My first day of school (sort of)

Posted on October 4, 2005 by Holly Hayes
Part of: Graduate School in Oxford

Today I had my first official academic thingy. It was a meeting of all new religion graduate students at the Theology Faculty office, conveniently located just three doors down from the Eagle and Child pub.

At 1:45pm I had a preliminary meeting with my fellow students (5 of them) and professors (4 of them) in the field of Church History. It was great, as I got loads of information on my program, especially on the first term. It's called "Michaelmas Term" and runs from October 9 to December 3 (yep, just two months!).

The first term will be dedicated to historiography, which basically means studying how to study history. The main requirement of this term will be a weekly seminar (on Friday afternoons), which starts on October 14. The locations rotate around depending on the professor who's leading them, and the first two are at Christ Church College! Yay!

At today's meeting we signed up to present at least two of the seminars, and I'm doing one of the first ones. Sounds crazy, but we're studying various Christian historians in chronological order, so my area of interest (Early Christianity) is covered in the first two weeks. But I also signed up for a Reformation one to mix things up. I don't think it will be too bad - we just have to give a 10 min. introduction to the text we're studying and try to make a point or two that leads to good discussion.

The professors that were at the meeting are the ones that will be leading these seminars, and each represents a period of Christian history (early, medieval, Reformation, and modern). There were two women and two men, plus the woman who is coordinating the program. I liked them. One of them, who specializes in medieval history, introduced herself as Sister Benedictina, though she was wearing civilian clothes.

I liked my fellow students as well. Two others are Americans, both from Denver by coincidence. The other two are British. All are men except for me and another, older woman who is studying part-time.

After that meeting, we all went upstairs to the seminar room and joined about 50 new grad students from all religious subjects. A few different people gave us general information on things like the library, the computing services, who to contact for what, studying at Oxford in general, etc.

The coolest thing I learned from the presentation is that as a member of the university, I can go to any lecture I want for free! Lecture lists are published online and I can just take my pick. I've already made plans to go to several different ones, some in my subject area (e.g. the Roman Emperor Constantine), and some not (e.g. Intro to Hinduism)! I feel so grateful to have such an opportunity to study here and plan to take full advantage of Oxford's resources, including the vast libraries (I've already checked out a huge stack) and lectures from impressive scholars.

Also, I was contacted by my supervisor today and we've made plans to meet this Thursday at 11am in her office. I'm very excited but also a bit intimidated, so I'm trying to read up and give some last-minute serious thought to my interests so I can intelligently explain them to her. She will be the one to direct my program here, advising me on what lectures to attend and helping guide me towards a specific topic that will eventually become my thesis. So I'll have an even better idea of what my day-to-day student life will look like after that meeting.

Yay, school! :)