So I was off to Oxford for my first contact week, the lectures run from first thing Wednesday morning until mid-afternoon on Saturday. To make the best of my time I flew from Seoul to the UK on the preceding Saturday so that I could spend a couple of days at my Uncle and Aunt’s house studying and getting over jet lag. By way of a side note, if possible I would recommend that anyone traveling from Australia, SE Asia or America should travel on the Saturday or Sunday prior to the course, those that did got far more out of the Wednesday and Thursday than those who arrived on the Tuesday evening. While at my Uncle and Aunt’s house I did less study than planed and ate and drank more than planned, I blame them, they are such great company, cook such delicious food and have a great cellar.
I had hired a car when I arrived at Heathrow so on the Tuesday afternoon I drove to Oxford, dropped my car off and checked into the Royal Hotel . As is the way of the world, I had flown 10 hours from Korea and the bottom floor of the hotel I was staying was a Korean restaurant!!! The royal hotel was comfortable, but nothing special, my room faced inward and was quiet, some of the other students who had outward facing rooms said it was noisy at night. Once checked in I went for a walk to get my bearings.
The Royal Hotel is opposite the Said Business school, the business school is a very modern building both in age and style. A short walk down the street the whole feeling goes backward in time several centuries, I enjoyed my stroll taking in the antics of drunken uni students, the river, architecture and the general ambiance. The Business school had organised a first night ice breaker at the Kings Arms, this was a great way to meet some of the people who I will be studying with for the next year.
The next morning it was into the course, I was nervous just like a young kid at his first day at school, the information came quick and fast, and I am glad to say although some of the pre-reading was very dry the lecturers were not. Throughout the module the majority of the information was presented by Sue Dopson and Michael Smelts, they were enthusiastic, flexible and fun, it made all the difference. All the days were packed full, there was something to do every break and activities organised every evening.
There were numerous things that surprised me about the organisation of the course. Most importantly there was a great lunch provided every day and we had access to coffee, tea and snacks for every break (it is not a course to go on to lose weight). We only had limited time that we spent in breakout sessions, the breakout sessions averaged one a day and generally they were quite short (half to three quarters of an hour is my guess, I didn’t keep a record), on reflection this had to be the case we had so much content to get through and also had to do all the things like how to use the University IT system, Libraries…. I am hoping that in future modules there will be more time for group working, time will tell. The final thing was how accessible and amenable the staff at the business school were, we could just have a chat, I remember for my undergraduate days how aloof, scary and unapproachable the lecturers were, and here it was the opposite. However as an undergraduate I suspect that there was very little that I knew about engineering analysis that my lecturer didn’t, however I am sure that I knew more about the internal workings of a Korean chaebol than anyone else at the course.
Now for the fun stuff STUDENT LIFE, I am an Affiliate Member of Pembroke College, whoohoo, on the second night we got to visit the college that we were now affiliated with , told all about the history, the content of the Masters cellars, and shown round some of the amazing buildings. Some of it is right out of a fantasy novel, I was expecting to come face to face with a pixie or fairy or some other mythical beast. The next night we were off to Dinner at Balliol College, the dining room may have been the set out of Harry Potter, the only difference was the lack of wizarding robes and the candles were in candle stick holders on the tables not floating in the air. The food and company was great and after dinner some of us made our way to one of the local pubs. This meal felt like the first time many of us properly relaxed and it was a great chance to get to know my fellow students far better. The next morning, Saturday, the final day, one of our numbers was missing for the first lecture; we were slightly concerned that he might have disappeared in the Vodka triangle, however it was far more boring, he just had a frustrating two hours trying to fix ticketing problems for his flight home.
The lectures finished at 2:00 pm and then I shared a car to Heathrow, and caught the 8:00 PM flight to Seoul. Exhausted; I ate the yummy plane food, had a couple of glasses of wine and slept for almost the entire flight. I arrived home with confidence that the course was entirely doable, I was learning some great things ant there were many interesting and fun Class mates. Time will tell how well I go in the exams.