5.5 years in residence


in Daily updates, Oxford

Barring a few brief periods, I have now been living in university owned residences since September 2001: that is to say, five and a half years. First, it was a shared room in Totem (originally with a roommate who is now doing the M.Phil in Economics at Oxford, though who I did not speak to between when he moved out in December 2001 and when I first saw him here). Then, there was a single room in Totem Park and two stints in Fairview Crescent, one living with intolerable hockey players and another with a much more compatible crew. Between the Totem and Fairview periods, I lived for six weeks in the residence of L’Université de Montreal, while doing the Summer Language Bursary Program.

From September 2005 to April 2006, I lived in Library Court – part of Wadham College, Oxford – before moving out, largely on account of bad vegetarian food and inadequate and filthy kitchen facilities. Since then, I’ve been living with Alex and Kai in a flat below the Latin American Studies Centre, with a window looking out into our extremely large back yard, in north Oxford. The whole building belongs to St. Antony’s College, and it is to them that our termly payment of fine silks, wine, and a few head of cattle must be made.

On the basis of my experience, I can authoritatively reveal the best and worst things about institutionally owned residences. The best thing is the experience of living with fellow students, though, as the hockey debacle illustrates, that is hardly enough to make them kindred spirits. Also appealing is the cost structure: not so much that they are cheap, but that the prices are stable, you don’t have to haggle, and internet access and utilities are virtually always included. The worst things, from my point of view, are not having enough space for your books, living with walls so thin as to not muffle conversations at normal speaking volume (an education in itself, especially in Fairview), and the general requirement that you move quite frequently, further restricting the extent to which any space really becomes your own.

Within ten years, it is my hope that I will have a place to live where I have the space and confidence in long-term residence to justify unpacking and cataloging the books I have been picking up over these last two decades or so. That, and the chance to sleep on something other than a cheap single mattress. They never offer much in the way of back support.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Ben February 4, 2007 at 10:27 pm

I also look forward to somewhere with space and permanence, but with house prices as they are it may take more than ten years…

Milan February 4, 2007 at 10:31 pm


A house is way beyond what I am considering. I aspire to nothing more than a decently sized apartment close to the centre of a good city.

Ashley February 6, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Did you do the SLBP at U of M also? I did it 1999 and it rivals Iceland for the best summer fo my life. An absolutely transformative summer. I just received a letter from one of my newfies friends from that summer who came out to BC for a visit and is now in Zambia. But I am just distracting myself from work and you from thesis– good luck!

Milan February 6, 2007 at 4:09 pm


I am pretty sure we discussed our mutual SLBP experiences in Montreal in the past. As you say, it was great fun.

Especially good were the jazz festival and meeting Viktoria Prokhorova.

Milan February 28, 2010 at 1:31 am

I am now living in a decently sized apartment. Ottawa is a good city from a career perspective, but pretty lacking in other ways.

Milan June 9, 2016 at 9:28 pm

Surprisingly enough, I got three more years in a university residence well after all this passed, with my time at Massey College between September 2012 and May 2015.

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