As a maths student I have dealt with my fair share of limits. I have proved that if f(x) tends to b as x tends to a then g(f(x)) tends to g(b) as x tends to a. I’m 100% serious as well, this is the result of an (awful in my opinion) area of mathematics called analysis, but most of you won’t care at all about my opinions on analysis.
At university you are always pushed to find your limits, by pushing hard you can find what you are actually capable. One thing I have noticed at Oxford is that I feel constantly like I am being pushed to (or over) my limits. During the intense eight weeks terms I often think that I don’t really like working on the very edge of my abilities as it usually results in a lot of stressful hours in the library. However just as quickly as I talk about my dislike for it I realise that I am actually very grateful for this way of working.
I don’t think that Oxford’s way of working suits everyone and I think that Oxford is very good at selecting students who will work very well in their high jam-packed terms. I do believe that this method of working is what helps you in the long run to become significantly better at your chosen subject. By knowing nothing about what is ahead of you, at least in my heavily biased opinions, helps to create better thinkers; if you know nothing about where you should go it makes you think more about what you have already covered to a deeper level.
This is what the interviews at Oxford (and Cambridge) are all about, they don’t care what you already know about your subject (within reason) but more about how you respond to coming across something you don’t know. You can’t simply give up every time you reach the limit of your knowledge because if you did that you’d just be a considerably larger baby who can’t walk or talk. Failure is a natural part of all this. You can’t just expect to go for the correct route every single time.
In all your aspects of life where you want to improve you need to find your limits but then expand them, if you’re staying comfortably within your limits you can’t expect to exceed expectations, all you’re doing is ensuring that you’re doing well at something you already knew you were doing well. A football striker who can pass expertly but can’t shoot will never be a better striker by practising more on passing, they will spend more time at training on shooting.
As you can probably guess I am a student at Oxford University, and at Oxford one thing that is very weird is that we have almost a whole language just to communicate with other Oxford students. We have very regimented 8 week terms with everything being laid out according to this system “deadline is Tuesday of fourth week”, “tutorials will be on even Mondays at 3pm” which makes life very easy to navigate; I haven’t needed to know the date since I got back here.
One thing that does worryingly strike me is that we have the phrase “fifth week blues”. This refers to the fact that everyone gets considerably sadder in fifth week, this is probably partly due to the fact that Oxford does not do reading weeks. Other universities will have a reading week around about five weeks into the term at least for some subjects allowing students to catch up on work/reading or visit friends and family.
I worry about a university in which the students have a term for when everyone gets sadder as I think that it highlights an issue in Oxford’s care for students. However I think that everybody is able to get through it through a mixture of reluctance to admit failure, and the incredible welfare system that we have available. I think the system can vary from college to college but on the whole most students have welfare officers, college parents, peer supporters and subject mentors. These people are invaluable and their efforts make lives feel so much better.
As much as we often complain about fifth week, it has become something that inevitably helps you to work harder, as you try to stay on top amidst the essay crises. Although, I doubt that I’ll miss it when I’ve left uni.
Across my life my opinions of football fans has changed. I used to believe that football fans used to think of themselves as a large family who may support different teams but ultimately they’re all a large part of some weirdly dysfunctional family. Today as I write this it is valentine’s day and so far Liverpool have rather humiliated Aston Villa and Arsenal have pulled themselves back into the title race, which they will inevitably throw away over the coming months.
I am a prolific twitter user over at @DBizzle97 and I saw the Match of the day twitter account ask for some Valentine’s themed replies and so I returned
Roses are red,
Violets are purple,
My love will never die,
For You Mesut Özil.
I felt very honoured when @BBCMOTD retweeted it within seconds as I expected it to be lost amidst a sea of considerably better jokes and roses are red-style poems. Initially I was overjoyed with this tweet doing very successfully apparently being viewed on over 80,000 people’s timelines which for a boy with 118 followers, most of who may not even use twitter any longer, was utterly baffling.
However this joy was short lived, as very quickly people wanted to let their voice be heard. I tweeted at 10:29am and so was retweeted at the latest at 10:30am by @BBCMOTD and by 10:33 I had my first (of five) tweets calling me a “nonce”; for those of you not au fait with British slang nonce is a slang term for a paedophile. This to me symbolises everything that is wrong with the football community because as a bisexual football fan I like to think that football is a more accepting community.
One was especially ridiculous as they likened me to the (now former) Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson who recently pleaded guilty to one count of sexual activity including kissing with a fifteen year old girl. This is very worrying as people still see the LGBT+ community as inherently predatory.
One very famous statistic is that there has never been an openly LGBT+ footballer in the premier league and with rumours of two possible players coming out the way that supporters talk about these issues will inevitably shape the entirety of LGBT people within sports. I used to believe that if and when footballers came out that the main source of controversy would be from other players in the dressing rooms rather than from supporters but I managed to have homophobic abuse tweeted at me for just making what I thought was just a harmless little joke.
I hope that as time moves on these people will become more tolerant, but they are most importantly becoming a minority they just shout a lot louder than those that accept people. But if you’re closeted whether a football fan or not you are not predatory you are absolutely fine just as you are whether you know what you are or not, you are always valid.