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The 50/50 year

By Charlotte ‘Poddy’ Wilson @poddwilson

Well, it’s been a strange one so far, hasn’t it? Having spent two lovely months in Oxford for Michaelmas, I then had to change plans sharpish for Hilary term after the third lockdown was announced. At first, I was very down about it, and to some extent I had good reason. I’ve never been very good at self-motivation when working at home, and I tend to be far happier when surrounded by people. Besides that, I’m also terrible at keeping in contact with people on social media, so I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to feeling lonely during distanced uni. This term was set to be a personal challenge from the get-go.

One major difference between this term and the last is that I could no longer gauge how other people in my classes were finding the work. Before, I had been able to work in the library with friends on the same course, or when passing each other around college we’d ask how one another was finding it. With my self-imposed social media seclusion, I now had no idea how easy or difficult my classmates were finding assignments, and inevitably I began to think that I was falling behind. I absolutely know that at Oxford you are not in competition with other people at all, only yourself, but being isolated, I saw my mind start to get the better of me, and in 5th week, the blues hit me hard. I found myself having a real wobble and seriously doubting my own ability. When the end-of-term report readings came around, my tutors assured me that my doubts were absolutely unfounded, but nevertheless, I’m looking forward to regaining the comfort of being surrounded by my peers.

Hilary could not have been more of a contrast to Michaelmas: I write with absolutely no irony whatsoever when I say that the two months I spent in Oxford were some of the happiest of my life. I didn’t mind that instead of a freshers fair we simply had to scroll through a list of societies and add ourselves to the Facebook groups of any that took our fancy; I didn’t mind that the clubs were closed and instead we celebrated Freshers week by drinking Tesco’s own vodka in a crowded stairwell; I didn’t even mind that our Matriculation was a little unconventional – instead of listening to spoken Latin in the Sheldonian, my college were sat one-to-a-pew in the University Church with a third of our year at a time. None of this mattered to me because I still knew that, at some point, I would get to have my own Real Oxford Experience, so I was far more interested in enjoying myself and getting to know all the wonderful, interesting people around me. And now, things are looking up! I’ve got a part in a play that should – fingers crossed – go ahead the week that theatres open, the road map is in place, the sun is out for longer… I have every confidence that my enjoyment levels will soon be back to those of Michaelmas – and beyond!

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