Profile: Anneka Pink
Anneka is in her final year studying Classics at Univ. She was Deputy Editor at The Isis last year and continues to write for various student publications. She also represents Univ on the Classics Undergraduate Committee and is part of UCBC. Last term, she was Marketing Director for New College Classical Drama Society’s performance of Electra, and this term she is an editor for Oxford’s Classics undergraduate journal, Alexandria.
How have you changed since walking through Univ’s doors for the first time?
Studying at Univ has been a great educational privilege, and I hope to have made the most of its opportunities. In particular, the people and tutorial system have allowed me to grow both academically and personally. The emphasis from the tutors on intellectual individualism has helped me develop the confidence to think critically, assemble arguments from the evidence myself, and express my own views, both in essays and in my general approach to life.
Why did you choose to study Classics?
The best thing about the Classics course is how interdisciplinary it is. As well as literature, you can study linguistics, philosophy, history, art, and archaeology, across a huge chronological and geographical landscape. I firmly believe that we cannot understand the present without the past and really enjoy studying different political systems in Classics. Recently, I took a module on the Roman Republic, which followed the system’s collapse into autocratic imperial rule due to ambition, fear and political violence. For me, that is a cautionary tale that continues to echo throughout history. Though I frequently get Latin and Greek wrong, I love translation too. When the words of the sentence finally fit together, it feels like you’ve just completed a jigsaw.
I think I found Classics when I read Percy Jackson as a child and fell in love with Greek mythology. I was quite an adventurous child and always liked a hero story – English was my favourite subject at school. When I was in the sixth form I read the Iliad, an ancient poem about the Trojan war and thought it was completely, utterly beautiful and tragic. It has some of the best imagery ever written and is a crucial frame for many subsequent writers. I am particularly interested in the translation, re-interpretation and adaption of Classical literature since antiquity, so in a way going back to the foundations with Classics made sense to me. The Iliad will probably remain my favourite book ever.
Do you have any advice for settling into Oxford?
My very wise mother advised me to invite my neighbours for a cup of tea in the first week. She wasn’t wrong, and 3 years later, my first-year next door neighbours remain some of my closest friends. During term, we still have a coffee together in someone’s room most days. The truth is, everyone’s as nervous as you, and sometimes you have to put yourself out there first!
Take part in College life. University can be overwhelming at first. College is a smaller, friendly community where faces soon become familiar. There are few things this college loves more than brunch, and eating in hall is a great way to bump into other people in your year. There are lots of college sports clubs and societies to get involved with too. Though at school, I was morally opposed to being forced to run laps around a pitch, I learnt to row at Univ and regularly play for Univ’s Netball team (currently battling for glory in the 4th division). Rowing is super fun in the summer when we have the big inter-college rowing races (Eights) and a great way to meet other people in college.
Do you have any advice for prospective students?
Choose a subject you love. This is the most important part of the application process! If you don’t want to study your subject, how will you convince the tutors you do? Follow your interests and use your personal statement to help you organise your thoughts about your subject. Practice building an argument, explaining and defending your points, and adapting it when you are given new information. This is the key test of the interviews, and really a simulation of the debate that happens in tutorials between you, your tute partner and your tutor! Also, a friend has a youtube channel (sabrinatheclassicist) where she talks about Classics specific admissions advice – definitely worth checking out.
What do you do outside your degree?
When not in Univ Old Library (my favourite library…), I can almost certainly be found invading a friend’s room for a cup of coffee and gossip, or at The Isis magazine’s office. Following in the footsteps of my favourite writers (Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Sylvia Plath…) I started student journalism at Oxford at the end of my first year as an editor on Cherwell (one of the University’s student newspapers) and haven’t looked back since.
Last year, I was Deputy Editor at The Isis, the University’s historic literary cultural review, where I ran the paper’s Marketing & Events and Fiction. Raising the print budget through organising and running a term card of events is probably one of the achievements I am most proud of, and I’ll always remember the 25+ hours we spent in the office on lay-in weekend copy-editing the magazine to send off to the printers. After that, I ran the Features team, as part of which I got to interview one of my favourite authors, the current Bodleian Librarian Richard Ovenden. Still recovering from how amazing that was. His book, A History of Knowledge Under Attack, is a must read and a timely call for the preservation of open knowledge. I love working with writers to get their pieces ready for print and have met so many wonderful friends through The Isis, so I’m still there five terms later! This term, the magazine is themed A Few Words For The Firing Squad, inspired by a piece written in the magazine in 1968 about the student protests in Paris, known as May ’68. I can’t wait.
Apart from The Isis, I represent Univ on the Classics Undergraduate Committee and row all year round. Last term, I was Marketing Director for New College Classical Drama Society’s performance of Electra, and this term I have joined Oxford’s Classics Undergraduate Journal, Alexandria, as an Editor. Most importantly though, I spend a lot of time with my friends. I never miss brunch.
If you’re interested in getting involved in student journalism, I definitely recommend checking out the websites of the different publications.
Describe Univ in three words.
Friends for life!
Published: 30 October 2023