- Arts & Literature
- Science & Technology
By Catherine Edwards
Get all your work done early
Yes, we all know that one person who hands in all their work days in advance, is the apple of your tutor’s eye, and manages to juggle a billion extra-curricular commitments on top of it. But these people are in fact wizards. You are not, so get ready for another term of hastily cobbled together essays and wondering if Wikipedia counts as secondary reading (as long as your tutor doesn’t notice, the answer is yes. Yes it does).
‘Make the most’ of your Union membership
You’ve probably got to the point in your Oxford career where it’s crossed your mind that signing up to a debating society for the bargain price of around £200 may not have been the bright idea it first seemed. Never mind, you’re determined to make the most of a bad situation, and going to lots and lots of Union events is the way to do it. Or is it? The majority of these events will involve either sitting through long debates, often so dull as to cause physical pain, or, on the occasions when there’s actually a worthwhile speaker there, sacrificing your whole evening to a queue in which you are surrounded by hacks. It’s best just to cut your losses and never speak of the Union again.
Never drink/go out again ever
Wait, this sounds familiar… Oh that’s right, it’s the same thing you’ve said the morning after every club night of Michaelmas, upon realisation of your horribly misjudged actions the night before, be it the irreparable damage to your liver, or just the decision to go to Bridge. You may have overdone it on New Year’s Eve, and resolved never to let alcohol ruin your life again. An admirable goal, but there’s no need to cut it out altogether – it’s been scientifically proven that, in moderation, alcohol is good for you. The same is true of the Park End cheese floor (probably).
Take up rowing
Ahhh, is there anything more pleasant than a 6:30 awakening, followed by a leisurely row down the Isis as your lycra onesie glistens in the morning sun? Yes. Quite literally, anything. If you’ve not crossed to the dark, boatie side by this stage in the year, just face the fact that you’re not one of them and never will be, and feel a smug sense of non-rowing pride.
Become a culinary genius
Turning your student kitchen into the backdrop for your very own cookery masterpieces probably seems like a great idea to anyone who’s over-indulged this holiday – either on the food or the Christmas food TV specials. As long as you’re not such a disaster in the kitchen that this is going to put others at risk of food poisoning or debris from microwave explosions, this is fine – but you are a student after all, which means it’s also completely acceptable to count a kebab or an entire pack of biscuits as a complete meal, once in a while.
Switch E4 for BBC Four
Do you start feeling wrong and unclean every time you watch the latest episode of Made in Chelsea? You might think that the best way to cut out your bad TV habits is to go cold turkey and switch to high class documentaries about the history of the A303 and the science behind the perfect cup of tea, but, you’ll be pleased to hear, this is not necessary. To avoid the trashy TV withdrawal symptoms of shaking and sweats, you should ease yourself off with the methadone that is Downton.
(For Arts students) Wake up early
This year will be the start of a new, early-rising productive way of life, you’ve decided – if others can be up at the crack of dawn every day, why can’t you? The answer is of course simple – you don’t have to. Scientists and rowers have made their bed, and now they must lie in it. And you are equally justified in staying in yours for the entire morning.
Give up Facebook
If you’re fed up with the affliction that is having to impulsively check Facebook every 45 seconds then you may consider giving it up for 2013. However, this isn’t as easy as you may think. Psychologists say that the thrill of clicking that little globe with a red box is caused by a hit of dopamine similar to what you’d get after shooting up on heroin or crack. This makes going offline a painful experience. And as if that compelling medical advice wasn’t enough, more and more of our real lives seem to rely on Facebook – how else would you find out about the latest all important JCR meeting?
…And some you probably should:
Make a budget
Oh hello, student loan. It’s tempting to spend it all on things you really desperately need (by which I mean all the reduced Christmas chocolates everywhere, plus everything in the ASOS sale. It’s just saving money, right?), but who knows, maybe working out how much money you have for the term and how best to spend it before splurging your first week budget on crap will turn out to be a better strategy in the long run.
Stop leaving your room unlocked
If you are at all attached to your room and possessions in their current state – i.e. not completely rearranged or covered in newspaper/cups of water, this is pretty sound advice. Also, those Facebook statuses about being ‘totes lashed lolz’ seem both inventive and hilarious to your housemates…less so to your extended family, who have amassed just the right level of social networking expertise to be able to see such statuses (and, incidentally, all your bop photos), but not to understand the concept of a ‘frape’.
If, on the other hand, you’ve installed the strictest of privacy settings on Facebook in order to shield your parents from your life at university, they might appreciate the occasional phonecall to reassure them that you are still alive. This also provides a great opportunity to mention that, what with the worsening economy and the student debt crisis and all, you are struggling to find the money to eat properly. Your parents are bound to be so delighted to hear the sound of your voice that they’ll send over a hamper of home-baked goods in no time. Well, you can always dream.
Break the Oxford bubble
In a similar vein, it’s nice to remind yourself of the real, non-essay-filled world out there. Arranging to go home or visit friends at another uni for a weekend is a perfect remedy to mid-term stress, and might make you appreciate Oxford more on your return; or if you really would rather stay here, at least venture out of your college every so often and see some of the things the city has to offer.
Prepare for the future
“Why do you want to work with our company?”, “What is your primary networking strength?”, “If you were any kind of marine mammal, what would you be and why?”
The application forms for internships are designed to be as ridiculously off-putting as possible. However, sooner or later you should bite the bullet and do your best to sell your soul to the financial services devil. Sure, you have no intention of ever working for any of these recession causing, paper-pushing, life-destroying organisations but your CV is as empty as Jim Davidson’s work diary and you don’t want to spend the next seven years washing your roommate’s Bentley.
Try something new
You may have found it enough of a struggle throughout Michaelmas to fit in sleep, a degree and a social life (hint: you can’t) but you’re a pro now, so why not try a new society or club or something? A 2011 University of Glasgow study claimed that activities ‘from reading to trainspotting’ can improve you mental and physical health. Just not rowing. Please.