I can’t believe it. Four years of Oxford has come to an end. Well, not officially. I’m still awaiting my exam results, I am staying in Oxford a few more weeks and my graduation ceremony (bizarrely) isn’t scheduled until next year. So there are still things which bind me to Oxford, in addition to my sentimental attachments, which I am sure will make me want to always come back to the place, if not physically, certainly mentally when I’m sitting reminiscing. Of course, not all my memories of Oxford are entirely pleasant. And this past year has been hard, to say the least.
It is pretty much a given that taking exams is a stressful process. The exams I took, being finals and counting for 100 per cent of my degree, could not be blown off as something ‘unimportant’. The whole routine of waking up, making sure I was properly dressed in sub fusc (Oxford lingo for a fancy uniform of sorts which includes a white shirt, black trousers or skirt, a mortar board, a weird ribbon thing, a gown and black shoes), going to the place where the exam was being held and waiting in anticipation with other nervous students frantically reading through their notes, were all stressful enough in themselves. Added to this was the difficulty of the actual exams, with ridiculous questions such as this one, taken from one of last year’s papers: “In all Galdós’s novels the powerful socio-historical imperative is diversified by features which pertain more to self-analytical impulses concerned with fictional structure. Discuss”. But it wasn’t just the exams which made this year so gruelling. It was the hours and hours spent studying ,living in a permanent state of stress, feeling guilty if I had a break and having to calculate how long I could give myself a break for. I couldn’t just chat aimlessly with friends and look at my watch hours later, wondering where the time had gone. And don’t even get me started on my sleeping patterns. Hello over-the-counter sleep medication. I owe you one.
It is funny for me to look back now at an article I wrote during the first term of my first year of Oxford, which you can read (it’s only a short one) by clicking here. In said article, I wax lyrical about how amazing Oxford is and how happy I was being there, even suggesting that I would be sad when my studies here came to an end. I read all this now and laugh. Endless studying and constant stress is not something I am going to miss.
Yet all this would suggest that my experience at Oxford has been largely negative. This is far from the case. Being able to live in the centre of such an incredibly beautiful city is a unique experience I may never get to taste again. I met some wonderful people along the way, who were so interesting and intelligent yet also so kind-hearted. I am particularly grateful that I was able to live with two such amazing people, who always found a way to put a smile on my face. I learnt so much academically, but I think the most important lesson I learnt was that family and friends are worth more than whatever final mark I’ll get to put on my CV. I could not have got through all this without the love and support which people were always willing to give me. My family and friends’ constant pep talks telling me that my exam result won’t define me, that they’ll still love me anyway and that all I could do was my best was exactly what I needed. Life really is too short; there are far greater tragedies which could befall me than failing finals and I’d rather enjoy life than worry about a stage in my life I am already looking back on as a thing of the past.
So with that little prelude over, I am now preparing to enjoy my summer holiday. I am starting this blog up again because, having been bitten by the travel bug, I am now in constant search of adventure, and I intend to document my escapades here. While my bank account is telling me I really should start looking for a proper job, I am trying to delay adulthood for as long as possible and you are welcome to come along with me for the ride!