Course: Diploma in Legal Studies (postgraduate one-year course)
From: Canada - University of Victoria
Living in: Thelwall House (College flats for married couples)
Monday 5:30 am (yes, AM): I awake to the intense pulsing of my alarm clock reminding me that while it may be pitch black outside the day must begin. I collect my "oxford blue" one-speed and head down to the Isis. It is unusually wet and muddy along the pathway making me wish that I were in the boat rather than coaching from the bank on my one-speed, not so ideal in the mud. However, as the darkness lifts and the Jesus College boat crew becomes visible, I am overwhelmed by a sense of pride as they glide effortlessly past the struggling Christ Church crew. After a quick pep talk in the boathouse, it is off to College for a hot breakfast and chat about how well the crew is developing for the Summer Eights.
With the athletic goal achieved, it is time to prepare for the famous weekly "tute" (tutorial) with Jesus College's resident law guru Peter Mirfield. After breakfast, a trip to the Bodleian Library to collect the several hundred pages of reading that I will transform into my artillery for battle later this week. Before my first lecture, I refuel with a carbo-packed fruit and nut brownie from the Alternative Tuck Shop, a must for sandwiches. After being thoroughly entertained and hopefully educated by Professor Horder on the complications of British criminal law as it relates to murder, it is back home to begin extracting the essentials from my readings. A home cooked dinner with my wife Buffy, complete with dessert from Tesco's, as we debrief each other on another busy day.
Tuesday 6:30 am (yes, AM, but a whole extra hour of sleep): It is off to the Iffley Road Sports Complex for a Blue's (Oxford University) Rowing team morning session of weights and ergs, (rowing's substitute for hell). However, the prospect of breakfast at St Catz with one of the boys is enough to get me through. I was fortunate to discover very early on that each college tends to have one or two unique features, and the porridge at St Catz is the best in Oxford. Then it is off to the library to read about another misdirection by Lord Diplock on the matter of "recklessness". Today I don't have any lectures so I have scheduled a meeting with the "Prime Minister" of the Canadian Student's Society to discuss the lack of awareness in Oxford about the developments in the National Hockey League lockout. The Blue's rowing team then piles into mini-buses and heads off to Wallingford where we train on a narrow but very long stretch of the River Thames. Today it is dark by the time we head back to Oxford (4:15 pm) - could someone explain Daylight Savings please?
Wednesday 6:30 am (I imagine you have decided not to row by now): The highlight of the day was an exchange dinner with Merton College. This was a great way to experience life at another college and meet new friends. It was also a chance for the Jesus students to be reminded how much better our college is than any other, however Merton did have nice pudding for dessert. Some of us stopped at the King's Arms for a pint on the way home, we are all struggling to keep up our 21 units of alcohol quota for the week.
Thursday, yup, 6:30 am: The day of reckoning for criminal law students at Jesus. Today I had my tutorial with Peter Mirfield and while I am still alive I have definitely been wounded. This is a unique experience where despite all of your preparations you still find yourself hopelessly overmatched. However, this week I have heard the words that any first year law student dreams of: "well argued". No matter that this compliment was quickly followed by reference to two or three cases that I failed to mention. I still experience the same feeling of relief as I walk out of Mr Mirfield's room that I felt after my first "tute". The rest of the day is a blur but I do remember stopping into the College bar to share my feelings of relief with Mr Fosters and Mr Guinness.
Friday and Saturday until 5:00 pm: Two lectures in the morning that kindly remind me that while my week five tutorial is now complete the next one is less than a week away. Two solid days of training with the Blues including a trip to London to race in the 4's head, another rowing substitute for hell, a twenty minute race along the Boat Race course. A chance to take a crack at the enemy, Cambridge. This was my second visit into London and Buffy and I decided to stay for the afternoon on Saturday to see some sights and then take the train back. Everything really is only an hour away from Oxford.
Saturday Night: The evening began at the Oxford Blue, a really cosy little pub off the Iffley Road for all those who share in a common despisal of Cambridge and love of anything in which Oxford proves to more competent than Cambridge. The rowing team played host to the hockey girls, the tennis girls, and the gymnastics girls. Yes, it is worth getting up at 6:30 am. Then off to the Bridge nightclub for dancing and the occasional beverage until closing, 3:00 am.
Sunday 8:00 am: As I struggle into my gear for football with the team, I must confess that I am experiencing the "blues". However, these are not unique to fifth week, only to Sunday mornings after a night on the town in Oxford.