Balliol Clock

Having been through my first year at Oxford, here are some of my thoughts about it.

Urgency and importance

Over time I’ve realised a lot of urgent matters aren’t important.

For example, problem sheets are usually very urgent and one may be tempted to try to complete them in full. Yet ultimately understanding the material is far more significant. If you don’t fully understand the material dealt to you this week, you would struggle to have a grasp of next week’s material, not to mention doing problem sheets.

As such, I’ve found it’s often more worthwhile to spend more time thinking through the material instead of working through some tedious calculations in problem sheets’ questions or stressing out about some arithmetic mistakes. Of course, exercise is important, but you can always do that later in the holidays / when you no longer need to learn new material.

It was also important to identify what mistakes are important. Did I perform badly in collections because of revision issues (phew, at least I now know what to revise for prelims), arithmetic errors (phew, practise more) or conceptual issues? (which takes a lot more time to fix) These types of mistakes could lose me roughly the same number of marks, yet one is far more significant than the others. The same logic goes for problem sheets.

Weekly structure

Over time I really enjoyed how neatly Oxford terms are separated into weeks. Every term is 8 weeks, Christmas and Easter vacations are 6 weeks each and all the lectures/classes/tutorials/deadlines are fixed on certain weekdays. It gave each term a lot more structure and made planning ahead far easier. Separating a year into weeks was never something I appreciated before, but nowadays it really gives me a clear structure of my degree / my life even.

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