be sorted (insurance, health forms, final arrival arrangements) and, more seriously, the fact that several of my friends became quite seriously mentally ill. I don't want to make the tone of this blog post overly dark, and I feel very much as though I've now "been there and got the t-shirt" as far as the past 6 weeks or so are concerned. It was difficult (and naturally a thousand times worse for them) but I hope, in the long run, that experiencing stuff like this at the age of 20, and learning from the experience, should equip me for scenarios of a similar nature that may well occur in my future.

Ultimately, isn't that what university is supposed to be about; not just the French Wars of Religion, or the Court of Henry VIII, it's about stress, knowing how to help others, and stay afloat yourself, and taking moments to yourself so that you have happy memories to return to when needed.
St. Hugh's college
That's enough about that for now. This isn't a blog about student mental health issues, I just thought that it was an important point to raise, rather than describing my university life falsely, through a montage of sunny landscapes and concise captions. Some things are beyond the lines.

Anyway, above is a photo of where I did one of the Easter Residentials that I worked on with part of the Widening Participation programmes at Oxford. It was a fantastic experience, I got to stay in a different college for a few days, see a different part of town, meet new Oxford Uni students and of course many more secondary school students from around Oxford, who were revising for their GCSEs. The Easter residentials I worked on were some of the highlights of my vacation, and I seriously think that working with other people, and thinking that you're making a positive impact on their life, is one of the greatest cures for personal anxieties and worries.
Corpus Christi college's Tortoise fair! This is actually my photo.
A great afternoon out, based on an old college tradition - tortoise racing! So glad I got to see this (well not actually see much, because look at the crowd and consider that I'm only 5"2...) because it's such an "Oxford" thing. My friends at home could hardly believe the event description! It was lovely to get out of college and explore somewhere new, and I even got to hold a tortoise - who wouldn't be pleased with that?
OxHoli, Hindu festival of colour, Merton sports field, by St. Catherine's college. This is my photo from a safe distance!
OxHoli. Coloured powder, meets cheap white clothing, and lots of water, usually fired out of plastic water guns, or (in the case of me and my friends) just mixed into the cups of powder to make a wonderful, rainbow-coloured sludge to chuck at people. Such amazing stress relief. Things got messy, so much so that my clothes from that day (including shoes) remain in a carrier bag under my bed...it also took 3 hair washes for my hair to feel normal again.
Oxford Botanical garden, sadly not my photo!
This place is my great escape. I feel slightly guilty when I slip off here by myself, but it really is a great place to be alone, if that doesn't sound weird (esp. if you're a fan of His Dark Materials). Plus if you're an Oxford student, you get in for free! Can't beat that smug feeling of sailing past lines of tourists...
Punting by Magdalen bridge! I've been punting here, but actually in a boat, so I didn't take this one either :P
Punting is great (you get wetter than you think, even if you're not paddling/ punting). I was consumed by exam fever last year and so didn't get to go. This year I saw sense and insisted that we did. Willows, ducklings, people doing bridge stunts. Singing in a round, and exploring abandoned furniture discarded on a river bank. It was pretty special.
Zoom the tortoise! Tortoise fair, my picture, (such good quality)  woop!
You know why I like tortoises? Because they're decades old, and they just get on with life. Stuff changes, but they change very little, or if they do, they're constantly adapting so they only appear the same. We could all learn from that. Also, the amount of salad that they eat is commendable.
Corpus Christi college, front quad, decorated for the fair, reminded me of the festival/ dance scene in Disney's Tangled
Another image, that of The History Boys in which one of the boys visits the college when called to Oxford for interview, thinking it to be the former college of his favourite teacher. I remember seeing that film for the first time 2 years ago, when I was caught in the terrible limbo between sitting my A2s and getting my results.

I feel as though this post has been sufficiently long enough to explain my absence, well, if you add the 9 essays and 1 presentation I also prepared in the last 8 weeks, as well as two trips to London to sort my Chinese visa. Let's not even count the number of lectures & classes on top of that.That's pretty much it, I can only hint at the rest, as is the nature of rambling blogs about life.

One regret of term - not getting to play croquet. Me and some friends were originally entered into a university-wide competition, but due to issues with equipment and scheduling matches, it never happened. Next year Oxford, next year I'll come prepared...

PS, a reminder, my sister's blog link is; http://i-like-to-be-in-america.blogspot.co.uk/ . She's currently in her 2nd or 3rd week of being an adventure camp counselor in New York state, U.S.A :)