Orientations

2005-09-29

in Daily updates, Oxford

The Manor Road Building

Hollis, Martin and Steve Smith. Explaining and Understanding International Relations. Chapter 4: Understanding:

“When it rains, those who predicted otherwise are proved wrong and those who refuse to believe it is raining get as wet as anyone else.” 

We had university orientations today, which ranged from useful to quite pointless. The best part about them was meeting Margaret Irving, who is doing her M.Phil in economics, and Kate Stinson, who is in my program. Kate was kind enough to show me to the Manor Road building, where the Politics and International Relations Department is located. It is right beside her college: Sain Catz. Aggressively modern, the Manor Road building looks absolutely brand new, though ultimately quite uninspired. It is a collection of concrete and glass that looks like it will be highly functional for working in, but still ends up feeling a bit like the shamelessly western shopping malls that I found littered around Prague.

Wadham Colleg received my replacement Bodeleian card today: also spelled wrong. On a better note, the college fixed my sink this morning, which has been incredibly slow at draining since I arrived. In the afternoon, after attending a second batch of less than useful international orientation sessions, I spent a while drinking tea in my room with Nora, listening to miscellaneous music while I read my Hollis and Smith and she read Lolita: the only fictional book I brought with me.

Later, a whole group of new and existing Wadham students headed up to a pub between here and Merifield, the graduates only accommodation about a mile from here, where Bilyana lives. The pub itself was mediocre, but I met some interesting people. Foremost among them: Melati, an Indonesian-born M.Phil student in oriental studies. Born in Indonesia, she lived in San Francisco much more recently and did her undergraduate work at the University of Chicago. I hope very much that I shall see her again.

After wandering back from the bar, amidst all the minor discomforts of a serious downpour, we headed to the JCR bar and then the MCR with bottles of cheap college wine in hand. While at least twenty graduates are still there – a cluster of Canadians perhaps still singing “Barrett’s Privateers,” now seemed the time to take my leave.

I’ve met a great many people on the superficial, ‘let’s exchange names and talk amicably for a while’ level. I’ve met far fewer people on the ‘I anticipate and look forward to future conversations’ level. Priority one, right now, is to make a few actual friends. By that, I mean people who I care about in a specific and directed way and who feel likewise about me. Such people are the foundation of my sanity and whatever accomplishments to which I can lay claim. That position described, I should get a bit of sleep.

PS. There are so many Rhodes Scholars about that one feels utterly ashamed about having no particular academic distinction.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous September 29, 2005 at 3:39 am

Well the pirate life’s appealing but you don’t just find it here, I hear in North Alberta there’s a band of buckaneers. They roam the Athabasca from Smith to Fort Mackay – and you’re bound to lose your stetson if you have to pass their way.

Anonymous September 29, 2005 at 9:06 am

A letter of mark came from the King, to the scuziest vessel I’ve ever seen
Goddamn them all, I was told we’d cruise the seas for American gold we’d fire no guns, shed no tears

B September 29, 2005 at 1:29 pm

You didn’t even apply for the Rhodes, did you? Perhaps this year you should, though you will have little time to collect references.

Tristan Laing September 29, 2005 at 2:50 pm

What would Kuhn think of the rain quotation?

Milan September 29, 2005 at 3:01 pm

I’ve no idea. I would say that it refers to a kind of truth that is robust, as in “Bombard a certain metal with photons of a certain wavelength and you will get electrons of a certain energy level,” as opposed to a kind far less vulnerable to refutation, as in “The Cuban Missile Crisis was caused by imperialism / Kennedy’s hubris / God’s divine plan / the structure of the international system.”

Anonymous September 29, 2005 at 6:42 pm

“Now I’m a broken man on a Halifax pier, the last of Barrett’s Privateers!”

Can really only be properly sung in a pub, or while canoeing.

Meghan

PS – it has been pouring here too.

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