The DPhil Diaries: Lincoln Unites, Oxford in the snow and more housemates activities!

Culture Life

Image Description: Nupur Patel’s DPhil Diaries

2nd week of Hilary Term has definitely been on the busier side! I have continued working on a few journal articles, which has been a nice distraction from the boredom that can often arise in lockdown. Admittedly, I did suffer from a little bit of procrastination at the start of the week, but for the most part, journal deadlines have kept me on target. In fact, this week has been great for tying up a few loose ends, one of which has resulted in my first ever journal article being published this week! As I’m sure many postgraduates in the Humanities will tell you, it’s quite hard to publish something in a journal, so I’m thrilled that with a few months left of my time in academia, I’ve been able to finally get my work out there!

When I haven’t been inundated with editing this week, I’ve been enjoying the virtual events put on for ‘Lincoln Unites’, Lincoln College’s annual equality and diversity week. I’m a little biased because I founded it a year ago, but it really has been a wonderful way for Lincolnites to stay connected with each other, especially in these difficult times. It started off as a small pilot launched a year ago and now it has become a great platform for staff, students, fellows and alumni to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion and spark important discussions about the progress that needs to be made, both within the University and beyond.

In all honesty, Lincoln Unites was born out of a place of anger. While I have enjoyed my time at Oxford, there have been some dark days; the racist incidents that I experienced, coupled with my frustration at how slow change can be, ultimately pushed me to finally stand up and do something. Being MCR President of Lincoln College finally gave me the platform that I personally needed to have some influence. Meeting some inspiring JCR and MCR members gave me the courage and momentum to push through initiatives that placed equality, diversity and inclusion at the forefront of discussions. Starting Lincoln Unites reinforced to me the importance of student activism and the need for me as an ally to speak up and use my voice.

While I have enjoyed my time at Oxford, there have been some dark days; the racist incidents that I experienced, coupled with my frustration at how slow change can be, ultimately pushed me to finally stand up and do something.

Student activism isn’t easy, it’s exhausting, frustrating and, quite often, upsetting, but when things come together, no matter how small, it reinforces how worthwhile everything is, especially because your work will benefit others. I’m not professing to be an amazing student activist that has been instrumental to positive change, because I definitely haven’t! But I have been inspired by those that have, both within the University and beyond, and it has made me think over the years about what I can do to contribute. Lincoln Unites is a very small project but it has been my way of leaving something positive behind, and I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere without the dedicated group of JCR and MCR students who were equally invested in it. Collaboration is a huge part of activism that should never be underestimated.

This year, a very dedicated group of JCR and MCR members put together a fantastic schedule of events: an intersectionality exhibition, panel discussions about gender studies in academia and drag, an imposter syndrome workshop and visual impairment awareness webinar, to name a few. I left each virtual event feeling better informed, inspired, and restless for change. Since it’s my last year of being part of this committee, I just wanted to take the moment to thank everyone who was involved in organizing it; I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved and I’m excited to see how Lincoln Unites grows in the future!

Asides from this week of wonderful events, one of the biggest highlights has been the snow that magically appeared on Sunday! It was completely unexpected and a lovely start to the day. I had high hopes of getting some laundry and cleaning chores out of the way (you can tell that I live an exciting life…!), but everything went out of the window when my housemate Alice shouted from the stairs, ‘Nup, it’s snowing!’ I felt like a child again. Before I knew it, I was running down to the front door barefoot in my jammies, with whatever winter coat I could quickly grab from my room. I swiftly opened the door and as the fresh air hit me, I stared out to see the cars coated in snow, and the faint sounds of children laughing.

Before I knew it, I was running down to the front door barefoot in my jammies, with whatever winter coat I could quickly grab from my room. I swiftly opened the door and as the fresh air hit me, I stared out to see the cars coated in snow, and the faint sounds of children laughing.

I decided that the snow couldn’t wait, so without any breakfast or a cup of tea to my name, I roped in Alice to go on a wintery walk around the centre of Oxford for an hour or so and after exploring the main sites, we made our way up to University Parks, where there had already been a few snowmen in the making. We tried to get there before the places got too busy and the snow turned into black slush. I love the feeling of stepping my shoes into freshly fallen snow and staring at the trees all glossed in white. University Parks was certainly a sight for sore eyes!

It’s times like these which make me really appreciate Oxford. It’s not that I don’t in general, I feel really fortunate to be a student at the University, but sometimes I can get a little desensitised to everything around me. I’ve been living in the city for eight years, and I fall into the trap of forgetting how amazing it is, with its historical buildings and lovely green spaces. Occasionally, I have a golden moment – sometimes it’s the sun hitting the big windows in the Rad Cam, the horses in Port meadow or even the autumn leaves falling on Brasenose lane –  which reminds me again about where exactly I am and what a privilege it is to be here. Since I’ll be moving out of the city in a matter of months, I’m trying to make the most of what I can still experience while I’m here – the snow has been the cherry on top for this!

Sadly no snow angels were had, but on our way home we did have an impromptu snowball fight with two of our other housemates who we happened to bump into. I sadly let the side down on my team; while Alice went in fierce with many snowballs ready to launch, I tried to fling the occasional one from behind a bush, too scared to be hit.

These sorts of housemates activities have continued into the week, though you’ll be happy to know that Alice and I haven’t performed any more horrendous haircuts on any innocent housemates…! With Burns Night on Monday, I decided to put together a haggis feast followed by our own living room ceilidh. I spent a couple of hours working on a vegetarian haggis shepherd’s pie, with neeps and tatties, of course! It went down well and my housemates appreciated the Scottish flag that I tried to make out of melted cheese!

With Burns Night on Monday, I decided to put together a haggis feast followed by our own living room ceilidh.

Following our hearty dinner, I moved everyone to the living room to attempt a ceilidh night, which sadly fell quite flat. I stuck a few YouTube tutorials up on our projector and while we did attempt one, all hell broke loose with Loki the puppy who had no idea what was going on, and started running around and barking. We tried our best to follow the routine on the screen, but I guess we all had left feet and completely scuppered it! Our housemate Erwan tried his best to keep us on track but we were laughing too hard to be able to fully concentrate. Oh well, we tried!

Later in the week, we’ve stuck to more chilled evenings which require less coordination: we’ve implemented a fun movie night, some nice house dinners and to round off the week, we had our own special ‘Drink and Draw’ evening which had some interesting results! I think we all unintentionally went for the ‘abstract’ look with our portraits!

This week has also been exciting because our adorable pup Loki went on his first round of walks in our local area! He was super thrilled to finally be out and about and made some doggy friends on his way, including an adorable golden retriever called Bella. He was a little cheeky and tried to steal her toy at one point but for the most part, he was very friendly and well behaved! He seems to be blossoming in our household, learning new tricks every day and very quickly becoming the favourite in the house.

As the weeks go by there has just been a lovely atmosphere in the house – even during the toughest of days, us housemates are becoming a lot closer and making sure that we’re there for each other, whether that’s cheering each other up with a spontaneous kitchen rave or just being a listening ear with a cup of tea. I’m really grateful to have them in my life and I look forward to spending the many weeks that I have left with them.

As the weeks go by there has just been a lovely atmosphere in the house – even during the toughest of days, us housemates are becoming a lot closer and making sure that we’re there for each other

All in all, 2nd week has been quite a positive week, something that I’ve needed before work becomes hectic again with thesis feedback on the horizon! It has been an absolute blessing to have experienced Lincoln Unites for a second year, even if it has been virtually, and the moments of joy with housemates have continued to keep me upbeat and firmly entrenched in the present. Wherever you are, I hope that you’ve had the chance to enjoy the snow and I wish you all the best for 3rd week!

Image credits: Nupur Patel and The Oxford Student Creative Team

 

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