My Univ: Clare Burgess
Starting a new course, in a new city, during the uncertainty of 2020 was more than a little nerve-wracking. I knew, as I walked into my room overlooking Merton Street, that I’d be spending a large proportion of the next year in that exact space. I was worried – how would I make friends, get to know the city, experience college life, when there were so many restrictions? I won’t pretend I haven’t missed out on any experiences, but I know now that there was actually nothing to worry about. It turns out that my window onto Merton Street was also the perfect window into university and college life, and through it I have been able to experience so many moments that made me smile.
Admittedly, the ruckus of the early morning lorries has not been amongst those moments, but there have been plenty of others. There’s my flatmate grinning and pulling faces at me on his way to labs, just to make me smile; then there’s the not-infrequent tap tap tap of my other flatmate when he, inevitably, forgets his keys again. There was the welcome sight of a mutual acquaintance turned close friend bringing me an advent calendar as a seasonal gift, or the somewhat off-key vocal stylings of a particular group who like to walk past singing (my favourites so far have been Dancing Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody, if only for the sheer enthusiasm). There have been welcome moments of relief when a delivery driver arrives with my well-earned post-hand in takeaway, or the camaraderie of conversations held through the open window. There was the joy of watching the first snowfall of winter, and the odd comfort of recognising faces from online socials and classes as they walked past and waved hello. There is, of course, a never-ending parade of dogs to distract me from my work, and the occasional student celebrating the end of exams is always nice to see.
My first year at Oxford may not have been truly normal, but I think that from my spot at my desk, with a mug of tea in hand and a biscuit never too far away, I’ve been able to experience some of what normality at Oxford, and at Univ, really means. Even when standard operating procedures resume and I’m able to wholeheartedly participate in life beyond the Teams call, I think I’ll always retain a certain fondness for my view of Merton Street. After all, it was this view that made me fall in love with the place, made me want to stay for another three years, and which has given me so many fond memories.
Clare Burgess (2020, MSt History), Welfare, Diversity and Equality Officers
Published: 16 June 2021