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Oxford
jekaliho
...it can make you or break you.

Make:
This was a wonderful weekend of haphazard occurrences which exemplify many of my points:

1) Went to Oxford Literary Festival. Oxford has many festivals, talks and self-improving events. Attending is fun, pushing yourself to lead is better. During the science festival I helped out with schools liaison activities where I have to be far more outgoing than the quite, contented only-child figure I can recede into. Warwick had many amazing events too but not with as many non-students taking part to remind you that there's more to life than being in your late teens/ early twenties!

2) The festival took place in Christchurch Meadows, Later on I chilled out in the sunshine at Vaults and Gardens with Laura. Both of these places offered fantastic architectural and verdant settings, perfect for hope, happiness and inspiration to set in.

3) There was free gin and whisky at Christchurch, which I followed up with sugary awesomeness at a chocolate festival on Broad Street. Oxford does do food and drink very well. I actually think the university spends too much money on it - I'd rather have cheaper/ more accessible sports facilities but anything enriching is welcome. I did play football today which wore me out far more than most other sports so maybe I should concentrate on simple running around anyway

4) I went to college and analysed some results, forming some great graphs to see my science. Visualising what I'm doing and seeing trends come through is what ultimately makes the PhD exciting (initially it's the fiddling around with equipment, which maybe I love too much and often use as a procrastination tool). Anyway, I actually felt useful and able for once :)

5) India won the cricket world cup, leading to a parade from Uni Club to Cornmarket. Serendipitously I was meeting Elva and Sam in Broad Street at the time so we joined in the fun! "World cup hamara hai" (world cup is ours) was being chanted all around and we continued the joy all the way to dinner at an Indian restaurant. Any excuse for a party and Oxford has plenty what with all the college bops that take place.

6) Starting my Saturday with one Slovakian and one Hong Kongese, I finished it with my materials girlfriend and her boyfriend, with a filling of college friends, other materials friends, friends of friends and (sadly) former friends that I bumped into/ chatted at length with/ celebrated with/ listed to the music of/ glanced at. It's really easy to get to know people here, same as with any other uni if you are willing to venture out of your room, but I'll never take the university experience and the social richness to which I'm exposed for granted.


Break:

1) I haven't used my journal for a while. For various reasons, it was just getting a drag but my life was brilliant without too much technology. Then facebook came along, which warped my mind and enticed me in. Bad thing. Anyway, I also had James. I was enjoying my life loads. I also wrote a non-online travel diary which put me off constant writing for months. Anyway, Oxford changed me. Travelling changed me. Oxford changed the things James and I do, we became less free it seemed. We had to fit into a new culture. When employers ask how I deal with change the honest answer will always be, "optimistically but terribly as I gain more and more layers of life to try and maintain". On the surface I can fit into new situations fairly well and often enjoy myself in the process. However at the end of it I'm never the person I was at the start and that can bring misery when trying to fit in with former routines. On the upside, any change now will surely mean less chance of a mid-life crisis!

2) I love my PhD topic but it can bring lots of stress! I often feel inadequate and, although I make progress, I wonder if it's ever as fast as it should be? Maybe I spend too much time thinking about other things, e.g.
a. It took me ages to work out how a Mobius strip cut in half around its perimeter would still be a continuous strip. This was whilst lying in bed almost asleep. I had to test it physically for me to understand, despite having watched Wind and Mr. Ug (youtube it) that very day.
b. If I wanted to give everyone in the world a passport-sized photo of Petos eating something (I realised I have at least two applicable photos) then, lined up from Oxford to San Francisco, they would form a band of 1-2m breadth.
c. How can I improve my muscle strength? I found out that there’s a 16 year old weightlifter who can lift a bar a few kg heavier than me! My absolute limit is 25kg and then I’m bent double. My 22kg San Fran bag often took a few attempts to lift to back height!
d. How much work could I do in the time it takes me to write a journal entry?

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