If I’ve learnt anything from my two years at Oxford, it’s that I’m completely incapable of working in my room in college. Every week I try to convince myself that it’s possible, but there’s just too many distractions – Netflix, snacks, and my bed in the corner trying to persuade me to take a nap rather than finish my Hebrew translations. I’m also really good at avoiding writing essays by convincing myself to do other ‘useful’ tasks like tidying my room, organising my email inbox or, if I’m really desperate, sorting out my kitchen cupboard. Luckily, there are lots of different places to work around Oxford which make sure that my essays are actually handed in on time.
Oxford has an endless list of libraries, and my Bod Card lets me access any of them – so I can work anywhere from the Bodleian to the Radcliffe Science Library. If I’m feeling too lazy to endure a whole five minute walk to the faculty library, I’ll work in my college library which has its own Theology section with most of the major works on different topics. If I can force myself to cross the road, I like to work in the Philosophy and Theology Faculty Library, which has most of the books on my reading lists, or the Hebrew and Jewish Studies library, which is always almost empty and very quiet so is good if I really need to concentrate.
I’m a morning person so I generally start working quite early, which means that coffee is an essential part of my study routine. Oxford has so many coffee shops - my favourite is Green’s on St Giles because they’ll let me hide in a corner with a cup of coffee for hours and have great cakes to reward myself with when I finish an essay. If I’m feeling unmotivated, I find that going to get coffee and work with friends helps me get things done, probably because I see them getting things done which makes me feel like I should be working too. Now that the weather is nicer, working outside is great if I feel like I’ve spent too much time inside the library – the college gardens and University Parks are both pretty places to sit with a book or to clear my head when I’ve been staring at the draft of an essay for too long.
Having to organise my own time has definitely been the biggest learning curve I’ve experienced at Oxford, especially because I don’t have many contact hours compared to other subjects. I find that moving around and having some variety in my work environment really helps me stay motivated and stops me having to stay up late and rush to meet deadlines every week (although this definitely still happens occasionally!).