Profile: Charlie Perry
Charlie is studying Chemistry at Univ in his second year of the four year course. He was one of the two JCR Welfare Reps at Univ for 2019-2020, a key part of the welfare system, and talks about welfare during lockdown and how converting to Islam has changed his university experience.
How did you come to Univ?
I didn’t actually apply for Univ, I applied to St. Catz (St Catherine’s College), but thankfully I had an interview here too and I’m so glad Univ accepted me. If you’re thinking of applying to Oxford for a Maths/Science degree, Univ is a great college to choose as we have “Maths week” before Freshers’ week. This means you can get back into a problem-solving mindset while also settling into Oxford before the business of Freshers’ week and term ensues. From a chemistry point of view, I would recommend being comfortable with your A-Level material before interviews, and when writing your personal statement don’t be afraid of really showing your passion for chemistry.
Have you found studying Chemistry at university different to what you expected?
I wasn’t too sure what to expect from studying chemistry at Uni; it has been amazing yet really challenging and stressful at times. The lab work you do here is awesome. As students you have access to state-of-the-art lab equipment and teaching, and you get the chance to make some awesome materials and compounds, completely independently. I never envisaged to learn so much about chemistry as I have done, and I still have a lot more learning to go, and I love hearing the phrase: “we still don’t know why this is at the moment” in lectures, showing that what you’re learning is on the frontier of chemical knowledge.
What does being Welfare Rep involve?
Being the Welfare Rep at Univ this year has been amazing, yet very busy at times. It involves holding and organising events at college that aim to benefit and/or spread awareness/discuss mental health. We also hold regular meetings with the College staff, discussing how we can help improve the wellbeing of students and staff here at Univ. Whether it be trying to make facilities available/improve them, or trying to spot patterns in the general mental health of the student body here, and mitigating the stages where there is more concern. Moreover, as welfare reps we act as a port-of-call for any Univ student to come and have a confidential chat with us about any issues they may be experiencing while here in Oxford.
What’s your favourite part of being Welfare Rep?
My favourite part of being Welfare Rep has been listening to people open up about their mental health. Being able to listen and talk through certain things with someone is amazing. Moreover, my favourite event this year has been the Boys* night in we held in Wellbeing Week. To have many young men come together and just have a casual chat about how everything has been going was so cool to see and experience.
How do you think you’ve changed since stepping through Univ’s doors for the first time?
I have changed in many ways since coming to uni. I have matured a great deal in my attitude and approach to certain ideas and concepts, while also remaining the same “me”. I have grown more independent and comfortable in myself, and coming to uni has allowed me the time, independence, and space to really explore my religion which ultimately led to converting to Islam in second year, which has been perhaps the biggest change to my way of life since first coming to Univ.
How has reverting changed your experience of university?
I think reverting has changed my experience in many ways. Not-drinking being a fairly big factor as for many people and groups of friends it is seen as “central” to the Uni experience, and when in a big group and not drinking you do stand out, especially coming from a background of drinking myself. Managing that has been a challenge but once you’ve done it a few times it does get easier. Trying to manage prayer as well within the hectic work week has been fun but challenging: leaving labs at lunch to go to the prayer room, going via the prayer room on way to meeting friends in the town as well. It has helped provide some structure to my weeks too, working around prayer times rather than trying to “fit everything in” has been quite freeing but difficult at the start. Largely, it has changed my university experience by simply adapting to this new way of life, with the challenges and benefits that come from it.
Do you have any welfare tips for life in lockdown?
Personally I have two main tips that have helped in lockdown. The first is to build a routine or a “semi-routine”. This can be as simple as waking up at around the same time each day, and aiming to go to bed around the same time, add/subtract an hour or so. Moreover, having some ideas of how you’re going to start your morning as you’re going to sleep, e.g. having a coffee with family/watching tv/shower/emails etc. The second tip is to limit screen-time and be mindful of the time you spend on your phone, especially with social media. Just taking the 15 minutes that you would have been on your phone to do some chores/emails/tidy room/admin can really help, just by removing the mental space that the emails/admin were occupying before.
Do you have a favourite Univ moment?
I don’t know if I have a favourite Univ moment so far, but my favourite Univ aspect is the people I have met here. I have met some truly outstanding people here and made some lifelong friends.
Describe Univ in three words.
Welcoming, hard-working, fun.
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