Postcard from Oxford | Over and out Oxford!
28 May, 2023, 4:14 pm
I did it!
After four years I have finally finished studying at the University of Oxford.
It feels incredibly surreal, to even type that to all of you, but after years of hard work it is all over.
The past few years have been anything but boring, I’ve loved, lost, celebrated, cried but I have done it all with my friends.
And, in my last year, I have done it with you all.
True to tradition, my college son brought me my exam carnations.
As I explained in my last column, each flower represents a different exam.
White for your first exam, pink for any exams in the middle, and finally red.
So for me, I had white for my exam on Monday, pink for my exam on Wednesday, and red for my last one on Friday.
Even picking up my white carnation from the small bottle filled with water I had placed it in, last Monday morning, felt quite strange.
Four years of my life, boiled down to 3 days of 7-hour exams.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I started my days exactly the same way.
I had coffee with one of my best friends, Sam, at 8:30am and then we would go down for breakfast together.
At Magdalen, you can have a full English breakfast for under £4, so just under F$11.
For my exams, we were made to sit them all online and could do them from inside our university rooms.
This style of examination is a relic of the pandemic, but I honestly felt really lucky to be able to do that.
I fidget a lot, and just generally find it hard to sit in one spot at the same time.
For exams, I chose to sit them in the library, with my flower next to my laptop so anyone around would tell I was sitting my finals and to not disturb me.
My final exam, on Friday, was the hardest.
I remember sitting there and thinking, if I mess this up, my life is over.
That sounds a bit dramatic, but all that stood between me, and adulthood, was 7 hours of exam and not much else.
7 hours felt like 7 years.
I guess time goes slower when you have something to look forward to.
When I pressed submit, it felt a bit anticlimactic; I half expected a marching band to appear and congratulate me.
Instead, I sat in my room, sunlight streaming through the window waiting for the realisation to hit me: I had finished.
I got changed into my sub fusc: The black skirt, white shirt, and the red flower pinned to it.
I walked down to the entrance to my college and waited for my friends to greet me.
And these were friends I had known for the last four years, either through college, working at the university newspaper, or other strange adventures.
It still hadn’t hit me.
I remember walking through the meadow on auto-pilot, acting out something I had thought about doing for so long, and then actually doing it.
At the University of Oxford you celebrate the end of your degree by getting “trashed”.
For me, it was no different.
I said a few words, looked around at the faces of people I held dearest and stood back waiting for them to pelt me with shaving foam, eggs, powder and powdered dye.
I guess there is something symbolic about wearing your sub fusc, the pinnacle of academic oppression, and allowing it to be covered in various rubbish.
The trashing was not really the bit that left a lump in my throat.
It was seeing the faces of all my friends smiling back at me, proud.
Many of them also had exams, and yet they had taken time out of their day just to congratulate and celebrate me.
One of my friends even travelled up from London, having graduated from the university a year before.
Since finishing, the past few days have felt … strange.
For the past four years I have been working towards a single goal and now I am just not.
I have to develop an actual personality other than being a student of the University of Oxford!
I decided to celebrate the end of my exams by going on holiday.
Nothing too fancy, not France or Spain, but just to the coast of England.
There is a small village at the edge of the world called Mousehole.
It has a population of just under 700, according to the last census.
I decided to escape there on Saturday morning because it is far away from anything or anyone remotely Oxford.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the city of golden spires but I just needed to not see anything remotely academic for four days.
It is a small fishing village with a beautiful harbour and amazing scenery.
I will admit one of the main reasons I went there was to eat some fresh seafood.
I have a real weakness for fresh fish, and it is something I miss terribly about being in Fiji.
The small containers of octopus in coconut milk that they sell in Suva Market is a taste I won’t forget for a long time.
I walked 10 miles along the coast to a secluded beach that you had to rock climb down to, but I hadn’t brought my walking boots so I had to scramble down barefoot.
I am now back in Oxford, living out the last days of university doing absolutely nothing.
Well, nothing of real merit.
I am sure life is going to be very interesting as a graduate, but for now I can sit back and relax.
Oxford, you were truly something, but now it is time to say moce.