The Penultimate Stretch (1st Week, Trinity Term)

Trinity may be the loveliest of the Oxford terms. The days are growing steadily longer, the steady April showers are giving way (in theory) to colourful May flowers, and colleges have started sending out emails about delightful things like croquet, punting, and garden parties.

Before these beauties could be embraced, however, the results of our ‘vacation’ labours had first to be submitted for the no-doubt eager perusal of our examiners.

Essay submission is a rather formidable process at Oxford, especially when your head is full of niggling worries like whether you really ought to have included that extra footnote on page 17. The History Faculty has characteristically managed to spread the pertinent information regarding submission formats, dates, and procedures across numerous documents scattered about the internet, with the inevitable result that during the days leading up to submission, paranoid texts and messages were circulating amongst us querying cover page formatting, fonts, word counts, envelopes, stapling procedure, etc.

My final, final, final edits complete the morning of, I trotted around Oxford from one end to the other, doing battle along the way with unstocked stationary shelves, disconnected computers, sadistic printers, and feckless staplers, still managing to get to the Examination Schools in good time to join the milling throngs of exhausted graduate students, including my own classmates, clutching their oeuvres to their chests in bulky envelopes addressed in appropriate fashion to the mysterious ‘Chairman of the Board of Examiners’ of our respective degrees. Checking everything over about a dozen times, I finally handed over my envelopes with their official-looking submission slips to the nice man at the counter–worried the moment they left my hand that I had somehow managed to fill the envelopes with completely blank pages. Our work irretrievably out of our hands, we emerged back into the sunshine with a kind of triumphant despair, clutching our yellow submission receipts which fluttered cheerfully in the breeze.

Let Trinity now begin!


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