Exactly one year ago I was working on my application for the University of Oxford and the Berrow Foundation Scholarship. I remember reading everything that was available on the official websites and thinking that I had a fairly good idea of what to expect. To say I was wrong would be quite an understatement. Everything is amplified by a hundred in Oxford and the people here are more brilliant, the library resources richer, the social events more spectacular, and the city more vibrant than could ever be put into words. Only when you have been here for a while you will understand why Oxford ranks as the best University in the world.
From the day I arrived everyone welcomed me warmly. The administrative staff – Carmella in particular – was friendly and eager to help me settle in quickly. Tiziania Imstepf, who is a second-year Berrow Scholar, introduced me to a few other Berrows and gave us a tour of the beautiful Lincoln College. Since then, our magnificent College library and cozy MCR have become my new home; a home that is filled to the brim with open-minded, kind and diverse people. And since Oxford only accepts students who are brilliant all around, the conversations outside of class are often even more stimulating than those in class. In fact, I was surprised to see how easy it was to make friends here, even as a DPhil student who doesn’t have mandatory classes.
If I had to describe a typical day here, it would be something like this: I usually row at 6.30am (the sunrise over the Isis makes getting up early worth it!), have breakfast with our tight-knit crew afterwards, start work in the College library by 9.30am, go to hall for lunch (which sublimates my desire for Hogwarts to be real), go back to work for a few more hours, attend a talk by a public figure at the Oxford Union around 6pm (e.g. Monica Lewinsky), and end the day with dinner and drinks in the pub with my friends. One single day in Oxford offers the same amount of activity, excitement, and productivity that other Universities and cities offer in a week. The downside of that, however, is that you can easily spread yourself too thin and lose sight of what is really important – work.
Now that Michaelmas term has come to an end, life has drastically changed: there are more available seats in the library and in hall, since the undergraduates have left; the streets of Oxford bustle with tourists rather than students; and the lack of a term card filled with classes, international speakers, welfare teas, mid-term parties, balls, library tours and rowing training sessions help me focus more on my DPhil work. As much as I already miss the busyness of term time, I am enjoying this return to a slower-paced lifestyle without constant FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). After all, mid-January will be here soon and Hilary term promises to be just as memorable as Michaelmas. I am very grateful to the Marquise de Amodio and the Berrow Society for funding me throughout my DPhil – a period of time, which will undoubtedly be one of the most exciting ones in my life.
Oxford, 5th December 2017.
Sofie was studying for a DPhil in English