Summer is (better: should) be here. This is (should) be the perfect time for garden partys and balls in Oxford. My college had a ball in February and it was good fun already back then. However, the fact that you can actually use the college quads during this season to socialise, dance and eat makes it even more fun. Photos here are taken from the wonderful Balliol MCR Garden Party last weekend.
The dresscode is usually “Black Tie”, although sometimes only “smart casual”. For the really fancy balls, everyone even wears “White Tie”, that is with a (mostly hired I think) tailcoat including white gloves and bowler hat. It basically feels like you are thrown back into the 1920s (<= note how I am avoiding the “Downton Abbey” analogy here).
Balls are usually quite expensive, ranging between 90 and up to 200 pounds. However, you are given unlimited food and drinks. Every ball and garden party has a photo booth, that’s a classic. Others offer laser tag and other fun stuff like for example auto scooters. Obviously, a number of dancefloors, live bands and “silent disco” are essential to a great ball as well.
Silent Disco, everyone dancing to their own choice of music (indicated by the colour of the headphones here)
Quite emblematic of the sheer limitless creativity of ball committees (and competitiveness concerning other balls) is be the example of Sommerville College. Aiming at delivering a night of ‘decadence, debauchery and indulgence’, the ball committee initially sought to get a shark in a bowl until their principal stepped in.
Two weeks until this year’s MJur/BCL class have to take its first Oxford exam. Needless to say, the entire procedure is set to be stuffed with Oxford traditions and peculiarities.
First, students have to take exams in the subfusc (see my earlier post about matriculation). This means we have to wear suit and bow tie plus gown. This, however, is only mandatory for crossing the threshold of the examination schools. Tie etc. can be taken off when sitting down but have to be put on again when leaving the premises. Unlike some fellow students who are on the hunt for pyjama pants that resemble suit pants, I am quite optimistic about the dress code: Maybe, by making me feel important, it induces important thoughts in turn? Given that the weather is turning really warm in the next weeks (and have always felt important so far anyway), this is rather unlikely.
Second, students have to wear a white gilly-flower for their first exam, pink ones in their second and third, and a red one for their final one. Since I love the smell of flowers, this could be a real game changer as regards exam enjoyment.
Third, for your last exam, your friends are picking you up to “trash you”, that is they will put funny things (confetti, shaving cream..) on your head and maybe throw you into the river.
One of the hottest topics in Oxfod cafés and pubs at the moment is of course the upcoming referendum on the UK’s membership in the European Union. It is impossible to underestimate the importance of this decision as regards the European Project’s further development. After all, the UK is not only a huge economic, but also a political and cultural force in Europe.
I doubt that there are many other places where the impact of the European integration and its importance for our generation can be felt more than in Oxford. Although a lot of the foreign study body comprises US citizens, people from all over Europe study and live together. Among the postgrads, 21.7% are from non-UK EU countries.
Oxford is a hub for European excellence. As a lawyer, one can only wonder what would happen to the influence and expertise the law faculty currently holds in European Union law. Funnily enough, the exam on EU Law will take place some days after the Brexit Vote, possibly rendering it a legal historic paper.
The media does its part to influence elections (to be fair, also for the other side, e.g. the Financial Times arguing for Remain).
As a prospective applicant from the European, you should keep your fingers crossed. If the “Leave” campaign actually wins, chances are that your tuition fees will rise to the level of non-EU members.