Student Blogs

Tutorials, Nabokov, Activities, and Tea.

October 15th, 2011 etmasi13

I’ve officially hit the two week mark! It’s unbelievable. I feel like I’ve already been here for a month. It’s been a little crazy this past week; I handed in my first tutorial essay and had my first tutorial session this week and the process leading up to it was a little overwhelming. I’m learning very quickly that Oxford has a very different style of teaching; I absolutely knew what to expect going into this and the one-on-one experience is why I applied to this incredible place. I also knew there would be a lot of independant work and that I’d have to be responsible for my own time here. Check and check. I guess what I didn’t expect was that we have to teach all of the material to ourselves before we meet with our tutor. We have to read primary and secondary texts, teach ourselves the topic, and write critical 1,000-2,000 word papers. And then go over everything with our tutors in a one-hour session.

Basically, my first tutorial was yesterday, Friday morning. But in order to be prepared for that tutorial, I had to read a Nabokov novel and lengthy excerpts from 6 secondary sources, plus write a 1,500 word essay on it. So I’m not going to lie, it was a little overwhelming to spend my first real week here after Fresher’s Week in the library– a library in which I couldn’t check out my secondary sources, no less! I felt a little cooped up. And I was also at a loss as to half of what my secnodary texts were arguing– cosmic synchronization? inverted plot structures? HELP.

But here’s the great news. I have a feeling that I’m gonna get into a groove. The first week I was adjusting to this learning envrionment and now I feel like I have a grip on it. My first tutorial session was great– it was filled with excellent discussion, re-affirmed why I’m so in love with Vladimir Nabokov’s writing (he’s so morbid and brilliant and warped and complex anddd I’ll stop now), and I also feel as though my self-esteem about my writing boosted. Not to mention, I figured out just which sections of the library I like and can visit so I don’t feel so cooped up. I contact my friends when I want to take a tea break at the incredible garden cafe in front of the Radcliffe Camera (I’m talking a pot of chai tea, sugar cubes, and a hot scone & cream. A slice of heaven- check out the pic to the right). I go to lunch and dinner at Mansfield Hall to see friendly, familiar faces. And I participate in the clubs and activities that keep me balanced.

For example, this week I went to my first community service session at a local primary school. I’ll be spending the year working with two children–Amelia and Isaac–and teaching them creative writing skills. The end of the year culminates in their work being published in a children’s magazine for the school. So up my alley. Not to mention, these sweet, well-behaved, british-accented kids absolutely melted my heart. It was taking a 2 hour break in the afternoon from working on my first paper that made me feel more at home here and more fulfilled. I’m looking forard to a few more activities including, working on the student newspaper, the literary magazine, volunteering at events for kids with disabilities, hopefully getting involved at the animal rights center, and–come mid-November–rowing. (Oh and I might just force myself to try one football practice. It might be worth shot! And I’m sure I can give all the players a good laugh when I kick the air instead of the ball).

Alright, well, I’m off to read my next Nabokov novel, Bend Sinister (it looks goooood!), and to writing the first 10 pages of my novel (AH!) due Tuesday. Before I go- I promised a picture of me in my silly commoner’s gowns for formal dinners at Mansfield hall!

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