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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notes from 2nd week

It is yet again that time in my life where, when I am asked how I am, I simply do not have an adequate answer to give that doesn’t involve a sigh of some kind. It is the intensity of workload of Finals, but without the same permission to shut myself off from the world and stop taking calls and emails entirely. I am still currently in the stage of half-hoping, half-believing that this dissertation will write itself. Bills mount up, important messages go unanswered, and still I am only at the very beginning stages of what needs to be completed in about three weeks. 

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notes from 5th week (ht)

This is once again an extremely sparse post, as I spent most of last week writing like a demon. By Friday evening, thanks to some truly great motivational pep talks from my best friends, and not without incident, I had finished the 7000-word draft and sprinted down to Hertford to hand it in. (Welcome to Oxford, where things are still handed in physically.)

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notes from 3rd week (ht)

I’m in the “writing hell” stage of term, in which I attempt to produce 7000 words in a week and a half. Last week was the “planning hell” stage. All of this means I’m writing a lot less than before, and I hope that’s okay. After forcing myself to write and only succeeding in producing rubbish, I have discovered that it is much better only to write when I feel so inclined, as I do not enjoy producing rubbish. Continue reading

notes from 1st week (ht)


Am at home today – could not quite bring myself to brave the incessant rain and complete lack of anything even passing for daylight. I didn’t realise until writing up the last blog post the extent to which my mood is tied to the weather – I did, of course, know there was a strong link, but it was almost shocking to see how cheerful I was during the sunny part of the week and how quickly that nosedived when the rain set in. Continue reading

notes from 0th week (ht)

I realised last term that my old blog system wasn’t suited to my needs any more. I’ve adapted the morning pages system to suit my needs, so below is an edited set of excerpts from my daily entries from the last week. It’s a very different kind of writing from my Finals posts, as it’s stream of consciousness in many ways, with run-on sentences and a bathetic combination of general thought and everyday minutiae. I’m not writing for any particular audience, just for myself, and editing out the portions that are meant to remain unseen. 

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Oxford Interviews: An Updated Guide

Hi everyone,

As the invitations to MML interviews have been coming out this week, I’ve been receiving lots of questions about them, so I thought I’d make a new blogpost about the experience and what you can do to prepare. There’s some MML-specific advice in here, but the rest is just general. I’m going to add the regular disclaimer that this is all my personal opinion, that every interview is slightly different, that experiences differ between subjects, tutors and colleges, and please not to sue me if what I say doesn’t match up with your experience. Thank you. I have also included some of my friends’ top tips for interviews, so keep reading! Continue reading

MT 0/1: False Starts and Keeping Your Cool

My dear long-neglected readers!

As you will have gathered by now, I began my Masters course in Golden Age Spanish as an Ertegun Scholar at the beginning of October, which means that the First Week of term has just come to an end. Many of you will have read my Finals posts, and I do want to continue blogging the rest of my time at Oxford, as my undergraduate degree flew past and I have relatively few distinct memories from that time. I may well continue in the same format, telling you about my week and what I got up to and how I found it, but today’s post is a little different. Continue reading