Sunday, 12 July 2015

Finals and finality

My life. Since March.

Seeing as a detailed summary would be impossible, I've decided that what would be most accurate is a series of photos with extended captions, You add the rest.

Revision strikes :( although note the phone in the HelloKitty phone sock, that managed to break a month before exams, just to add to the already tense atmospherics. 
Don't want to think about the number of hours, from April until the beginning of June, that I spent in silence, and alone. I kept myself sane by doing some volunteering (including residential events) with the University's Widening Participation scheme, as well as trying to keep up with friends. I deliberately avoided any timetabled commitments, but in retrospect perhaps this would have been a good idea. It's alarming how much some people retreated into themselves during exams, to the point where having a conversation which didn't concern exams became difficult, as did they whenever exams were mentioned. This made life, well...difficult at times.
My escape to the....grey English seaside. 
I went to the coast to see my Dad for a much needed week in the countryside. This photo was taken during the Easter Vacation and captures the weather in all its glory. To be fair, walking along the pier was refreshing, at least.
Goodbye to a good room!
My noticeboard display, in particular the chain of photo memories made for me for my 21st, by some of my friends that I lived with. Those photos gave me a lot of comfort whilst working at my desk all day! I'd already pinned up some postcards and stuff to liven up the all-beige colour scheme of my uni room (remember at Oxford we're essentially in halls for all three years, so we're limited in what we can do to our rooms, decoration-wise).
All of the luck
Lovely view from my window, looking onto the back of a collection of strange-looking buildings. Nice cards though.
Exam carnations! 
At Oxford, it's a tradition to wear different coloured carnations to each exam. You wear them pinned to your white blouse, which students wear as part of the Sub Fusc dress code prescribed for official University exams. The first carnation, for the first exam, is white. Then it's pink carnation time until your final exam, when you finally get to wear the coveted red one!

In case you're wondering, your college children (assigned to you as first-years) buy you your carnations, just as you would have brought them for your "parents" when you were in 2nd year (most people have major exams at the end of their 3rd year). The "parent" system sounds odd, but actually it's a great way to introduce students from different years and subjects to each other, so that people feel more connected in college. My college parents were there for me in first and second year when I had questions about the year ahead, and in the same way, my college children  were another group of people that I could do fun stuff with, and receive comfort food packages from during exams!
You can say what you like about Oxford...but it'll still look this good as you're revising. This photo is of a walkway known as 'Dead man's walk' - I don't know why! Maybe the city hanging tree and gallows used to be near here?

Sorry, can't hear you over the sound of the symmetrical stripes mowed onto this lawn...did I hear "perfection"?
Back of Christchurch and Merton college, with some of Christchurch meadow in the foreground. 

Oxford, the beautiful Botanical Gardens. Free entry for Oxford students! I always made an effort to come here in the summer months, meeting friends and getting out of college. Also for the Amber Spyglass references...  

Port Meadow, slightly rugged, and definitely needed in a city as busy and tourist-flooded as Oxford in June. I went here for the first time after my exams had finished, and I literally felt as though my life had started anew. Great place to bring a book and a packet of sweets. Or to sketch the wildlife, if you're as artistic as some of my friends! 
Farewell dreaming spires! It's been cool watching you when I was supposed to be looking at books...
This photo was taken from the cupola of the Sheldonian theatre, where I'll be graduating from in about 2 weeks' time. Again, I'd never been up here before (or up the spire of St. Mary's, which I also ascended) and made the most of my student ID whilst I still good! I'd recommend it as quite a quiet place to get a good view of Oxford's spires. It's indoors, which also makes it a decent call for overcast days.

Another thing that I did for the first time after exams was to play croquet! I surprised myself by being quite good at it (well, for someone who's never played before) and decided that I liked the game, though mainly for Alice in Wonderland references and the sheer cliche of playing croquet as an Oxford student.

I left Oxford with the feeling that I was happy of everything that I'd achieved, but that I was also happy to leave. I've never been one to cling onto places (although I'm sure I'll be more nostalgic when term starts again in October) so I felt like it was my time to go. After finishing exams I had little else to do, with is a weird sensation in somewhere as work-orientated as Oxford. I'll romanticise it in years to come, no doubt, but at times Oxford could be a very challenging place to live though. However, it is that experience that has made me who I am today, and for that, among other opportunities, I am truly grateful.

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