University of Oxford
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32516: What college are you at? Who cares?

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posted on 2023-12-08, 22:04 authored by Lockdown2020 and Beyond Project

I stressed a lot about choosing the right college for my postgraduate studies. As someone who likes to plan everything, I researched every college and made a meticulous choice: was there a college gym? was there a piano I could play? was it near my department? In the end I was assigned a college that was far away from my department but, optimistically, I got a flat next to it so I could try to throw myself into college life.

Now, it all seems slightly futile. For much of term college meals were closed to non-residents. The few social events for non-residents were online anyway (note the past tense: they have since been abandoned). I was forbidden to play the piano in the common room on Covid grounds, among others. I was very much looking forward to feeling a sense of community from my college. I thought that after graduation, whenever I met another Oxonian I would say: "What college were you at? Oh me too! Wasn't it great?" But in practice Covid has made it irrelevant to my life. But not totally irrelevant: I'm now stuck with a long commute to my department (40 minutes on foot) because, remember, I chose accommodation specifically near my college that was going to be such a big part of my life. I realise that these thoughts are supposed to be positive, and indeed there are many positive aspects to my Oxford experience, but I would be doing the future historians of the Great Plague of 2020 a disservice if I hid from them an accurate picture of how our lives have been affected.





St Stephen's House



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