How many Oxford students does it take to change a lightbulb? Yesterday, eleven
of us, several cups of tea and a very helpful scout. There have been some fun moments like that. And whilst there are swathes of people who really
like drinking to wade through, (as littlered2
discovered when she wandered over to my room on the first night here), there are also awesome and slightly odd ones lurking around.
A few nights ago, I settled down in my friend Merry's extremely large room to mock cheesy romantic comedies, (this has become a regular event with many of the lurking and odd people. It is interesting to note how many Oxford students, and in particular how many male
Oxford students will deride cheesy romantic comedies but keep turning up to watch them. :) ). I was going through my naming bout at the time, as I usually do in a new place, to the irritation of everyone around me. Tilda, who is Jewish and likes religious humour, was egging me on.
RO: *pointing* Towel rack! Terrence! Washing up liquid! Willamina! Lightbulb! Lobelia!
TILDA: What about the plant in the corner?
MERRY: Don't encourage her.
MERRY'S FRIDGE: *makes loud gurgling german sounding noises*
TILDA: Your fridge is a Nazi!
And so Fritz the Nazi fridge was born. And as my new friend Gollum says whenever one of us does something particularly stupid, (like naming a fridge 'Fritz the Nazi'): we're supposed to be some of the cleverest people in the country. *headdesks*
As you can probably tell from Gollum's catchphrase, the passive air of slightly self-congratulatory elitism here is catching. I can feel myself becoming even more snobby than I already was. It's worrying, but disturbingly difficult to resist, especially when all the freshers you know at other universities are moaning about the essay they have to hand in in three weeks time when you've handed your first one in already, and are going to have to do roughly two essays a week
as of this thursday. It doesn't sound too bad, but each essay means a truckload of reading, followed by days of wracking your brains, trying to come up with an independant but penetrating and poignant analysis, followed by a tutorial in which your points are at best kindly acknowledged but proven pathetically wrong, or at worst completely crushed. Alliteration is one of the side-effects. Hysterical laughter is another. I'm sure that tutorials become less one-sided and improve as you do, but I have a feeling improvement will take a while.
To urge ourselves on, my tutorial partner Paddington and I have instituted the treat system. It works like this:
RO: We've survived our first tutorial! I think we deserve a treat!
PADDINGTON: To the ice cream shop!
...Some time later...
PADDINGTON: We got up in time for our first lecture! Treat time!
RO: I know we're just conditioning ourselves, but it feels too right to stop! To the tuck shop!
...some time later...
RO: We've climbed up three whole flights of stairs!
RO: *sadly* I suppose we should do more than that to deserve a treat.
PADDINGTON: Well. I did hold the door open for someone this morning, and it would be rude of me to have a treat without sharing it. *produces giant chocolate slab*
RO: ...I love you. Never leave me.
PADDINGTON: *pats Ro kindly*
And of course, there is the ultimate in positive behavioural conditioning: The I've-finally-finished-my-essay dance. It works like this. Sometime between the hours of 8pm and 3am, the day before your essay is due...
RO: *pokes head out of the library door into the quad*
RO: *checks that nobody is around*
RO: *fully emerges from the library into the quad and composes herself, brushing lint off one shoulder, checking one last time that the quad is deserted*
RO: *pirouettes, leaps and pliés her way across the quad, la-la-la-ing in true Sleeping Beauty style
PADDINGTON: *leaps out from the other side of the quad and pirouettes across to meet Ro in the middle*
FRIENDLY PORTER: *coughs and nods pointedly at the 'stay off the grass' sign*
RO & PADDINGTON: *shuffle off the grass and in the direction of the nearest source of sugar*
I do love it here so far, despite the ridiculous workload and hordes of people with livers of steel. Paddington & co. make it all a lot easier, but I can see how freshers who don't meet lovely like-minded people soon after arriving could find it difficult to be here.
In all the turbulence of freshers week, the thing that has made the biggest impression and given me the most to think about is not something particularly poignant or meaningful. It illustrates the strange melding of eccentricity and practicality here. It is simply that one of my tutors has a bathtub and a towel in the washroom outside his office. Hmm.