Profile: Alexander Walker
Alexander is in his second year studying Maths at Univ and comes from Blackpool. He is also one of the two Hall and Accommodation Officers alongside Theresa Martlmüller (2020, PPE).
How did you come to Univ?
I didn’t actually apply to Univ. I was assigned a second college interview at Univ, and was accepted here. This was quite lucky as, after doing a UNIQ summer school here during sixth form, Univ was high on my list and after a year here, I’ve fallen in love with Univ: I can’t imagine being anywhere else! From the extremely welcoming atmosphere and the helpful student community to the brilliant library team and friendly porters, Univ doesn’t really have any weaknesses other than, perhaps, the occasional confusion caused by the name. And of course, the life-size, very nude, very dead statue of Percy Shelley gives you something to write home about.
Do you think you’ve changed since you started at Univ?
Yes, certainly. I’ve faced real challenges from adjusting to the Oxford workload to living with the pandemic restrictions, as well as living more independently. All of this has led to me organising myself differently, becoming more confident, and my appetite has grown a lot! I’ve also been able to meet loads of new people, and I’ve developed new perspectives. I’ve also taken up archery, which I enjoy greatly.
How has coronavirus affected your work and life?
I think my work at least has been less affected than some students. While being unable to go to lectures is disappointing and online tutorials can be a little harder to follow, most of the recorded lectures have been good, and the tutors here at Univ have done a fantastic job despite the shifting restrictions. I can’t deny that the long summer in lockdown before last year made for a rougher start, and spending Hilary term at home was very frustrating. I had to adjust to different ways of working and motivating myself. When I couldn’t physically go to a library or lecture, I had to come up with new ways of separating work and life. Without anywhere to go, forcing myself to get up and go for a walk was very important for both my physical and mental health. The biggest impact was on the social side of things. With sports not operating for a lot of the year, and most societies being forced to reduce their activities and hold what they can online, it was a lot harder to engage with either of them. While I still managed to make new friends and meet people last year, it was hard. I am very much looking forward to next year in the hope that things will be better on that front.
What do you do as Hall and Accommodation Officer? What are the most fun aspects of the role?
As one of two Hall and Accommodation Officers, I am firstly a point of contact for members of the JCR to raise any issues they’re having regarding food and hall or accommodation and bring them to the attention of the relevant College staff. Additionally, we organise the balloting process of assigning accommodation for next year to JCR members. This includes making sure people are as informed as to their options as much as possible, as well as communicating information about how the ballot works and then carrying out the process for each year. We also arrange several formals throughout the year, including Halfway Hall for second years. I believe halfway hall is typically the most fun to organise, though the Christmas formals are a close second, and we have some great ideas for this coming year! However, at least for me, carrying out the ballots looks like it will be fun in its own way.
Do you have any advice for prospective students?
One thing to look out for when choosing a college is how the food in Hall is organised. At Univ, for example, you only end up paying for the meals you eat whereas, at some other colleges, they run a contract system where you sign up for a whole term and pay a season ticket for meals whether you eat them or not. In general, however, differences between colleges are not huge and most people end up loving their college. Interviews are best viewed as talking to someone who loves your subject as much as you, remember to enjoy it!
Do you have any advice for freshers arriving in October?
Bring (or buy once you get here) an extension lead! Particularly in some of the older rooms in college, plug sockets can be scarce and awkwardly located. Bring a little something to make your room feel personal. Pictures or posters are common items, but anything works from your rock collection to a favourite mug. In general, though, don’t worry too much about your room as all the rooms in college are pretty good. Being nervous is normal and will soon give way to excitement!
Describe Univ in three words.
Friendly, welcoming, laid-back.
Published: 6 September 2021