It’s definitely true what they say about getting an education at The University of Oxford or Cambridge. It is unlike no other. This first week of the course has been a mixture of intense, interesting, and, at times, overwhelming. The style of teaching and learning is unlike anything I’ve experienced previously, but I guess that’s why we are consistently ranked one of the best Universities in the world…
Due to the current pandemic, our whole timetable has been turned upside down. Instead of what would have been 8 hours a day in the Business School with face time with the tutors, we are split into sections of twenty people and then study groups of five within that. My section, D4, is a great group; a real mix of nationalities, backgrounds and previous work experience. The eight hours a day has been cut drastically to two hours a day: usually one hour on Zoom and one in person, although some days both hours are in person.
This might sound like the University has gone soft on us, but it’s quite the opposite. Instead of the eight hours where we would have had the content taught to us in person, all the content has been pre-recorded and uploaded online. This means that before the in-person session, for each module, we need to watch and learn from the pre-recorded lectures, do the necessary reading around the subject and then prepare a case study. Due to the time restrictions of the sessions, it means you need to be even better prepared as the tutors want to make the sessions more focused and discussion based, rather than teaching concepts: that’s for us to do in our own time.
For one of our modules, Tech & Ops, we have to prepare the case study in our study teams each week and then present back to the rest of our section. This throws in the added complexity of trying to organise five peoples schedules so we have enough time to create a new presentation every week!
There are 16 sections in total (which must have been a scheduling nightmare!) so 7pm in person classes are not going to be unheard of. D4 had a 7pm class on Tuesday and I believe, there was another class following us at 8:15pm! That same evening I had to hot-foot it back to our flat as my college, St Catz, had organised online speed dating, which they subsequently changed to “Speed Friending”! It was organised by the MCR (Middle Common Room) which is a committee of post-grad students, who organise events and look after all Masters and DPhil students. I think about 50 students dialled in to the speed friending and then we were split up into different Zoom breakout rooms for ten minutes at a time to get to know another student.
Alongside all the studying, we are making time for socialising and meeting new people on the course. There are still so many people I haven’t met! On Wednesday evening I ventured down to Cowley for the first time for dinner with Jacob and James from Australia, and three other guys from the course who I hadn’t met before. It was a really fun evening: would highly recommend the restaurant, Za’tar Bake.
Then on Friday night, to celebrate the end of our first week, we had a Botley Road Crew x Wharf Mews Massive night in. Michaela and I went round to see Jon, George, Emil and Hannah who live on Botley Road and Jon had created the most wonderful spread for us all!
So the weekend rolls around and the preparation for next week starts all over again – it will be impossible to keep on top of all the reading and pre-recorded material; you could keep reading around the subject forever if you really wanted to! But for me, the Oxford experience also has to include going to college events, meeting friends for morning coffee walks down the canal, six-person nights out, and early morning gym classes. So as much as I will turn up prepared for class, to make the most out of this year I won’t be getting too bogged down with reading everything to the nth degree at the expense of the wide-ranging extra-curricular activities. This week “He Saïd, She Saïd” pub quiz team is back in action, not content with 2nd place last week, we’re going back for the win!