Oxford Diaries 4: MT1 and Fresher’s Flu

With the start of any new stage of my life – January 1st, a new school year, my birthday – I am always eager to pick up a Superhero Routine. Not saving cities, but being one of those irritating mythical beasts who rises at 5 AM to go jogging, who has self-imposed 8 hour work days even on weekends, and eats many green things besides arugula.

Of course, I am not one of those people. My brain is foggy if I wake up before 8:45. My body also really, really wasn’t made for running, thanks to two hip surgeries and countless ankle injuries. The only spinach-broccoli smoothie I have ever tried was absolutely horrid.

10687112_10152801338720757_2486359000090240466_nMmm. Green.

But every time I try, I do get a little bit closer. Last semester, I would go jogging three times a week at 8:00. I started papers a week before the due date. This year, surely, would be even better.

Haha! No.

I’ve had some sort of virus for the past week, and spent all of Friday in bed, drinking tea and feeling sorry for myself. They call it “Fresher’s Flu” – living in a building with 200 new people isn’t great for a foreign immune system. And I can’t seem to identify cold remedies in the supermarket (all the brand names are different! Where are the Vitamin C drops?), so I’m just sort of waiting it out. Not the strongest start to the first week of term.


I’m now in the thick of Michaelmas Term week one. I had my first tutorial on Tuesday, and have two next week. Three papers every two weeks is new for me, and even without receiving grades (lucky visiting student that I am), I still find it stressful. Talking with a top scholar about something you’ve only been teaching yourself since Wednesday is a little intimidating, though I am very excited to do it.

What I’m also really enjoying is access to lectures. Lectures are optional, but students are encouraged to attend them to supplement their tutorials. There are dozens of lecture series in every field, on subjects like (for me) the origins of Rabbinic Judaism, characters of the Reformation, or the psychology of religion. I feel so lucky.

Also a little overwhelmed. But mostly lucky.


Being at Oxford really is a dream come true for me. Going through the songs on my iPhone a few days ago, I found a podcast called “Is Oxford for me?” that I downloaded when I was sixteen, though I never applied in the end. I am jealous of students doing their whole degree at Oxford, because I’m so happy here. Much, much happier than I was in my first year at my home institution.

But there is no room for regret in my life. Instead, I want to make the most out of this great opportunity and try new things every day. So even though I’m not setting up a Superhero Routine just yet, I have been making spaces for myself in this new city. Like the café where I have a cappuccino and croissant (arguably my #1 vice) a few times a week.


Or my favorite library study-spot, where I am now writing this blog post.

-4This is actually not the library I’m talking about, because being explicit about your location on the internet is scary.

Or friends and choir rehearsals and formal dinners at my college.

Or lectures and dinner invitations and mornings spent at the covered market.

So even when I am sick, even when I am stressed, even when I want to spend all morning in bed, I will not give in. I will keep appreciating. Because it is such a gift to be here, and I’ll be darned if I let it slip by.

DSC_0160 2Flowers and tea at my bedroom window.

Sara Laughed

Hey hey! I'm Sara, an American writer living in the Netherlands and working as a product manager.

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