Student Blog: The Good Place

WesleySometimes I forget I go to *the* Oxford University everyone is always talking about. Even after two terms, living and studying here feels surreal. Admittedly, making it here was always part of the plan but that does not mean I had no worries before actually coming. Are the tutors really that mean? What if I don’t fit in? Did I really have to book all my meals the day before? Of course, none of these fears materialised, and arriving in Oxford started (possibly) the best period of my life so far.

Sitting in my room just after my parents had unpacked for me, I couldn’t bring myself to go down to the JCR (Student Common Room) and begin meeting people. Once I actually did go, I wondered why I hadn’t sooner. The collegiate system meant I could socialise in a small, unintimidating environment perfect for bonding with soon-to-be best friends. Being at the friendliest college certainly has its advantages. By the end of my first night, I knew that I had definitely made the right choice with Brasenose. Before coming, I had expected my days to consist of aesthetic study dates straight out of Pinterest, interrupted by the occasional bop or ball. I definitely didn’t think Brasenose would be as vibrant and social as it has turned out to be. I could never have imagined I would be at the bar long enough to hear Riptide multiple times a week!

Getting involved in activities outside of college has been almost as big a part of life as what goes on inside college. I don’t think I’ve successfully made it through a conversation with someone new without mentioning that I’ve taken up gymnastics, for example. You would expect the high academic workload to prevent something so time-intensive but as I quickly discovered, a good schedule solves all problems. Especially during Hilary Term (our spring term), I have enjoyed going to events run by a wide range of societies. I was even able to get more involved with activities inside college by becoming a Racial and Ethnic Minorities rep and maintaining my 100% B.O.P (Big Organised Parties - college socials) attendance rate.

One thing I’ve really appreciated is how central Brasenose is. No event worth going to is more than a ten-minute walk away from college. Even more important than this is the amount of green space in the centre, useful for regular gossip study sessions. When friends at unnamed distant colleges complain of their arduous treks to Cornmarket Street, I can’t help but think about what a good choice I made.

After reading all of this, it may come as a shock that I have a degree to study for as well. I always knew I wanted to study something containing politics, and the moment I discovered PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) I knew I had to study it. Narrowing down academic choices was anathema to me – I had refused to choose between History and Geography at GCSE and ended up taking four A-Levels for much the same reason. A-Level Politics was by far my favourite subject, but I would always think of the missing economic context for the content we studied. I was initially less sure about philosophy – before applying my knowledge extended little beyond Hegel and certain postmodern French philosophers I referred to in English classes. Thinking back now, this lack of knowledge should not have discouraged me – it provides space for new perspectives and thinking on existing ideas!

I knew that by choosing PPE I would be able to enjoy reading, writing and using mathematical skills to answer the questions I find most important. The list of alumni has certainly given the subject a (possibly unfair) reputation for producing unsympathetic career politicians but as with any other subject, there are many who do not fit this stereotype and I have made great friends within my subject as well.

The workload does take some getting used to, and for much of the term it feels like I’m constantly writing and not actually understanding anything. This is what makes tutorials all the more refreshing, as I discover I actually *have* learned something and I get to ask all the burning questions raised by my reading and by the lectures. Without them my notes would definitely not be as useful as they are now. It also helps that tutorials help tutors to get to know you both academically and personally, which makes asking questions that extra bit easier!

It's odd to think I only have eight weeks left of being a first year. So much has changed, and I’ve made so many great memories. It feels both like I arrived just yesterday but also as if I’ve been here for years. There really is no place like Brasenose.

Wesley Akum-Ojong, first-year PPEist (formerly at Watford Grammar School for Boys)

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