A short introduction to the town of Oxford and all its weird charms.
Name: Matthew Ingram
University: New College Oxford
City/Country: Oxford, UK
Oxford is an extremely unique place, and by unique I do mean weird. It is a perfectly normal occurrence to be in the pub and be adjacent to a group of people discussing political theory of armed contact on one side, and others regaling the beauty of the quantum dot on the other. It’s a city (and university) with a whole bunch of crazy and fairly pointless traditions, which every year accepts a few thousand students who get to spend their next 3 or 4 years trying to work out what on earth is up with this place.
Oxford is the epitome of a bubble, a cross between being stuck in a time-warp and being an extra in Harry Potter (even more so now that Emma Watson is studying here), where one can quite happily believe that very little happens in the world aside from the course you are doing and the student politics of the university. But beyond all of this weirdness, it is a beautiful place to live and an amazing place to study. Life in Oxford is a little (ok, maybe a lot) different to other universities, with each college being like a little family of weird and eccentric people. Everyone in college knows each other and so gossip is rife, but it also means that there is always someone to bump into and distract you. In fact, it seems almost impossible to walk from college to town without bumping into people you know, making a quick trip to the shops a much longer affair than anyone wanted (although it makes avoiding work much much easier!)
The city has a long love affair with sandstone; the stuff is everywhere, to the extent that after some time here, one can be completely nonchalant when seeing any of the massive gothic colleges, dismissing them in the same way that semi-detached houses aren’t particularly exciting. In my 4 years here, this is the first time I have lived in a building less than 300 years old. But, that doesn’t seem strange to me now, nor do college bops, nor standard drunken fancy dress parties that take place in the college bar (a 500 year old cellar!). The whole town is the kind of place where the history is so visible everywhere that it becomes really easy to completely overlook it.
In addition to the beautiful architecture and oodles of history, Oxford is also a hotbed of music and the arts, with a great range of music (bands like Radiohead, Supergrass, Stornaway, The Foals, and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs all hail from Oxford), theatre, and art. Both the university and the town itself boasts of those and it has a swathe of cool museums and art galleries. Sometimes, if the town is very well behaved, the two mix; earlier in the year, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs played a gig in the Ashmolean Museum (very cool). It’s things like this that make it a truly wonderful place to live and work.
So enough about the town, lets move on to me! I am a fourth year chemist, so I spend a lot of time working on my research project. However, I am also involved in Oxford Hub, a student charity organization which acts a central point for all sorts of charity work and volunteering in Oxford. Fear not, I will spare you all a longer spiel about how amazing chemistry is (it will be saved for a future article so watch this space!).
Camera wise I have a Diana F+ which I use for both 35mm film and 120mm film. I also have access to an Exakta (VX 2b, I think), courtesy of a friend of mine Ioana, and a Miranda MS 1 (although this one is pending repair) courtesy of my girlfriend.