Don Quixote of La Mancha, in Cologne, of…Islington North?

It is always fascinating observing people’s reactions when I explain the subject of my Masters’ thesis. Most people have at least heard of Cervantes’ Quixote (even if they object to the odd Oxonian spelling and pronunciation, preferring the more widespread Quijote), or at the very least have used the word quixotic before. What does that word actually mean? Let’s take a look at the Oxford English Dictionary: Continue reading

Oxford students give advice to their younger selves

This may be one of the most important posts I’ve ever put together.

I recently received an email from an offer-holder asking me what advice I had for someone in their position: what would I tell a fresher, or indeed my 18-year-old self, if I had the chance? Not, by any stretch, an easy question to answer. I do have my own pieces of advice to give, but I also turned to the many, many wonderful Oxford students and graduates in my life, some of whom I know personally, others of whom I share online spaces with, and asked them the same question. And goodness, did they deliver! Below, a collection of funny, honest, timeless advice from people who have been through the Oxford experience and are all the wiser for it. We make mistakes so you don’t have to.

If you find this post helpful, please let me know in the comments, and please share this post with the people you know who are also hoping to start university soon!

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Applying to Oxford: History and Modern Languages

Hello, and welcome to our new guest series on the blog: applying to Oxford for various subjects. There will be a guest contributor every day writing about their personal experience of applying to Oxford for their own subject.

Today’s post is written by Lara, who is currently reading History and Spanish at Hertford. This post is also a little different to the other posts we’ve had – as there is already information in previous posts about applying for History and for MML, this post is shorter and concentrates more on what sets History and MML apart from other degrees.

For more information about applying for History and sitting the HAT, click here.

For more information about applying for Modern Languages in a Joint School, click here.

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The Final(s) Weeks

*Zayn voice* Hey, what’s up – it’s been a while…

If you used to read my “10.5 Weeks” series and wondered what happened to the last 2.5 weeks, wonder no more. It’s been a long time coming, but if you were curious to know how the last weeks of my degree were, this post is for you! It’s a long one, so grab a snack and a cup of tea!

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Week 4: Translation, Tension & Trinity Term

Surprise! I bet you didn’t expect another post this early, did you? Sadly, it’s rather more out of necessity than zeal – it’s the start of Trinity Term, meaning my exams start on Monday and continue throughout the week, so I won’t be able to put together a post during the early part of the week like I normally do. Monday at 4 is German speaking, Tuesday at 10.15 is Spanish speaking, Wednesday at 9.30 is Spanish listening and Thursday at 9.30 is German listening. In between, I still need to revise literature, so it’s going to be a tiring week. Continue reading

Oxford Interviews for Modern Languages

It’s that time of year again and questions are flooding in about preparing for Oxbridge interviews to read Modern and Mediaeval Languages. Below is a slightly edited account of my own interviews for German and Spanish at Magdalen which I had originally posted about a year ago on The Student Room. My experience is of course not representative of anyone else’s or Oxford as a whole, given that every interview is a highly personal process that varies from applicant to applicant, subject to subject, year to year, tutor to tutor, and college to college. That said, I feel Modern Languages is misunderstood as a discipline and under-represented in interview guides, so I thought I would share my experience and advice in case it helps anyone.

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Blue Summer – Sonnet No. 1 (Prelude)


There is a rough black box shaped just like you-
Smartly fitting your folds and corners:
Deep shining maple body.
This long slender noble neck that
Gracefully touches your proud wide stern
Smooth and gleaming, play needs just a touch.
I watch the sweep of you through your narrow centre bouts
My hands on your Cs, thumbs tracing your perfect F.
Supple, wooden beauty, craftmanship pure
An earthy laugh vibrating your tightly-held strings.
Let me cup you, let me kiss your long, long
languid jut of a bottom bout, fluidly peaking in a single point:
The rest is still and solid- my cello- my muse- but your eyes-
Your eyes are two brown swallows, at any moment due to fly.

Blue Summer – Anaphora


Johann times eight on to shut you out
Wooden suite vanquish the screeches
Shackling myself away from the simplest plan
Blue sheets ready to incarcerate you between their checks
Thirsty, dirty, music parasite
Double cream on to mask my hollow
Sweet repetition to force me into a circle.

Enough! enough anaphora, enough on the walls of my head
Enough anaphora. time to shut you out.