I’m writing this first Oxford blog post from my bed (apart from a European cafe sipping a lukewarm coffee, there is nowhere else I would rather write from) exactly one week after leaving Yorkshire and arriving in Oxford. This time not on Bikey, although he did come along for the ride, but with two car loads of “stuff”. I have so much stuff that one car was never going to cut it.
It’s been an eventful week; meeting so many amazing, talented and incredible people; sampling the delights of Oxford’s cafes and restaurants; and appreciating the architecture and buildings on my early morning runs. This week has also brought along a not-so-wonderful autoimmune response to some unknown allergy which has left me covered in a weird rash, forced me to cancel my Wednesday evening plans (sorry, Tom!) and be in bed before 9pm.
I have to say though, bar my allergic response, my return to student life has been truly incredible. I have enjoyed this first week of being in Oxford so much. It is a wonderful city, full of history and grandeur and apart from Cambridge (boo) I don’t know another city like it. I feel proud and honoured to be part of an institution that dates back for hundreds of years.
My first few days after arriving in Oxford gave me the opportunity to settle in, meet new friends and get my bearings. My amazing American flat mate, Michaela, and I have lucked out with our apartment. We are situated in Jericho, a lively, buzzing part of town, where the Main Street is lined with independent coffee shops and restaurants. I foresee many overpriced oat milk Americanos being enjoyed in them over the coming year.
We celebrated our first night in the flat together with the classic combination of sushi and Prosecco – what better way to start a new chapter.
Due to the current Covid pandemic, the MBA course has been adapted so the University are able to continue teaching, but in line with Government guidelines and in a “Covid-friendly” way. In practice, this means lots of Zoom webinars and meetings, no in person events such as Matriculation or College dinners, and no social activities for more than 6 people to attend at once. It’s such a shame as our Oxford MBA experience is so different to what we thought it would be, and it’s so unlike any other years previously. However, it’s a positive that we can all still be in Oxford and it can continue, just in a slightly amended way.
They say that your class network is one of the best things that comes from doing an MBA and so far so, I would have to agree with whoever “they” are. My fellow students who I have met in person (in a Covid friendly way, obviously) are both so impressive and so lovely. This week has been full of coffees, lunches, dinners, drinks and pub quizzes all with fascinating and interesting people, and I can’t wait to meet even more of my 312 strong cohort.
On Monday we started our MBA in earnest. These first two weeks are entitled “Launch” and they are setting us up ready for our Core Courses to start in October. Dean Peter Tufano kicked everything off with a speech which he broadcast live from the Nelson Mandela lecture theatre, whilst we all watched from our apartments on Zoom. Even though we weren’t in the room with him, Dean Tufano really energised and inspired us all for the year ahead. It was a real celebration of diversity as 67 nations came together via the power of the Internet.
These first few days of “Launch” have been filled with more webinars from the MBA Programme Director, the Careers Team, a Leadership Panel, a Research Panel, and today I had a fun session led by Simeon Courtie, a writer, broadcaster and TV presenter on how to present yourself on Zoom. Note to self: need to pimp my backdrop!
And so, after my first week in Oxford what have I learnt? Well, firstly, if this week is anything to go by then this year will fly by. Secondly; everyone I meet is going to have some incredible experience and be really interesting: don’t be intimidated by that, as Dean Tufano said; “nobody made a mistake in accepting you here, you are all amazing”. And thirdly; you will never regret having an oat milk coffee with someone – you never know what opportunities it could lead to…