Sunday, 10 October 2010

Week 0: Things I have learned

Things I have learned about Oxford:
  1. There is a different word for everything here. Fees are 'battels', Freshers' week is 'Week 0' or 'Noughth week', a PhD is a 'DPhil', etc.
  2. You can be fined £50 for not wearing the correct academic dress - right down to your freshly laundered black socks - on certain occasions (including exams),
  3. Blackwell's on Broad Street is amazing. It is now my joint-equal favourite bookshop alongside Waterstone's Gower Street (London),
  4. The University of Cambridge was founded because of scholars dissenting from Oxford (rather like UCL from King's, I suppose),
  5. Lectures are optional, and any student of the University can attend any lecture,
  6. If you place the Examination Regulations book against a wall and hit the bottom of a wine bottle against it a few times, you can remove the cork without a corkscrew.
The Cloisters and the House
Things I have learned about St. Stephen's House,
  1. The current buildings were originally the residence of a closed religious order called the Cowley* Fathers, there is a secret staircase to the street that was used by a doctor to avoid breaching the closed order, and the old mortuary is now the House computer room (it's still pretty chill in there),
  2. The House has only been a full Permanent Private Hall of the University since 2004, and it remains the case that a large number of students are Anglican ordinands.
  3. The Founders' Chapel in the roof has a mural in which the saints are apparently depicted with the faces of various former members of staff, and if the windows in the chapel are opened, "pigeons come in and crap everywhere and you have to get a man with a gun to shoot them".
I'm sure there was more said this week than that, it's amazing how quickly it deserts you! I'm really enjoying my time here so far, everyone is delightful and I think the structure of the days (based around prayer and mass services) is really lovely. It's nice to have a motivation to get up at 6:30am, so I can really get going with things. I'm hoping it will help to keep me on track with my studies. I haven't made it to evensong yet, because I'm nervous about singing the wrong tunes. That said, no one has minded yet that I keep making mistakes, thank God for the patience of the church and her clergy!

On that note, I already have work to be cracking on with. I'm looking forward to lectures starting for me on Tuesday, and have got several courses of lectures mapped out this term that I'm planning to attend. These range from the ones that will get me through my exams (Introductions to the Old and New Testaments, Christian Moral Reasoning, God, Christ and Salvation) through to the things that interest me (Religious Philosophy, Diversity in the Church). Whatever else happens, it's going to be a good year of learning. 

*Cow in Cowley is pronounced like the animal, not so that it rhymes with Rowley!


  1. Kudos to you for seeing the positive side of getting up at 6.30! :P

  2. Sounds fantastic :)