I am sorry if what I have posted up until now didn't make a lot of sense. And that I didn't post anything in a loooong time. I WILL try to rectify that right now, (okay, also my last procrastinating excuse.. )
So let's start with a regular day at Keble. I get up at around and about 8.15 AM and have a quick shower before I get ready to leave for my lectures. Since Science students tend to have morning lectures always starting at 9 AM (which is the case in my situation) I have no possibility to lie in at all.. Sometimes quite obvious I didn't have a lot of time and my hair's still wet -when I forget/don't want to bother Simon with borrowing his hair dryer- . The wetness doesn't ever come from the weather though, it has hardly rained at all! (fingers-crossed)
Morning chat with my biomeds while crossing the most dangerous road in the whole of Oxford, each time uncertain if we reach the opposite side. These life-threatening situations are my shots of adrenaline and keep me awake for a good lecture or 2.
The lecture buildings are very close to Keble, so I can't be bothered to bike there (which wouldn't be very sociable as well =P) and in between lectures we can easily go back to Keble and relax our brains a little. The lectures themselves can be really intense, with loads of information at a very high speed and loads of diagrams flashing in front of your eyes. Most of the time I have approximately 3 of those a day. Sometimes they can be very long-winding and seem never ending, while others are gone in a minute (2 explanations: 1. the lecturer was enthusiastic and funny 2. I was asleep) The teaching skills between lecturers varies enormously. Luckily, the neuroscience lecturers tend to be the best =)
During the lecture we basically watch a powerpoint presentation which we also get on a hand-out, and the idea is that we make notes on that hand-out for ourselves. You're NOT supposed to ask questions, unless it is urgent. In that case you can see the lecturer at the end or e-mail him/her. It is actually expected that if you don't understand a concept, you figure it out by reading about it or discussing with the other biomeds. Tutorials offer the opportunity to get help from an expert in it's needed.
Depending on the day, I might have a tutorial (happens 2-3 times a week) or practicals (once a week) a math class (fridays.. ooh so difficult to sit through) or an afternoon off (once a week). The only thing we are obliged to attend are the practicals and the math class. The rest is said to be optional, since arts and linguists don't do much else besides that (and the rest is self-study, they are not lazy!) (okay, some of them are..) but science people are really supposed to attend everything.
Tutorials demand a lot of preparation if done correctly. The main teaching method is essay writing. The tutor gives you an essay title and then it's up to you to figure out what it's about and how to answer the question. I've got at least 2 of those a week, next to the rest I do. That's probably the hardest part of my course for me, since a scientific essay is NOT easy to write at all.. But I will get there (I hope?) My tutors are insanely nice and funny, so the tutorials are actually quite fun and good. Those moments I learn the most. I have 4 different tutors, each covering an area of my course in which they are experts in. At the moment Simon Butt, is my favourite one. He's doing neuroscience, relatively young and was a Keble student himself! Next to being very smart, he has a very good way of conveying his knowledge in a comprehensible way and is very funny and relaxed =)
Practicals are great fun, but tend to take up ages of my time.. Until now I have compared proteins between cow blood and human blood, measured glucose levels like a diabetic, electrocuted myself to stimulate a twitch in my hand(weirdest feiling you can imagine. doesn't hurt, but feels highly uncomfortable!)
Math class is a bit weird. It's not very effective in my opinion, since it's a postgrad physics student who needs to help 8 biomeds. He's very nice, but a bit of a geek. It's lots of fun, we get bribed in doing our best by getting chocolate awards for the best graphs or similar things.
I should be going over my lecture notes in between as well, and do some background reading to prepare for lectures, but I am procrastinating that till the holidays. I simply have no clue where I could find the time to do that.
So that was the academic part of Oxford life. Then, while going from place to place, you keep on running into friends and chatting all along. It really is a community on its own, a college. There is a society for everything, so if you do have some spare time you can always join anything you want to try. I have joined the Dancesport Society, already briefly mentioned, but not had time to really make use of it. Also, I am part of the Music society, so that I am allowed to practice on the Grand Piano in a fantastich music room. I love doing that, and probably play more piano than I did at home. I also performed at both recitals here, played Arabesques (Debussy) and Nocturne no. 2 (Chopin) Next to that, I play squash against members from other colleges in a competition.
Every night there are lots of social activities going on. Not necessarily organised, but always very nice. Night activities can range from going clubbing till really late to stressing majorly about that essay that needs to be finished in a few hours. It varies a lot, and your day schedule is bound to change every hour. Flexibility is, next to time management, an essential skill I noticed. Both need improvement ..
Well, I hope this cleared up a little what I am actually doing around here. At least I feel very much at ease (want to say at home) and I cannot think of anywhere else I would have preferred to go to. I will try to give more information at more regular intervals, but I really want to get some sleep now!
xx Marielle xx