Welcome to the second in our series of OV blogs following Charlie Mackintosh (Cr 13-20)’s journey after King’s as he embarks on his first year at the University of Oxford.
“The remainder of my first term at Oxford has been remarkably normal. The New College coronavirus that was raging in second week ended soon after I wrote my last blog article and since then, cases of Covid-19 in college have been few and far between. I suspect that we have achieved herd immunity and this has enabled the term to continue with relative normality. In fourth week I had my first face-to-face tuition in the form of a politics tutorial on state paternalism. Whilst tutorials had been functional over the internet, it was so much nicer to have them in person and be able to engage in a proper discussion of the topic at hand. For a brief fortnight, we were able to enjoy the pleasures of Oxford (except those requiring mass gatherings such as the night clubs and cancelled balls). I went to a few taster sessions for lacrosse, booked a trial session of real tennis, was playing squash and tennis two or three times a week on the college court, met up with people from other colleges and got involved with the Oxford Union. The restrictions still prevented things from happening, most notably any ensemble music except the chapel choir, but we made the most of it and had a fantastic few weeks.
Whilst understanding its necessity, the second national lockdown was not met with great enthusiasm. We were expecting the worst – no interactions with friends, strict regulations on all activities around college and the city, frequent isolations etc. and we received emails from college warning us of these changes. The college bar had to close, as did all college and university sports facilities and stricter rules were put in place surrounding the library and communal study spaces. Overall, however, the status of New College as an educational establishment, and a small one at that, meant that not much really changed. As we were still eating in the same hall, studying in the same spaces, having tutorials with the same people, living in the same accommodation and worshipping in the same chapel as our entire year group bubble, the frequency of our inter-fresher interactions remained basically unchanged. With the exception of sport, I was able to continue with several of my hobbies and found out during the lockdown that I had been successful in getting an Instrumental Exhibition to New College. I also continued my involvement in the Oxford Union Society and have been appointed Press Officer within the institution. Whilst it was odd not being able to go to the pub and meet people from other colleges easily, it meant that we got to know everyone else in college really well and I am already incredibly fond of my contemporaries and of New College as an institution.
Having only been at Oxford for nine weeks, it felt very odd when my father came to pick me up on the Sunday of eighth week. Much as I am enjoying being back in Worcestershire, the shortness of terms and lack of interaction between my home and university circles almost makes it feel like I am living dual lives; dual lives which will hopefully mix when this pandemic is over!”
If you would like to read Charlie’s first blog this can be found here.