Winding Down At Oxford

It’s my second to last week at Oxford and the reflections are pouring in. I still remember the zero week, also known as Fresher’s week, where first year students and visiting students go through various orientation programs. The experience was much more independent compared to Customs week; you didn’t have a specific set of orienteers that showed you around, played games, and what not (not that I’m nostalgic for any of that or anything). Instead a group of four students had a College Mom and a College Dad, both of whom were expected to answer any of your questions and maybe meet up with all four at some point. I sense that my voice is beginning to sound whiny so I’ll stop my description, lest my bitterness over nothing comparing to Customs Week seep deeper into this post.

But time’s flown by, like I said, I’m wrapping up, with only two more essays to go before I’ve finished all my work related obligations. I do have some lectures to finish up with, but other than that, I’m twenty pages away from winter break, which lasts 6 weeks. Interestingly, in the past 6 weeks, I’ve written eleven 10-page pagers, along with a presentation as part of a symposium on social insurance. The amount of work that I’ve gotten through still surprises me, compared with the amount that I’ve written in the past two years. I find the Oxford tutorial system very effective at helping students develop not only a deep understanding of the material they read but also a voice to speak about it.

Speaking of developing a voice, I’ve decided to start writing a blog on energy and the environment. A few months ago, I would have been averse to the idea of researching a topic independently and then writing a post on my research, but because of my adjustment to Oxford’s emphasis on essay writing, I’ve found it much easier to explore a topic that I’m very passionate about. I became interested in energy over the summer while interning at De Lage Landen, a vendor finance firm, where I research the natural gas market. The experience was eye opening, bringing me to the realization that I really don’t know much about such pressing issues such as the energy industry or climate change. What I did realize, however, is that these are fields that I would like to participate in, contribute to, create solutions for.

I’ve been especially motivated by my time here, from taking a Public Economics course, which has taught me the potential that economics has to solve the challenges that governments face, as well as from the ambitious environment that surrounds me. For example, last week I saw Elon Musk, an innovative entrepreneur who’s pioneered in the industries of space travel and electric cars. Hearing Musk talk about the steps he took through his education, business experience, and fund raising to build a rocket is ridiculous, amazing. Hearing him say that he wants to retire to Mars, speaking about energy sustainability as not only a priority, but also a potential social norm, all of this isn’t part of an outlook that you’re used to and so when visionaries jar you into perspective, you appreciate it.

If you’d like to follow my other blog on energy and the environment, here’s a link: explainingenergy.blogspot.com