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  • Shanley McConnell

This Week In Recap: Early October

Updated: Oct 16, 2019



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Sunday, 6th October


Formal (Freshers' Welcome) Dinner:


My beautiful friend was curled in cosy covers on our couch when I went downstairs to make breakfast and tea this morning. I settled on the opposite sofa for the start of a little conversation that slowly stretched into two-hours.


I worked my last and (most successful) shift for the autumn-campaign at college today. It was bittersweet in the sense that I'm ready to begin the October internship and collage a study-routine, and yet, I'll also really miss the company of my colleagues; they made the experience so enjoyable with their spontaneous quad walk-arounds and thumbs-up encouragement across that basement room.


This evening was the Freshers' Welcome Formal Dinner, and it was so nice to see the MCR in full celebration (together with incoming graduates and committed members).


Also, my college dinning hall, with its patterned ceiling and dim lights, makes me happy. Sometimes if you pause mid-meal to gaze up at the portrait-gallery and people-watching-people, you see their faces alight on formal nights like these.

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Tuesday, 8th October


After a relaxed morning and slow violin practice, I walked to Keble to meet with with a couple new, incoming postgrads. The college has a parent/mentee system that ensures that incoming students are taken care of by giving them two contacts already established in the MCR.


It's nice in that one to meet new friends almost immediately in week 0. I never had a college-parent (I think my name might've been accidentally overlooked), so I was happy to be involved. I've met five of the incoming freshers' this way so far.


Around 6.45, I met a dear friend outside Worcester College for the walk to church. I'm learning that it's so important to make plans to attend events with people because it can be so easy to stay-in when evening comes. Cold weather like a closing door.


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Wednesday, 10th October


Wednesday was my errands day, but I didn't leave the house once. I curled up with a blanket and completed a cleaning-list, wrote a little poetry and prepared the kitchen for fall. Autumn. I love autumn-weather, autumn-candles, autumn-trees, autumn-sweets, autumn-vibes. I'm so excited about the new, cosy season.


I begged a friend to swing by today so that I could bake muffins. Because I rarely bake on my own, it makes me happy to fresh-oven treats for friends and family. The chosen recipe: apple + cinnamon muffins.


I had always wanted to bake these, and this seemed like an ideal time to try.


I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to shift schedules, to sit and listen to sweet friends share stories and know that life will continue to sort itself out in new, unexpected ways.


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Thursday, 11th October


World Mental Health Day


I'm curled up in a blanket at my desk with honey porridge and apple-spice tea because I've just returned home for dinner at 11:42.


Today was a calm day. I spent it doing many things, and, after every single one, I still felt as if I'd only just woken up from a quiet dream.


I did not have a restful sleep, but I have learned that sometimes people, sometimes places, sometimes afternoons spent in a rush between one moment to the next can be as soothing as sleep.


I woke up earlier than normal today in order to have a little breakfast and complete some life-admin emails by 9:30. Time escaped me, and I finished around ten.


And that was alright because the sun came out around then. In time for a walk to the maths institute for an exchange of hellos and second-batch muffins: a walk around town for coffee, a walk to Worcester, a walk around the gardens and the walk back and forth from Jericho.


I think Worcester is one of my new favorites places in Oxford. It is a pure magic. At the river's edge, swans settle about five steps from the walkway. There's a weeping willow in a garden wound round the city. It shelters the greenery from the busy street just half a mile away, and keeps the sound away. It's silent, but for the light shining through the stones of an archway, landing, felled by autumn leaves.


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After this, I rushed to Keble to meet another friend. We'd planned earlier in the week to attend Freshers' Fayre, for curiosity. We may or may not join new societies this term, but we were keen to remind ourselves of what was offered at the University.


Afterwards, Georgina's. A little, second-story cafe with Greek food in Oxford's Covered Market. I'd wholeheartedly recommend this place! A friend of mine had tried to take me a few weeks ago, but the cafe had been closed at the time.


It was a real treat today. Another friend joined, and the two of us shared moussaka + spanakopita. We all talked for a long while, sharing stories and secret aspirations for the future. And after, I walked back to Keble to collect a couple of packages. Then home to find a course mate chatting at the kitchen table while my housemate stirred hot-cocoa on the stove.


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It took me about two hours to write an email, reply to a few messages and FaceTime family visiting Italy. And then it was time to rush back out for a talk at the Oxford Union. Because of Freshers' Week, many of the events are free for non-member students. Tonight was the perfect night to attend (the CEO of Disney was visiting). Afterwards, my course mates and I waited behind, underneath the tower-sign, to collect thoughts and consider his talk.


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One of my course-mates (and friend) has now become my neighbor, and I walked to visit her after gathering groceries from Tesco. Because every now and again everyone needs the hug of a friend, especially after a long day, and if I can, I will do my best to come and keep company for a while knowing how familiar this feeling is for me. I am a hug person. I like giving and receiving hugs.


We talked for a while about normal people, shared silly stories and swapped book-suggestions. About 10.20 pm (in this timeline), we finally reach the title of today. Mental Health.


I'd like to look at it in light of relationships. Because that's how it was yesterday. Sitting around the living room of a student flat-share, my friend and I began discussing the impact of relationship. In all senses; the familial, in friendship and romantics. In different ways, all three of these weighed something heavy on our hearts last night.


It is so important to have pursue good relationships. And this can take courage.


It is so easy to let a few bad experiences shape the outcome of future friendships. I know this because it has been true in my life. How often I have let fear and memory determine the success of a new and promising friendship.


There's an axiom: that is is all worth risking again.


That to be authentic, generous, sincere, compassionate, searching, honest------heart full and felt is to sacrifice an idea of security for hope.


It is ok to remember how you were hurt. To be cautious, wary. But in this, let forgiveness be your confidence and grace.

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Friday, 12th February


There's this soundtrack I love. And I listen to it on accident sometimes. When it becomes a suggestion on a recently re-discovered playlist. Like this morning. It's a serenade II, written by a composer I can't remember. That's the charm of it. Those two minutes of a melody immediately calming and warm.


I spent the day sorting through Freshers' Fayre flyers and reading. The Oxford Student and Sally Rooney.


Then a long lie after a freezing shower (because the boiler has been down for two days now).


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Saturday, 13th February


I woke up today to find two new faces at my kitchen table. Friends of my flatmates are now friends of mine. And they are kind people who are traveling across Europe in a van-made-home, and I love it. The van is red, and so cleverly-organized; with a chimney + wood-burning stove, a double-sized bed and plenty of storage space for bicycles, pots, pans and a full wardrobe, the vehicle is truly ideal for their long journey.


My sweet flatmate cooked me veggie chili since I was feeling so under-the-weather.


I spent the afternoon at a Freshers' Fayre to promote the work of SolidariTee, a student-run charity that raises awareness and furthers sustainable support for those affected by the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. The charity sells high-quality, ethically-produced t-shirts to raise funds for NGOs working on the ground in Greece. I feel quite lucky to be a rep for the Oxford team.


After errands, I walked home ahead of the rain to met a friend for blackened-glass-noodles. After swapping stories, we settled for a film.


Time-stamp: At the moment, it's12.24 am. But isn't it lovely how late-nights can feel calming? How sometimes the most relaxing evenings are the ones spent in good-conversations with friends.


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Sunday, 14th October


Sunday was for watercolors, poetry and porridge. Coffee-conversations with friends, classical music and life-admin. For walking around the city-centre and worship. And this is the entire entry.

I've reread the past four days and realized how many sentences are repeated, how many words and commitments have been rephrased and I'm sorry! I think next week I'll try a new blogging tactic.


But, as always, thank you for reading and following along. Wishing you all a restful start to your week.


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