First Time for Everything

By Charlotte “Poddy” Wilson @poddywilson

In Michaelmas term, a second year asked me if I had been disappointed by my university experience so far. I truthfully told him that I hadn’t, in part because I had been in my element meeting new people, and in part because I didn’t have any point of reference with which to compare. I did say, however, that I knew that these times would pale in comparison to future experiences, and that things could only go up form here. How right I was!


It’s lovely now to be able to experience “movie” Oxford. With the weather as it is at time of writing, it feels like I’m walking onto the set of some period drama every time I leave my room – which actually was the case when I accidentally wound up walking through the set of Endeavour one morning this term! When I’ve been able to go punting, I do immediately feel like the ultimate stereotype, as if I’m fulfilling the essential Oxford experience. The same goes for formal hall – for the best part of the year, Oriel’s hall has been under renovation, so Trinity saw our first opportunity to dine at formal hall – a quintessential staple of college life. It was lovely to finally don our gowns and gladrags, to take photos on the steps, to shimmy onto the bench and to stand stock still at an incredibly awkward angle between the bench and table as the grace is read out.


This term I also performed in a student theatre production for the first time. This was something that I felt had really been lacking from my student experience, as I had been a keen actor at school. I had had reservations about online performances, but finally, after auditioning in Hilary, I was part of the first in-person play in week 4 of Trinity. Now that I’ve well and truly re-caught the drama bug, I’m currently rehearsing my second play of the term, and I can’t wait for larger audiences to be welcomed back in the next academic year.


Of course, Trinity term also brings with it the first experience of exams at Oxford, in the form of prelims. This year, however, due to certain… circumstances, the number of exams had been reduced for my course, which was very helpful, however I still feel I’m yet to properly experience a real Oxford exam: going to the examination schools, and getting trashed immediately upon finishing… I did wear carnations throughout, but they seemed a little redundant when pinned to a hoodie.


There are plenty of things I’m still yet to experience, like bops, crewdates, in-person JCR meetings, and torpids – so here’s to hoping that Oriel retain the headship when I get to cheer them on in-person next year! Still, I stand by what I said in Michaelmas. Much as Michaelmas was unorthodox to say the least, and the less said about Hilary, the better, it is something of a treat to still be experiencing so many things for the first time, at this point in my Oxford career.