Course: BA Modern Languages - First Year (undergraduate four-year course)
From: Carmarthen - Ysgol Gyfun Bro Myrddin
Living in: Main College
Monday: This week’s essay in Spanish is on a long poem by Antonio Machado. I dedicated this morning to working my way through the story version of the poem in the library at Jesus, before going to a language tutorial in Lincoln College. I have three tutorials a week; one for Spanish translation, one for Spanish literature and one for Celtic literature. I like having one of my tutors at a different college as it means that I get to mix with people from outside Jesus on a regular basis, and it’s also just across the street.
After that, I went with a friend to the covered market for a coffee break, made a quick stop at the Taylor Institution Library (which is for medieval and modern languages and linguistics) to collect some books for the afternoon, and then went to Hall at Jesus to have lunch. I spent the afternoon reading through some of the critical material for the essay, and in the evening a friend of mine, who rows for one of the teams in the Jesus College Boat Club, had invited us to the launch of the summer boat race between the colleges called Summer VIIIs.
Tuesday: I began this morning as I endeavor to begin each one – but don’t always succeed – by reading at least one article on the Spanish newspaper El País’s website, and spending half an hour or so doing ‘admin’ – a term to try and make answering emails and organizing the day and the week ahead sat on a chair in my pyjamas sound important and civilized.
This term, I have one lecture a week, and that’s where I went at 12pm. This time, the lecture consisted of a very interesting man in purple trousers talking to around of a hundred of us Spanish first years about the ballad form. However, just before that I had a grammar class in the Language Centre at 10.30am. The rest of the day went in finishing preparing my essay and planning it ready to be written the following day.
Wednesday: I got up nice and early today, as Wednesdays are one of the busiest days of the week. I started by writing the essay I had been preparing for the last two days. Then I had a Celtic tutorial in which we discussed an Old Irish tale that I had written an essay about the previous weekend. Although the language is completely new for me this year, it has gotten easier, and more or less the same skills apply for all languages and analyses of any literature when it comes to writing an essay, so I really enjoyed the tutorial.
After finishing there (these normally go on for a bit more than the allocated hour, since we talk about a lot of language-related things that aren’t directly to do with the topic of the tutorial), I rushed back to College for a Welsh grammar class at 12pm.
That busy period meant that I missed food in Hall and so I had a late working-lunch in my room, putting the finishing touches to my essay in order to email it to my tutor by 4pm – all of my work is sent by email.
The manic timetable settles down after I’ve sent my work, and so I have time to have a little tea break in my friend’s room. After dinner I went over to St. Peter’s College to rehearse with my band.
Thursday: Tomorrow is Mayday – a strange pagan tradition that is widely celebrated in Oxford and is lots of fun. However, as one of the traditions of this celebration is to stay up all night and sing straight after dawn, this means that I have to get a lot of work done today so that I can take it easy tomorrow. This meant getting all my translations done in the morning – I have two to do every week – and then getting started with next week’s essay in Celtic, which will be on two twentieth-century Welsh poems.
I had time off in the afternoon though as the College choir, of which I am a member, had a rehearsal – we rehearse twice a week; once on a Thursday afternoon, and then on a Sunday afternoon just before we sing in the weekly service in chapel. I enjoy going to the rehearsals since it’s a great place to catch up with friends, and although it’s a non-auditioning choir, meaning that there’s lots of fun and joking to be had, the standard is very high.
Friday: I have a Spanish oral class every other Friday, but that’s all I have on Fridays, meaning that this week I had the day completely free of any contact hours. However, it was May Day and so having stayed up all night to celebrate (most pubs and bars were open all night), gone to listen to Magdalen College choir sing at dawn, and sung in my college’s own May Day service in second quad, I was understandably tired. Completely contrary to the norm, I slept for a few hours that morning, before making sure I got up in time for lunch.
In the afternoon I split my time between working on the Celtic essay, and reading through my favourite poetry anthologies in order to find some poems to read in the first meeting of the newly founded Jesus College Poetry Society down in the College bar. It turned out to be a great success, and much more popular than I expected it to be, so hopefully there’ll be many more to come.
Saturday: I spent a few hours this morning in the Radcliffe Camera learning vocabulary and revising Old Irish grammar, as it is a library that I like to work in if I have things to learn – it’s also pretty, and very close to Jesus College. Apart from that, I didn’t do much work. Just before lunch I had a meeting with the a theatre review group who I’ll be going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with in the summer, as we are organizing an event later during term to promote our trip to the Festival. After a long lunch break I made my way over to the Exam Schools where my Spanish tutor was holding a Q&A session in the Modern Languages Open Day, so my tutorial partner and I went along to answer questions from a student perspective.
Saturday evening, I stayed in, and a few of us watched some telly in my friend’s room – by which I mean, browsing various iPlayers until we found something we all wanted to watch.
Sunday: Although Sunday morning is less work-related for most, I had to more or less finish my essay for Celtic as it’s due in on Monday, and because after brunch (which is perhaps the weekend’s highlight), I have only a few hours before choir rehearsal. We rehearse for an hour and a half before evensong (the Chapel’s Sunday evening service), and then afterwards, we, as choir members, can go to Second Hall for free. Second Hall is what we call the second sitting for dinner, which is generally a bit more formal, and although no formal dress is required, I wear a shirt and tie because of the choir’s Sunday dress code. By the time that’s finished, I’m quite sleepy and so I go back to my room, and try to have a relatively early night.