Letter To: My Oxford friends

Deep into the long vac, Annie reflects on her first year friendships

My dear friends from university,

I am in Oxford this month for a summer job, working with a group of Japanese university students as I help them explore this town. By giving tours and showing people around the famous landmarks of Oxford, I have only really now come to appreciate how lucky we are to study in such a unique place. I finally have the opportunity to truly appreciate its fascinating history, something that is rarely possible in the dynamic, but hectic, routine of student life here.

However, all the same, these aren’t the reasons I enjoyed first year so much. It wasn’t the stone buildings or the legacy behind them, but it was you. I’m staying in college, in fact in the same building we lived in last year. I’ve caught myself recalling my happiest memories in the most mundane and supposedly unremarkable places. I think about our vomit-green corridors, whose mysterious odour still confuses me to this day, and the McDonalds that we somehow ended up in after many an eventful night out… That these memories mean more to me than any iconic tourist attraction just shows how much of a role you’ve played in my life so far.

As we go about our separate paths this summer, these meaningful interactions have largely been put on pause. Many of us are in different countries, seeing new faces and having very different experiences. This may hypothetically mean that we are growing apart as people. If we originally bonded over shared experiences, does this then mean that we become more distant from one another as these experiences start to vary?

I believe that as long as the summer vacation may seem, especially since we saw each other everyday at university, it has the potential to cement our friendship and take it to the next level. The summer vacation is a time to unwind from the pressures of constant academic work, and to, quite frankly, get a reality check. I continue to stand by saying that Oxford is a wonderful place to study, but it is nevertheless a bubble that is largely removed from the real world. Although the shorter vacations fulfil a similar purpose, the summer vacation is long enough to allow us to completely tune into a new rhythm of life that reminds you that you’re part of a world beyond Oxford. In this sense, the summer provides us with a time to truly reflect on both the past year and the friendships we have made.

We are already one year closer to finishing our degrees and being thrown into the big wide world. It is comforting to know that I’ll see you all again in October to start second year, as more mature, well-rounded and better informed individuals. Here’s to our friendship for the coming year, and many more!

Love,

Annie