Exeter College Oxford as seen in Marvel’s Dr Strange

Exeter College Oxford as seen in Marvel’s Dr Strange

When I was back in Oxford, around January time, there were rumours flying everywhere that the Benedict Cumberbatch was to grace his presence at Exeter College filming for a new movie. Whilst it turned out that the whispers of Cumberbatch’s appearance were false, Exeter College chapel did turn out to be a filming location for a movie that he was in: Marvel’s Dr Strange. I went to see the new Dr Strange movie last night, and it was so cool seeing Exeter College chapel in the middle of the film with Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen. The movie reminds me a lot like Inception with its kaleidoscopic scenes and manipulated cityscapes, and the same happens to the interior of Exeter College chapel. Here are a few of my favourite photos that I’ve taken in the chapel, alongside with the screenshots from the Dr Strange film – I would definitely recommend seeing it. Yay for Oxford University being used in Hollywood blockbuster films!

Mads Mikkelsen in Dr Strange filmed in Exeter College Chapel University of Oxford, photo taken from Jay Maidment cdn.collider.com

Dr Strange Exeter College Chapel Oxford University_image from Comicbook.com

Exeter College Chapel University of Oxford Dr Strange Marvel Film

Exeter College Oxford University Dr Strange Film

Exeter College Oxford University Dr Strange Film

Exeter College Oxford University Dr Strange Film

Exeter College Chapel University of Oxford Dr Strange Marvel Film

Graduating with a Master’s from the University of Oxford

Graduating with a Master’s from the University of Oxford

Who would have thought it this time two years ago, after graduating from the University of York, I would be graduating with a Master’s degree from Oxford? I certainly didn’t. Oxford has always had this mysterious and enigmatic presence in my life. When I was smaller, I remember thinking how amazing it would be to attend and study here, but never in my wildest dreams did I actually think I would have gone there. And now I have finished!

This year has probably been one of the quickest in my life to date. My course was only 9 months long. The shortness of my degree meant that a lot was crammed into a little amount of time. This included the huge task of learning languages such as Latin and Medieval French at the same time. Whilst at times many lamented how hard, demanding, and tiring the course was – I found it incredibly interesting, and never once did I think that maybe I should have been doing something else. I loved it.

However, this year was particularly difficult for me towards the end. Less than a month before my dissertation was due, my Grandfather unexpectedly passed away. It was, and still is, one of the toughest things that I have had to experience. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of my Grandpa, and I miss him dearly. I found it very difficult to continue on when he passed, and so, in theory, I should be exceptionally happy to have graduated under the circumstances. I hope that he was looking down on us last week, and shared in the precious occasion with all the family.

Now I am back at the family home, and eagerly applying for jobs left, right, and centre. Job-hunting is l-o-n-g, and I hadn’t realised how much time goes into each application. However, my perseverance will not be diminished!

I’m also feeling very creative at the moment. Whilst studying I didn’t have the to do as much painting or photography as I would normally like to. So, whilst there is a gap in my life, this is the perfect opportunity to get painting! Keep checking out on my instragram to see what I get up to.

Here are just a few of the photos taken on my graduation, enjoy.

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Throwing hat giff

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Research trip to Paris

Research trip to Paris

In January I was lucky to be given the funding from Jesus College to head over to Paris as part of my research for my dissertation. The main goal of this trip was to be able to see a manuscript that I am researching in person at the BNF (Bibliothèque Nationale de France). The actual process of getting in touch with the BNF and requesting access to the manuscript wasn’t that difficult (to my surprise!), and I was eventually granted permission to be able to see my manuscript. Despite it being only for half a day, due to the fragile nature of the manuscript and the fact that it is part of the BNF’s special collection, it was a great experience to be able to see and touch the pages that I had been long looking at only on screen.

I’m not gonna lie, and maybe only fellow medievalists will understand this, but oh my – what an amazing time I had! When my manuscript was finally brought out to me, I could feel my hands trembling. I was so excited! To be able to physically handle a manuscript from the 13th/14th century, how often do you get to do that!? (Well, actually, here at Oxford we get to do that quite a lot, but that’s beside the point…). I don’t know why, but I wasn’t expecting it to be the size it was, and I also wasn’t expecting the folios to be so fragile. I guess that’s what happens when you spend your time looking at objects such as these via computer screens and in books – you forget the actual materiality quality of the objects themselves. Whenever I handle manuscripts, I always try to remember the fact that these were made from living animals, the skin of cows etc. There’s something magical, albeit a little gross about this. It was also a wonderful experience just to be able to turn the pages over, mirroring the actual experience of those 13th century people looking at it. That’s another thing about studying manuscripts and other medieval objects via computers that can be unhelpful, the fact that you can also lose sight of how these objects were used, held, and experienced. I could ramble on for hours talking about how fun it was to be able to interact with an object I have grown to love and appreciate so much, but I will save you all from it.

Due to the fact that I only had access to the manuscript for half a day meant that I went a little obsessive with the amount of photos I took. But hey, I have no regrets! It was important to be able to survey each folio individually, making notes of any particular features that could not be seen on the photos that the BNF have released online.

After spending a mentally fatiguing and exciting day at the BNF, I spent the remaining days in Paris meeting up with friends and my former Au Pair family. I had such a wonderful time in Paris, not only being back in the city that I love so much, but to be able to advance in my research and be able to actually see the manuscript in person!

I have a lot of work now that I need to get on with, including some very difficult attempts at choiring my manuscript – but this is what I love, and cannot wait to get down to it.

Also, a big thank you to Jesus College for providing me with the funding to be able to make this special trip to the BNF.

Medieval Manuscript at the BnF, Paris

 

Medieval Manuscript at the BnF, Paris

 

Medieval Manuscript at the BnF, Paris

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Sharing an elevator with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Rönkkö #Elevate

Sharing an elevator with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Rönkkö #Elevate

Last Friday began like any other. I was preparing for a weekend trip to London that afternoon, so got my bags packed, did some work and reading, took a book from the library. Totally normal. Except, me and my housemate decided that we would check out what Shia LaBeouf was up to in Oxford. Yes, Shia LaBeouf was on Oxford (!) Pause for a moment whilst I stop squealing.

So for those who not familiar, the Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf has brought his focus to the world of performance art, and has done some many interesting things in the past. He is part of a trio which includes Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, making them ‘LaBeouf, Turner, Rönkkö’. One of the last things they did was occupy a gallery room in Liverpool’s FACT, answering the public’s calls in an attempt to ‘touch their soul’. I tried calling 200 times to no avail. So when I heard that the trio were going to be occupying a lift in the centre of Oxford for 24 hours, I had to take my chance. However, what I hadn’t realised was that the wait would take hours. 4-5 hours to be precise.

Naive me turned up with my housemate at 10.30 am, expecting to be finished by 12 pm at the latest, to then go on and continue our day. How wrong we were. 2.30pm, and we were still in the queue. With the anxiety of already waiting so long, and for it to be just a waste of time, we decided we would stick it out. Although every hour we ended up saying that we would only wait another 30 mins then we were leaving. So by 4pm we were finally in. For 20 minutes we occupied a life with Shia LaBeouf and co. After standing in the queue for what felt like a life time,  we had prepared and thought over and over about what we would talk about. It was going to be insightful, philosophical, we’d have them in stitches! No. No we didn’t. As soon as I greeted the trio and the doors closed in the elevator, the realisation hit me. We were here. With this Hollywood actor. I had grown up watching Shia in Even Stevens the TV show, and to be standing next to him, eating his pizza that he offered up was beyond surreal. My mind went numb, and I completely forgot all the things I had said I would talk about. It was awkward. There were silences. There were hummings and nervous shifting around on the spot. Thank goodness for my housemate Geoff and our new friend Joey (who we had the pleasure of queuing up with) – they came out with some interesting questions, which in turn stopped me from my verbal diarrhoea.

Even though I found it slightly awkward, I thought that it was definitely an interesting experience. I mean, how often do you get the chance to be in an elevator with Shia LaBeouf!?  I guess you’re probably reading this and thinking how the hell this was ‘art’. Well, the trio explained that the whole purpose of situating themselves for 24 hours within this tiny elevator (which only went up 2 floors) was a way of connecting with people. Having been asked to give a talk at the Oxford Union, the art trio thought it would be a more interesting and intimate experience to be able to offer people the chance of spending quality time with them, rather than just listen to them in the hall.  And it definitely was intimate, although somewhat contrived, which I felt took away from the experience.

But hey, like I said, how often do you get the chance to rub shoulders (literally!) with a Hollywood Actor? One thing that I did feel uncomfortable about was the fact that I bet (myself included), most people were actually there just to meet Shia. What about Luke and Nastja? How did they find the prospect of this? Is it just part of the whole experience? I guess having a famous actor as part of your art performance helps bring attention, but I wondered if they felt a little disregarded during the whole process. Yes, these are the many questions I thought about before meeting and after, yet didn’t ask them! Alas. So, what are your thoughts about the performance piece? Thought-provoking and intimate, or just pretentious?

Check the video out around 6 hours 48 mins!

#Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University

#Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University

#Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University #Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University #Elevate with Shia LaBeouf, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Oxford University

Oxmas: Merry Christmas from Oxford

Oxmas: Merry Christmas from Oxford

What a crazy couple of months it has been for me! I officially finished my first term here at Oxford, and have been enjoying the Christmas holidays so far (except for when I’m attempting to write an essay!) I have been having an amazing time at Oxford, and am so appreciative for this incredible opportunity to study in such an awe-inpsiring place with so many interesting people.

What does make me sad is the fact that have neglected my blog for such a long time. Despite wanting to update my blog on a weekly basis, I have just struggled to find the time last term. However, I’ll make it my 2016 New Year’s resolution to keep up the blogging! There has been some really interesting things that have happened over the last term here at Oxford, and I hope to blog about them soon.

Wishing all my readers and everyone out there a very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Roisin x

Christmas at Christ Church College, University of Oxford

Christmas at Christ Church College, University of Oxford

Christmas tree at Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Christmas tree at Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Christmas tree at Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

 

A Traditional beginning at Oxford University – Matriculation

A Traditional beginning at Oxford University – Matriculation

Matriculation, Oxford University 2015

Last month I experienced one of the many traditions here at Oxford University – Matriculation. Having never heard or done anything like this before, the whole Matriculation phenomenon mystified me.

Matriculation is the formal process of when new students become ‘life members’ of the university. It is compulsory for new students at Oxford to matriculate, otherwise you cannot sit exams nor finish your degree!

For this event, we were required to wear what is known as ‘sub-fusc’ – a dress code that is both important for Matriculation, but also for future exam taking.

So there we were early one Saturday morning, catching up with one another in the Jesus College MCR where we were given some breakfast delights (including some cheeky prosecco). After the formal fresher photos and of course a generous amount of selfies, the beginning part of the Matriculation began. Two by two, we all lined up in the college squads, and then walked through the streets of Oxford toward the Sheldonian Theatre. This whole process was incredibly surreal – walking through the streets of the city, where people on the roads paused to see what was happening and taking photos of us. I almost felt as if were about to board Noah’s ark…

Once it was our turn to become members of the university, our college and another were sent inside the theatre. Whilst this was an unusual experience, not by the fact that everyone look pretty much like identical penguins, there was something very communal about the whole event – as if we were becoming part of a real Oxford community, which we now shared with those sitting around us.

The ceremony itself was on a whole different level of perplexing me. We were spoken to in very brief Latin (and I actually managed to get two words, albeit two very simple words…), and then we were ‘matriculated’, I guess… although you wouldn’t have known. The ceremony was extremely quick, there was a speech, and that was it. No shaking of hands. No signing your soul away. Nothing. I left the Sheldonian Theatre feeling utterly confused about the whole experience, and with a sense of anti-climax. Was that it? This special event that I had been anticipating, over within a flash, wish no formal acknowledgement of becoming a ‘member’? Hey, I guess so!

Despite the whole thing being somewhat disillusionment, it was an interesting day and something that I will never forget. As said, there was something very communal about the entire process – where together with my fellow students, both in Jesus and throughout the university; we became members of this prestigious institution.

Matriculation, Oxford, Jesus College 2015

Matriculation, Oxford University, 2015

Matriculation, Oxford University 2015