The end is nigh: Wisdom gained among the dreaming spires

You might be wondering why you haven’t heard from me lately. The answer is simple: Oxford has sucked out my soul, put it in a blender and returned it to me as humourless soup in a leaky paper bag. Melodrama aside, I have been working pretty flat out, and somehow creativity has ended up on the back burner. So, in a sudden and alarming bout of heroism, I’m going to fight the system and assert my rights by doing a couple of posts DURING FINALS TERM (*dramatic music*). 

And so continues the slow descent into finals madness. It would be both tragic and untrue to claim that I haven’t had any fun since Christmas, but it’s probably fair to say that learning in many forms has taken precedence over literally everything else. Much as I’m sure you’d like to share in the tiny amount of knowledge of Rabelais that I’ve managed to retain since second year, I’ll be writing quite enough about him in the near future so, instead, here are a few newly reinforced truths about Oxford life.

Coursework is like having a baby. I think. I don’t care to verify this in the near future.

Symptoms include weight gain, late nights, losing contact with any friends who aren’t in the same hellish position as you, and a painful final push to extract the finished product. This term, alongside my eight tutorial essays, I’ve been doing the one piece of coursework that actually counts for my degree – the mystical beast that is the Extended Essay. As anyone who’s spoken to me in the last year will know, it’s been hanging over for me for a very long time, and at long last it’s been definitively slain.

This (incl. floor) is my workspace towards the late stages. In case you're interested, the essay is on poetry in translation.

This (incl. floor) is my workspace towards the late stages. In case you’re interested, the essay is on poetry in translation.

I really, really don’t care what people think of me any more.

This is probably the product both of a year of being judged by all of French society, and of no longer knowing anyone (except other finals-addled fourth years) in college. Examples of recent badassery include smuggling tea into the library multiple times per day, and bringing an actual blanket to complete the look.

Dinosaurs make everything better.

I bought six dinosaur figurines and they’ve been brightening up the fourth-year section of the library no end. As coping mechanisms go, it’s relatively harmless, right? You may spot my new mascot Thor in one of two of the following pictures…

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The lesser spotted dwarf T-rex in its natural habitat

Dinosaur (and other) impressions also make everything better.

Despite everything, I found time to host my brother Duncan and cousin Elliot, during which time I produced a masterful and incisive series of photos in the Natural History museum. I’m still waiting for the national press to pick up on them.

IMG_20150228_154441 IMG_20150228_154727

The overly mobile face is apparently a trait that runs in the Lyster family.

The overly mobile face is apparently a trait that runs in the Lyster family.

I am more susceptible to the charms of caffeine than I ever thought.

The strain of fitting in sleep, work and some semblance of a normal human life tends to ramp up towards the end of term, and my coffee intake (previously approx. 0) has been steadily on the increase. I’m currently on a mini-detox because I was on a slow but sure trajectory to requiring an intrevenous caffeine drip in my exams.

The college bar does the best millionaire's shortbread in the world, a fact that is largely responsible for me not having dropped out of uni yet.

The college bar does the best millionaire’s shortbread in the world, a fact that is largely responsible for me not having dropped out of uni yet.

And also a pretty good cappucino.

And also a pretty good cappucino.

I am old. 

Also, the Careers service is something I should have used while I actually had time to do so. I’ve just done the Springboard programme (‘holistic personal development for undergraduate women’) which, while not as radically life-changing as the blurb suggested, was interesting and really good fun, and also had an admirably cake-based lunch buffet. Incidentally, I was described by a fellow springboarder as ‘outgoing and confident’ – if that’s not proof that the year abroad is transformative, I don’t know what is. However, meeting a lot of other students in a short space of time made me hyperaware of the fact that ‘Wow’ is not necessarily the response you want when you say what year you’re in.

Oxford is really pretty.

I have a lot of problems with Oxford as a university and culture (which may or may not be aired in a future post) but, on a sunny day, you can’t fault it for looks. Here are a few snaps from when Susi dropped by for the tour.

Magdalen college (which is surprisingly easy to sneak into)Magdalen again

Magdalen college (which is surprisingly easy to sneak into)

The rooftops

The gardeners are magic and can literally make anything grow at any time.

Somerville quad – the gardeners are magic and can literally make anything grow.

Somerville quad with ancient, fossilized creatures and toy dinosaurs.

Somerville quad with ancient, fossilized creatures. And toy dinosaurs.

The Radcliffe Camera

The Radcliffe Camera

I’ve missed writing things other than essays. 

This is something I intend to rectify as far as is possible given the ridiculous amount of stuff I need to drill into my brain over the next couple of months. I’m doing NaPoWriMo again, and I might put the most readable products of it on here at some point, but if you really can’t wait I also have a slightly less selective Tumblr (linguistlyster.tumblr.com). There also may be some resentful cartoons at some point, but I’m not making any promises. Happy Easter to all, and to all a good night.

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6 thoughts on “The end is nigh: Wisdom gained among the dreaming spires

  1. We didn’t expect any Anglophone blogs in the run up to your finals but I am glad to see that you have lost none of your wit in the deluge of knowledge.
    I always knew the dinosaurs hadn’t died out – don’t suppose you have seen Bonnie’s pterodactyl, have you?

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  2. I can’t believe the four years has gone by so quickly Rowan! Thinking of you lots, and hope you can find time to enjoy your last term in between the library stints… Lots of love Liz xxx

    Sent from my iPad

    >

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  3. Dear Rowan, Thankyou so much for your blog…always interesting and entertaining…and such clever photos! Keep me posted… and don’t work TOO hard. Thinking of you. Much love, Grandma xx

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