Two weeks in Balliol College seemed, for students arriving, like a long time. Oxford was impressively old, and its reputation as one of the world’s greatest academic institutions was, frankly, somewhat intimidating for some; the other students were unfamiliar; home was, for many, far away.
Yesterday, though, as the fortnight drew to a close and students prepared themselves to leave, two weeks seemed far too short. Time flies when you’re having fun, as the idiom says— and, without doubt, an enormous amount of fun has been had over the past fortnight. From trips to musicals to trips to museums, evenings spent holding eagles to afternoons drifting lazily along in a punt… You could not ask for much more from two weeks.
In addition to all that has been experienced, however, a great deal has been achieved. In the afternoon, in front of students and staff alike assembled alongside proud parents, students’ achievements were celebrated in the Graduation Ceremony in the Grand Hall. Stephen Flavin, the Programme Director in Balliol, delivered a speech of congratulations and inspiration, encouraging students to take what they have learned and apply it fearlessly to their studies, their lives and their futures. Students were presented with scrolls and documents certifying their attendance and their achievement, and quite rightly seized the opportunity to have the moment commemorated with photos— everybody looked very smart indeed.
In the evening, dress shoes were swapped for dancing shoes as a final glorious party was held in Balliol’s very own Junior Common Room. ‘Medieval’-themed, the bar was impressively decorated and felt very much like a more salubrious version of the inns and alehouses in Game of Thrones, while counsellors were committed to the Medieval theme and came dressed in knight outfits. The tables, fittingly for a medieval banquet –as anybody who has read George RR Martin’s books will know— were practically groaning under the huge amount of food and drink; and outside, there were games and challenges, including a rather difficult balancing diversion, for those who fancied trying their hand or challenging their friends. The centre of everybody’s attention, though, was the dance floor. It’s clear that some of the students in Balliol can really dance; and even those to whom it may not come so naturally had a great time, surrounded by friends and able to glory in the chance to make some beautiful memories before hugging each other goodbye the next morning.
Balliol College will miss these students, who made it their home for an all-too-brief fortnight— and as for we at ORA, we hope that we won’t have to miss the students for more than a year!