A Home Away From Home: What I Miss Most About Oxford

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Image Description: Entrance to the Bodleian Library. Statue of the third Earl of Pembroke. Oxford, UK

With a sunny Trinity unexpectedly taken away, I’ve been missing Oxford more than ever. This feeling of absence is expected given the current global pandemic, with the normal lives of students all across the UK being interrupted by the lockdown. But this longing is more than just a longing for normality to resume; there’s something unique about living in Oxford that makes it so worth missing. This time in lockdown has allowed me to reflect on what makes Oxford so special to me and understand why many of us are feeling homesick for our university.

I’ll admit it, I was guilty of endlessly complaining about Oxford while I was there. Aren’t we all? The immense workload often has me cursing the place; the expectations, the pressure, the intensity – it’s a lot. But now the prospect of another term this year amongst the dreaming spires is fading, I can’t help but regret taking it all for granted.

Academically, I miss the fast pace of Oxford. Although my workload next term will remain the same, it will never feel the same doing it from home. There’s an unspoken solidarity between all those up late working in the library, a feeling of mutual chaos amongst all of us which brings a sense of excitement to studying at Oxford. You’re being pushed to your limit, but so is everyone else.

I miss my tutors. I feel inspired to sit opposite some of the best people in my subject weekly. Tutorials have a distinct dynamic that I struggle to imagine being replicated over a webcam. My tutor picks up on the subtleties in my behaviour and knows to probe me when there’s something deeper going through my head. There’s no hiding in a tutorial and this feeling of exposure, although sometimes terrifying, is something I’m beginning to see the magic in.

There’s an unspoken solidarity between all those up late working in the library, a feeling of mutual chaos amongst all of us which brings a sense of excitement to studying at Oxford. You’re being pushed to your limit, but so is everyone else.”

I miss the people I know and love. The friends I would see every day who are now miles away from me for the foreseeable future. Those people that I regularly sit next to in classes and lectures but would never think to facetime. I miss that feeling of knowing everyone. Those times when you end up chatting to 5 different people in the Magdalen Street Tesco, or when you see someone in the Bridge smoking area who you spoke to yesterday but act like you haven’t seen them in years.

Yes, I even miss the nightlife. You bet you will never see me say no to Fever Friday again. The key to maintaining your sanity at Oxford is a “work hard, play hard” mentality. It’s what makes the immense workload worth it. I struggle to imagine how I will commit to working all day from home next term with no reward. Let’s hope club penguin bops will fill the void until we return. Do you think Hassan’s will deliver to the North West in the meantime?

I miss the traditions and events that make life in Oxford so unique. The weekly welfare teas where you can guiltlessly eat a packet’s worth of biscuits; sitting in a beautiful hall for a cheap and cheerful brunch; punting down the Cherwell with a can of Pimm’s; or seeing your college turned into a magical wonderland for the ball. The things that once made Oxford feel alien to me are now the things that make me feel a part of something special. The community atmosphere created by the collegiate system is something I feel incredibly grateful for in these difficult times.

I miss the aesthetic of Oxford. In the midst of an essay crisis, I forget to look up at the beautiful stacks of books and the incredible architecture I study amongst every day.

The golden hue of college buildings along High Street which brightens up my walk to lectures. The serenity of sitting on the quad and watching people pass you by.

I miss the traditions and events that make life in Oxford so unique. The weekly welfare teas where you can guiltlessly eat a packet’s worth of biscuits; sitting in a beautiful hall for a cheap and cheerful brunch; punting down the Cherwell with a can of Pimm’s; or seeing your college turned into a magical wonderland for the ball.”

There’s truly nothing like Trinity in Oxford and the saying “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” definitely rings true. As much as my heart aches to not be returning this week, I feel more grateful than ever for the time I’ve been blessed with there so far. And when I finally return to Oxford, I will kiss the cobbles in Radcliffe Square.

Image Credits: User Ввласенко @ Wikimedia Commons

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