This Monday, the second years had a big dinner and celebration called “Halfway Hall.” It marks the halfway point in their academic career. Although I am not a second year, this same week marks my halfway point at Oxford. I am halfway through my second term, and that is seriously scary. If anything, my first reaction was to panic a bit. The first term I was just settling in, and let time slip away because a year seemed like quite a long time. Now that my days seem more numbered, I feel more pressure to fulfill my goals of seeing all of Oxford and the United Kingdom, going to every library, making the most of my access to mainland Europe, and soaking up British culture. I truly do love it here, and that might also be why the halfway point seems all the more startling. However, in a strange way it is also comforting. Before I left, all everyone could talk about was how long a year was and how everything would change. So far, that has not been the case; my Georgetown friends are as close as ever, and the time has flown by.
Hilary term has definitely been more serious and work heavy for me. Since I know Oxford well now and have a good routine, I have been immersing myself in finding the little niches of the school and branching out a bit. For example, I have been going to the formal dinners at other colleges on invitation by some of my British friends, and it is cool to see the diversity of the dining halls and students cultures. Also, there are around forty libraries that are open to all undergraduates out of the over one hundred that exist. I have been trying to go to two different ones a week, and it has been very rewarding. It has made me realize libraries are hiding everywhere in Oxford – from the top floor of museums to behind cafes to inside churches… my quest for libraries has taken me to all parts of the town. There is nothing like finally a new library in Oxford, sensing the hush, and walking in and seeing the true scholarship being achieved by people of all ages and backgrounds.
This term I have two essays a week compared to one like last term, as well as decided to start learning French at the Oxford Language Centre (note the spelling of center). Since students cannot study languages unless that is their undergraduate major, the university provides a center with classes as an extracurricular activity that you take for a couple hours a week (no grades) independent of your courses and degree. I have missed taking a language and it has been fun to be in a class so diverse; it includes PhD, undergrad, and masters students studying all sorts of things.
Overall I have definitely found this term to be the most intellectually fulfilling and challenging thus far, and much more enjoyable and productive since I know what I am doing! Some things ahead include my lacrosse team’s varsity match against Cambridge, more travels on my next six-week break, and studying for the LSAT. The Halfway Hall was a reminder of sorts to always appreciate every day, because for me they are numbered.