travel

Post-Exam Life

After so long living in a permanent state of anguish, preparing for national exams in order to get the grades to get into Oxford and then trying to get through the endless workload once I entered the blue gates of Trinity College, I forgot what it was like to have copious amounts of free time. It took me a week or two to get over the mentality that I did not have to feel guilty for vegetating in front of my computer, watching hours of youtube or Netflix.

In addition to involving lots of sitting around relaxing, my last few weeks in Oxford were very busy, although with pleasurable pursuits for a change. I was at last able to see more of my aunt, who lives in Oxford, as well as my adorable 18 month old cousin. Having spent so long leading a sedentary existence, I also went for long and aimless walks and short running sessions, feeling pumped by the upbeat reggaeton songs pulsing through my headphones. Then there was Schools’ Dinner, that is, a fancy dinner for students and tutors with plenty of alcohol. I was trying very hard to say something intelligent when my French tutor, who was sat next to me, began talking about his plans to study British pottery and write a book on it once he has retired (he and I clearly have very different retirement plans), but after several glasses of prosecco, white wine, red wine and port, I found conversing on any subject a difficult task. A couple of days after the dinner, with my hangover thankfully gone, my lively Puerto Rican Spanish tutor invited me and my fellow linguist friends to some drinks at the quintessential Oxford pub, the Turf Tavern. The sun was shining gloriously that day as I merrily sat sipping away at a glass of Pimms. Alcohol in fact seemed to be the common denominator for many of my post-exam activities, whether it was University organised drinks, heart-to-hearts over cocktails with friends or excessive quantities of tequila and vodka knocked back before hitting the club.

One hot Wednesday, I went to a spa just outside of the centre of Oxford.  As part of a deal my friends and I had purchased, we were given a pastry and a coffee and access to the pool, steam room and sauna. I think we all benefited from a break from the hurly burly of Oxford.

I of course couldn’t resist going to London, a convenient 45-minute train journey away, while I was still in Oxford.  I stayed in my brother’s girlfriend’s beautiful home for the weekend. Her house was replete with rows of books, lovely family photos and great artwork and memorabilia.  I was impressed by the photos of her father with Boris Johnson stuck on the fridge, the letter from Margaret Thatcher framed in the bathroom, the vintage World War II posters, the stacks of newspapers and magazines (some of which included articles written by her father) and the gift given by president John F. Kennedy, sitting inconspicuously in the kitchen. I was incredibly grateful for being invited to stay there. It was a much better alternative to sleeping on the sofa of my brother’s often untidy flat. However, despite the impressive nature of the house and its contents, it was not intimidating, but rather an inviting, relaxing and cosy place, full of life and energy, with the sounds of a booming tenor voice ringing throughout whenever the Romanian opera singer, who was lodging with them, decided to practice.

The grande finale of my time in Oxford was the Trinity Commemoration Ball, an event which only takes place every three years and was almost as extravagant as the Daily Mail made it out to be in their incredibly sensationalised article. It was true, as said article suggested, that the alcohol did flow freely and there was plenty of food. One of my best friends from home came to the ball with me, which made the night especially fun, although she (unlike me) didn’t make it until 5 o’clock the next morning, when the ball officially ended and my feet, having been in heels all night, were begging me to return home. I thought I would be emotional once the ball was over since its end also signified the end of my time in Oxford, but I wasn’t as sad about the prospect of leaving Oxford as I thought I would be. I think it’s because I know I’ll stay in touch with my friends, I’ll come back to Oxford frequently, the future is exciting and I am so used to leaving and coming back to the place that this time round doesn’t feel any different.

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