Profile: Uri Shine
Uri is one of Univ JCR’s two welfare reps and is in his second year studying Psychology and Philosophy.
Why did you apply to Univ for Psychology and Philosophy?
As it happens, I originally applied to Univ for experimental psychology. Growing up with an autistic cousin, I wanted to understand more about autism and how best to support autistic people. I went on to become interested in understanding the causes and treatments for different mental health conditions. Early on in my studies I decided to include philosophy since I began to appreciate the value in answering questions relating to morality: whether there is a right or wrong way to act, along with fundamental questions about the nature of the world including whether or not there is a god and what if anything makes people fundamentally different from animals. I applied to Univ because it is central, known to be friendly, and I had a good friend studying at Univ in the year above.
How have you changed since walking through Univ’s doors for the first time?
I imagine that I have changed quite a bit. I think I am better at getting things done. Having to balance positions on society committees, being a welfare rep, and my work, has forced me to practice making decisions, planning events, and as I said, generally getting things done. I would also say I have also become a better listener. Peer support training is all about listening. In addition, listening and trying to understand concepts are also fundamental parts of the process of learning.
I have also discovered more about what I enjoy doing and thinking about. One area that I have developed a strong interest in since joining Univ is practical ethics, thinking about the morality of abortion, euthanasia, having kids, and eating meat. I have also become fascinated by the fact that psychedelic medicines such as psylocibin, LSD, and DMT seem to greatly improve people’s mental health when taken in a controlled context, and I am really enjoying pursuing that interest through my research project.
What does being Welfare Rep in a pandemic involve?
Unfortunately, the mental health crisis seems only to have worsened over the pandemic. Being a welfare rep over the last year has involved urging people to make use of some of the valuable welfare resources that are available in college and at the university. This includes the peer supporters, welfare staff, councillors, and online resources. Being Welfare Rep in a pandemic also involves a lot of Zoom, since most of the events we put on were online. It also involves many risk assessments. Thanks to COVID, when we put on an event we need to fill out a long form about how to mitigate all the potential risks that could come about due to COVID.
Has anything about the Oxford University experience surprised you?
I find it incredible how much my experience at Oxford changes each term. In particular, I have found that some of my relationships with others seem to develop and change quite a bit each term. I also find it surprising how quickly I seem to adjust to living and studying in Oxford considering how different it is to my life back home.
What is the greatest challenge you have faced?
One of the most difficult things about Oxford seems to be creating a healthy work-life balance. What I have found and still find difficult at times is making sure to look after my physical health. A fair amount of the socialising that goes on in Oxford involves drinking alcohol, whether it is going to a pub or a club, or just drinking with mates in college. In psychology, I have studied the association between drinking alcohol and bad mental health, and how in particular, drinking negatively affects the quality of one’s sleep. At times I have felt a social pressure to drink to feel part of the group. One way in which I have coped with this pressure is to find and make friends with people who don’t often drink alcohol. Societies have been a great way for me to find other likeminded individuals with similar interests to me. I have also come to enjoy going out with mates to the pub even without drinking alcohol myself. Finally, making sure to do regular exercise and eat a healthy, clean diet has helped me feel energised and able to cope with the demands of studying at Oxford.
Do you have any favourite Univ moments?
I really enjoy all the music-centred events. One enjoyable memory I have is taking part in the Master’s Lodgings concert where students come to perform. Similarly, open mic nights have been a highlight. The vibe at these events is warm and friendly, where all students are encouraged to perform and express themselves and are appreciated for sharing their music.
Describe Univ in three words.
A supportive, friendly, community.
Published: 14 June 2021