the ballerine: a brand new IUD that won’t stab you in the womb, apparently

If you have a uterus but very much don’t want to get pregnant, chances are that you’re on some form of contraception to ward away the offspring. There’s a delightful pick-n-mix of different types of contraception to choose from. Most contraception is hormonal, and therefore bring with them all sorts of unwanted and unpleasant side effects such as mood swings, weight gain, acne, and tender breasts. Non-hormonal options are fairly limited in comparison, with one of the most popular choices being the copper IUD coil, which provides 99% effective protection for up to 5 or 10 years. The Ballerine, or IUB, is the newest addition to these non-hormonal ranks. It’s been tested since 2013, and is currently all the rage, with over 60,000 women in 21 countries currently using it.

What is it?

While the copper IUD is T-shaped, the Ballerine is (surprisingly) ball-shaped. It’s made up of copper pearls (17, to be precise) threaded on a shape memory alloy called Nitinol, which is inserted into the uterus via a tube, with the ball forming as it emerges. The metal frame essentially “remembers” the shape it should form inside the uterus, coiling itself up into a ball. This design is unique in its use in contraceptives, and is intended to fit neatly into the shape of the uterus, and as a result, minimise risks of damage and irritation. Insertion of the copper coil IUD can sometimes result in perforation of the uterus, a nasty accident which requires an operation to fix. With fewer sharp points that could accidentally poke you in your uterus walls, it’s thought that inserting the IUB is less likely to result in a perforation (however, this is yet to be formally scientifically tested)

small but mighty

The IUB comes in three different sizes, ranging between 12mm to 18mm in diameter. The copper IUD coil is 32 mm x 36 mm, so the IUB is clearly a lot smaller even at its largest option. It’s still large enough that it won’t be immediately yeeted (sorry) out of the cervix, however, and has two strings attached that dangle just out of the cervix for easy removal.

How does it work?

The IUB works in the same way that the IUD does, with the copper beads (rather than the coil forming the base of the T) releasing a small and safe amount copper ions, providing protection at a success rate of 99% for up to five years. The copper ions interfere with many of the processes involved in getting pregnant, including sperm mobility, fertilisation, and egg implantation on the uterus wall. Snowflake sperm can’t even hack a bit of copper, pathetic.

balls to the (uterus) wall

So, is it worth getting the IUB instead the IUD?

The Lowdown, a website that acts as a platform for women and other uterus owners to review different types of contraception and report any negative side effects, recently posted in response to questions from followers regarding the IUB. They reference a clinical trial done by the manufacturers of the Ballerine that compares the experience of 367 subjects using either the IUD or the IUB. The results of this study shows that there was no significant difference in expulsion rate or pregnancy rate between the two devices, nor any real differences in bleeding period and intensity. However, there was one area where the IUD and IUB did differ significantly; the IUB users reported experiencing a significantly greater proportion of improvement in their pain and cramps experienced.

if the ‘p’-value is less than 0.05, it means that the difference between the two bars is statistically significant. here, this is seen only for pain and cramps

So, the science seems to say that the Ballerine could lead to less cramping and pain than its ugly sister IUD. However, this study was done by the manufacturers of the product, so we must always be wary of bias when drawing any conclusions. The study also hasn’t been published in a peer reviewed scientific journal yet, which essentially means that the authors could write any old bollocks and get away with it. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, though.

How do I get one?

According to the Lowdown, the Ballerine was only approved by the NHS on the 1st of September 2019, so very few GP surgeries offer it at this moment in time. If you’re in the UK, you may be near to one of the surgeries listed by the Lowdown as places to obtain the Ballerine here. You’re in luck if you live in West London it seems! Otherwise, you may have to wait until 2020, unless you can convince your GP to learn how to insert it at lightning speed.

If you’re in the USA, however, you most likely won’t be able to access the IUB for at least 5 years. The US classifies intrauterine devices as drugs rather than medical devices like Europe does, and the FDA requires a much longer and more difficult registration process for these “drugs” – namely a 3-5 year study. Yee haw, I guess.

Contraception is a massively personal choice varies from uterus to uterus depending on many factors. Whether or not you think the IUB is the right fit for you, you are now more informed about the pros and cons of the new IUD on the block. Choose wisely!

the 8 stages of getting a tattoo

Tattoos are seen by some as quite cool, and by some of my friends as something their mother would genuinely kick them out the house for. Last November, in the midst of a mid-degree crisis, I decided to bite the bullet (needle?) and get my first tattoo.

I went down a fairly basic millennial route and got a sunflower on my side – but shut up, I love it. It has inspired me since to buy an awful lot of crop tops in order to let the little guy poke it’s head out of my clothes so that everyone can know just how badass I am (sarcasm).

Here I will entail the stages of deliberation that came with finally taking the tattoo plunge, and the stages after that involved too much clingfilm for one girl to handle.

Stage 1 – “Research” (procrastination)

If you’ve ever even so much as considered getting a tattoo, you will have found yourself scrolling aimlessly down Pinterest to get ideas on what you’d like, and what you most definitely do NOT want (face tattoos, I’m talking about you).

Stage 2 – Choosing a design after months of deliberation

Regardless of what people say, your tattoos don’t have to mean anything “deep”. The extent of my soul-searching was that sunflowers are my favourite flower and they look quite nice.

Stage 3 – Actually going through with making the booking

This for me was the most nerve-wracking part, because this was where the idea of a tattoo went from a “one of these days” to a “two weeks’ time” kinda thing. The lovely man in the tattoo parlour asked me to send over a rough design in the interim, so I sent him a picture I’d found, of course, on Pinterest.

Stage 4 – T-day

I arrived after a two-hour tutorial, extremely nervous and not knowing whether or not I’d made a horrific and quite expensive mistake. They led me upstairs, where the tattoo artist took a look at the picture that I had emailed, and we started to custom design it to exactly what I wanted. I had originally planned on the sunflower being about 3 inches long, but the artist recommended not having it that small, as the details would be harder for him to do and also harder to see. In a fit of recklessness that often takes over my brain in situations like this, I said “screw it”, and agreed to let him give me a 6 inch long tattoo (!) on my ribs (!!).

He first drew a template on my side with pen, so that I could look in the mirror and make sure I was 100% happy with it. I then lay down on his dentist chair of a bed, and he got out his pneumatic drill (tattoo gun).

According to my boyfriend, who was holding my hand at the time, I was very brave when he started to draw – I didn’t even flinch. This was because he started at the base of the tattoo, which was on my lovely fleshy waist. The pain was similar to that of stubbing your toe, but constantly, and on your side. I was doing so well until he reached my ribcage, and that’s where the pain upped the ante. Now it was more like a very hot spoon being held against my ribs, and also wiggled around a bit – but you can’t flinch away unless you want your tattoo to look like it was drawn by a toddler. I’d like the record to state that no tears were shed until the final two minutes of the 120 minute session, which is when the tattoo artist briefly decided to attempt to drill to China via my ribcage.

Stage 5 – Total inflated ego

Looking into the mirror afterwards and admiring what was, if I may say so myself, a very nice tattoo, gave my self-confidence a nice boost. A year and a half on, it hasn’t quite deflated back to baseline levels – hence the crop tops and frequent features on my Instagram.

Stage 6 – Aftercare

It’s a little known fact that tattoos do in fact hurt quite a bit. They continue to hurt for about 2 days after the fact, too. You have to wash it about 3 times a day, then slather the tattoo in what is basically lip balm, before wrapping it up in clingfilm to keep it clean. While wrapping an arm tattoo, for example, would be quite a simple affair, wrapping a side tattoo was not. After several hours making a mess with masking tape and square of film, I eventually settled for a super sexy clingfilm corset look.

Stage 7 – Telling everyone who will listen

The weekend after the tattoo had been birthed came a night out with mates, where I proceeded to show every person there my floral battle scar and recount my grisly tale. They definitely thought I was cooler for it, I promise.

Stage 8 – Writing an article about it?

So there we have it – the comprehensive review of getting a tattoo. To everyone who is considering getting one, it actually doesn’t hurt as much as you think, especially if you use your brain like I didn’t and choose a nice fatty place like an arm to get it done. Also, when you meet other people with tattoos you can automatically bond over the mutual pain – it’s like a mother’s group.

In terms of family reaction, my parents were initially wary before I reminded them that they both in fact have tattoos as well, and while my grandparents definitely disapprove, I get the joy of hearing this classic one-liner at every family gathering: “that’s a funny looking bruise you have on your side there”. Comedy gold.

“so, what are you doing after graduation?”

“So, what are you doing after you graduate?” – the question that brings a tear to the eye and vomit to the mouth of every finalist.

I don’t know about you, but every single relative I speak to seems incredibly keen to ask me this at least 3 times per social occasion, pushing me into a spiral of existential dread. The truth is, I don’t know. But what makes it worse is that everyone else seems to have their life together, when it very much feels like mine is not.

I crave the days of first year, when my biggest stresses were that I definitely would not be able to write an essay in 4 days (how things have changed). Now, with the adult world looming a mere 5 months away, I realise how unprepared I feel for real life.

Linkedin is a big contributor to my feeling of hopelessness, and I imagine it is for a lot of people. It all starts out with you making an account, because everyone else is (classic). You end up connecting with approximately 6 million random people at your college that you’ve never spoken to, some people on your course, and trying to connect with celebrities. Of course, what comes next is the crushing feeling of not having done enough with your life, because all the people that you stalked seem to have already been working at Goldman Sachs since year 11, juggling 8 internships and 3 blues along the way.

“What jobs have you applied to so far?” comes the cry from your humanities friends. “Why don’t you just stay and do a masters?” ask the scientists. “AGHGHHHGHGGHGH” I reply.

Everyone around me seems to already have a job lined up, and to have done all the relevant experience to back themselves up. In my final Hilary term, I feel like I’ve missed the boat, and no amount of swimming will catch me back up. Nothing really grabs me as a career; the only job that I can think of that wouldn’t bore me to tears is being able to play with baby hippos all day long (honestly, they’re the cutest thing I’ve ever seen), and I’m not really sure if being a zookeeper gives you a brilliant pay check. Of course, money doesn’t buy happiness, but being able to afford rent probably helps a little bit.

This is the eternal problem with jobs – the hard, stressful ones are those that pay the best. It’s this conundrum that’s kept me up at night, googling things like “how to marry rich” and “how to win the lottery”, in the hopes I’ll find the secret to lifelong fulfilment. If only life were like Monopoly, and you could steal thousands from the bank with the only consequence being that your boyfriend has a hissy fit.

Part of me just wants to sack it off and go travelling for a year, in the most literal interpretation of escaping from real life. The thing is, travelling requires money – money that after 3 years of battels and no time to work, I very much do not have. In order to acquire money – and here’s the clincher – you need to get a job. We’re back to square one again, and I still don’t know what I want to do as a career.

If you’re also feeling lost, do what I did and check out the Careers Connect website. There are literally thousands of jobs and internships you can browse through, once you get over the overwhelming dread of having to think about the future. The Careers Service also have an appointment service where you can meet with one of their professionals and unload all your stress and terror, and they have to guide you in the right direction because they’re getting paid (I kid, it’s also because they’re lovely people). I spoke to one lady, who was so understanding and helpful; she gave me some pointers and resources to help me do some research into what I want to do. Even if you don’t find your dream job, it’s a step in the right direction to let them help you to sieve out the things you really don’t want to do.

It’s so easy to compare yourself to others, especially at this university. Everywhere we look, people seem to be doing better than us, doing more than us, going further than us. But it’s not healthy to constantly be feeling like you’re at the bottom of the pile. Remember, this university lets people on based on how put-together they seem in an interview, so naturally we’re surrounded by people that are great at pretending that they’re put-together in every way. In reality, I bet that Union hack you wished you were earlier today is actually jealous of you, and how much fun you have doing jiujitsu. The grass is always greener on the other side, and Oxford students are really good at shouting about just how much greener their grass is than everyone else’s, even if it’s a bit brown in reality. So, don’t worry. Nobody else knows what they’re going to do with their lives either.

i’m a guilty vegetarian – but that’s okay

We are well into the new year, and with that has come an influx of cries of “new year, new me!”. The trends that people attempt are generally things they know deep down that they should be doing year round, but generally only manage for 24 of the 30 days of the first month. This year, Veganuary is the big thing that people are giving a shot – which is great news, as it shows that meat-free diets are a thing to be desired just like going to the gym and not getting drunk quite so often. Vegetarianism and veganism have increased in popularity massively in the last couple of years, with a reported 25% of dinners in the UK not containing any meat or fish, and 17% of young people apparently not eating any meat at all. This change in the zeitgeist from the classic “meat and two veg” model is fantastic news for the planet, animal welfare and our own health. Not to mention that when on a student budget, not eating meat is a wallet-saver. Meat-eaters and vegans alike all know that cutting down on meat and dairy is probably a good idea – so why isn’t everyone doing it?

The honest truth: to most people, meat tastes good. Cheese tastes good. I don’t think I could personally live without camembert, which is both an exposé of how middle-class I am and how difficult I would find it to go vegan. As a vegetarian of one year, I’ve been tempted by bacon sandwiches to cure a particularly nauseating hangover or the offer of a roast lamb at Easter. This is the point where I think that the average person gets put off being a veggie or a vegan: the prospect of never being able to eat meat or eggs again. The label of “vegetarian” scares some people; it’s too final of a sentence. If some people can’t commit to only sleeping with one person for a few months, do you really think they’re going to want to cut a whole food group out of their diet for the rest of their life?

I think our ‘all or nothing’ attitude towards vegetarianism and veganism needs to change. You can reduce your consumption without completely cutting it out, and that’s okay. You don’t have to go all the way to total carnivorous celibacy, but you can still make a difference. Eating meat doesn’t make you a bad person. Rather, the idea of doing your best to reduce meat consumption in a way that fits your lifestyle is a far more sustainable model of vegetarianism for the average person, and would be perhaps more attractive to people who are becoming more conscious of their impacts on the environment. Veggie martyrs who berate people for eating meat do far more harm than good to the overall cause of eating less animal-based produce. While of course spreading the normalisation of veggie/vegan diets in society is overall a fantastic thing for everyone, the prospect of being called a murderer because you forgot that Haribos have beef gelatine in them and scoffed a packed of Tangfastics is often what puts people off.

There may be many people out there who may want to start making changes in their meat-eating habits, but don’t have the faintest idea on where to start. I have some top tips that might help you along the way: First of all, you never need to use chicken in a curry or stir-fry ever again. Tofu has basically the same texture, and equally as little taste. Quorn mince is also a life saver, since you literally use it the same way you would beef mince. You might not eat meat as often as you think, anyway. Loads of meals are actually secretly vegetarian. Margherita pizza? Basically every soup ever? Tomato pasta? Guess what, no meat in sight. You don’t have to change a thing.

Every restaurant also has multiple veggie or vegan options now, and shocking though it may be, they’re actually really nice. Since not eating meat is now fashionable, loads of vegan restaurants have also popped up recently. The Gardener’s Arms in Jericho is a cute little pub that only serves vegan food, while Happy Friday Kitchen in Cowley serves “California-inspired vegan comfort food”, and gave me the best chicken burger I’ve ever eaten without even having any chicken in it. Who would have thought that aubergine would make a great bacon substitute?!.

Despite all these options, don’t worry if you can’t keep it up 24/7 like a vegetarian superhero (Soup-erman?). In the past year of being a veggie, I have slipped. Many, many times. I’m basically Pam from Gavin and Stacey. But that’s okay, or at least it should be. The way I’ve justified it to myself is that rather than completely cutting meat out of my diet, I will limit myself to special occasions. A birthday dinner at a nice restaurant? Screw it, I’ll get a burger. The reduction in my meat consumption from what it was before is what makes the difference. I’ve gone from eating meat nearly 14 times a week to eating it maybe once or twice a month. That’s a huge number of animals I haven’t contributed to the deaths of, carbon emissions I haven’t contributed towards and saturated fats I haven’t eaten. If everyone in the country tried to cut down their meat and dairy consumption even just a little bit, it would make a huge difference. It’s so easy, easier than many people think, to just have switch out meat when you’re feeling keen and green. You don’t have boycott Nandos for the rest of time; in the immortal words of Tesco, every little helps.

nine countries and a car named Claude

This summer, me and 5 of my friends went on the most stereotypically coming-of-age holiday possible. Comprised of 3 film students, a ballet dancer and two biologists, we had the makings of a semi-functional group of 3 couples that could just about bear to live in each other’s pockets for two weeks straight.

Our greatest blessing along the long and winding road to getting this idea of the ground was that one of the boys’ parents just so happened to have a spare Renault Espace lying around in their driveway. Why, you ask, was this people-carrier not being used to its full potential by the parents? Because it was “broken”, they said. It took 4 of us one afternoon to fix it using YouTube tutorials – and they call biology a soft subject.

Thus began the longest day of my entire life. I collected the car the afternoon before D-Day, and the troops descended, roof boxing and aux-cording it to within an inch of its life. The ferry was booked for 7am the next day from Harwich, which is disgusting enough on its own, let alone when you consider the fact we were leaving from the decidedly distant town of Sheffield. After a full day of prep and approximately 45 minutes of sleep, we set off at 1am on our adventure, equipped only with minimal planning and a keg of Desperado beer.

I was one of the three drivers (the other three essentially free-loaded their way across Europe in my opinion), so I had the great honour of driving for the first time on the right-handed (wrong) side of the road when we landed in Holland. For context, I’d driven on a total of one motorway before, full-stop, so as you can expect, I was fairly nervous. By the end of the trip, and to this day, I’ve driven further on the right-hand side than the left.

I drove us (expertly, may I add) to Amsterdam, where we found a cute campsite within walking distance of the centre. That evening, I saw my first real-life prostitute, drank my first full litre of beer, and walked about 10km, so overall it was an educational evening. By the time we made our way back to the campsite at 2am, I hadn’t slept in 42 hours and was what can only be described as “turious” (tired furious).  We did some more exploring the next morning, concluding that Amsterdam is a beautiful, vivacious city that I would love to come back to. As was the theme of the whole trip, we packed up and left in record time, stopping off for a dip on the North Coast of Holland, before driving the behemoth 700km to Berlin in a single evening. The logical thing to do upon arrival at midnight would be to go to bed and rest after this ordeal, so naturally we all headed out to some bars and got in at 5am, after some mozzarella sticks.

Berlin was personally a let-down, but I think we did it very wrong. We did spend most of our time there in Berlin Zoo, and seeing wombats was truly a highlight, but it wasn’t the wild time we expected. I mean, we ended up at an over-30’s disco on our last night there.

After Berlin we headed into the Saxon-Switzerland national park, which marks the beginning of my favourite section of the trip. Waking up in the morning with no idea where we would be sleeping the next evening would be a nightmare for some, but it was kind of thrilling to me (sorry, mum).

To the protest of many (me), we climbed a very steep hill to get to Bastei bridge, which is a centuries-old stone bridge built between these huge rock formations, looking out over a spectacular river valley. The sun was setting and nobody else was there when we were, which just made the views even sweeter. The next day we rowed a dinghy down that same river and got the view from the bottom up. These are the moments I was very glad that we had three very good photographers in the form of the resident film students; they have enriched my Instagram to no end.

Next up on our whirlwind European tour was Prague. As I’ve told everyone I’ve ever spoken to, Prague is amazingly cheap; I had 3 cocktails and a two course meal in a restaurant that came to £15 (I know?!). Unfortunately, the Astronomical clock was scaffolded up when we were there, so now I know how the tourists in London feel when they look at poorly Big Ben.

Country number four was Austria, where we happened upon a campsite right next to Lake Attersee. This serendipitous find gave us the best night of 2018. The sun was setting over the huge, turquoise lake as we put on our swimming costumes at light speed and jumped off the pier in into the water. The water was so warm and clean, and the sunset was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Once night had fallen, we then proceeded to drink a bottle of gin between the six of us. The evening was only marred by hearing rhythmic squeaks emerge from one of the other couple’s tents, which of course we recorded for future blackmail.

The next lake we arrived at was less tranquil. As we started looking for a place to camp, storm clouds rapidly descended, before erupting with waterfall-level torrential rain, accompanied by lightning bolts about 100m away from us. We drove through the night in this weather looking for any place we could stay, even considering sleeping in the car, before pulling up at a random hotel and begging for a room. The lady behind the desk had great chat, found us 3 single beds and gave us a free beer each, because “she was young once too”. Absolute legend.

The next day we stopped for a hot chocolate and a McDonalds up the only mountain in Liechtenstein, from which the view was the entire country (coincidentally, by area Liechtenstein is about the same size as Sheffield). This Maccies was neither the first nor the last one of the trip; we were forced by one of the boys to go to one in every country. After 9 countries, I swore to never eat there again.

Due to time constraints, the rest of the time was more road than trip; we drove through all of Switzerland and half of France in a single day. We had lunch in Luxembourg City, which was one of the most intensely European cities I’ve ever been to, before heading to Bruges. Bruges was like a PG version of Amsterdam, and I had a very nice but very expensive macaron. Our last night in Europe was spent in an Airbnb near Calais, which was filled with strange odds and ends such as a lamp cemented to a shoe.

The road trip was a tiring, sweaty ride but I made some of my best memories with some of the best people, at risk of sounding cliché. Plus, it only cost me 500 quid. Not too shabby for 3000 miles of European adventuring.

advice for Oxford students – from a sad grad

The second term of university is undoubtedly the worst term of the year. The excitement of Halloween and Christmas in first term has gone, and there’s still five months to go until the sun will finally rise once again for the summer. For many, this term can be a period where it’s easy to feel quite lost. I, as a third year, want to offer up some hard-earned advice from my time at Oxford, that hopefully will make this drag of a term a bit easier to swallow for people at uni everywhere.

1. Take lots of photographs. Be it on your phone, or with a real actual camera, you’ll regret not recording even the silliest moments when you’re gone. I think there’s about 5 inches of my wall not covered in pictures, which provides a nice reminder that fun does in fact exist for when I’m in dissertation crisis mode. Take enough pictures to make 40-year-old you jealous. They’ll long for the days of wrinkle-free fun.

2. If you’re the mum friend, make sure to occasionally give yourself some me-time and make your mates carry you home for once.

3. Don’t worry about collections. The literal worst case scenario would be to get 0%, and your tutor might give you a disgusted look – and that’s it. They are the mockiest of mock exams, and have absolutely no bearing on your prelims grade whatsoever. Speaking of prelims, also don’t worry about them. Hindsight makes me wish I hadn’t punished myself so much in my first Trinity term. While it’s a good way to test the waters of how revising for Oxford exams works, don’t skip that punting trip that all your friends are going on for the sake of exam that you really only need 40% on.

4. Trash responsibly – don’t trash your friends with eggs. They will get their revenge by trashing you with baked beans.

If you’re planning on jumping into the River Cherwell after you’ve been trashed, bear in mind that last year, a dead rat floated past my face. Depending on how much that concerns you, make your own decision.

5. Be kind to yourself. It’s easy to feel like you are doing less work than everyone else here, and that no matter how hard you try, you’re never good enough. The thing is – everyone else also feels like that. When you feel tired, stop. Have a cup of tea. Go to a friend’s room for a chat. Go find a new coffee shop in town. You’re not an essay-writing machine, you are a human who is allowed to do human things sometimes, and to not punish themselves for having a break.

6. Find your people – they do exist! I’m sure you’ve heard the classic line from older relatives: “university is where you’ll meet your best friends for life”. While some of you may have, and some of you may think you have, some of you also haven’t – and that’s okay. If you’re a fresher who hasn’t clicked with anyone in your accommodation, don’t fret. You have so much time left to find your people, and trust me, they’re here somewhere. At risk of sounding cliché, branch out and join sports clubs and societies that you’re interested in; literally everyone else there will share at least that interest with you by definition. Maybe you’ll also share other interests too, after all, recipes with oregano are usually tomato based (profound).

Some of you may have platonically loved and lost in your time here. Friends tend to come and go. I mean, just go through your Facebook friends list; there will be at least 200 people there that you haven’t thought about since year 8. Just because you’re feeling lonely now, doesn’t mean that you will forever.

Friendship groups are super incestuous. Your friends will sleep with each other, and there’s nothing to do to stop it. If you are one of the friends sleeping with each other, don’t keep it secret from your friends – that’s a really bad idea. Also, wear a condom.

7. Don’t mix port and Baileys. Just don’t.

Also, we’ve all thrown up outside Park End. Anyone who denies it is a dirty liar.

8. Try lots of new things! What’s the point of coming to a university with so many sports and societies to only stay in and work? Have a go at a martial art, write for a student newspaper (wink wink), go kayaking down the Cherwell, or even go to some life-drawing classes. I guess rowing is also a very Oxford experience to give a go too, but if you do, please make sure you’re able to hold at least one conversation a day without mentioning it.

Also, learn how to cook. Please, do it for me. I also used to think that I could get away with eating toast or an Uncle Ben’s ready meal every night. Then, I discovered that my organs would shut down if this continued for any longer than 5th week. Plus, cooking is a great way to procrastinate, and your tutor will accept “I was making dinner” as an excuse over “I was tagging my mates in memes” for why your essay was late.

9. Be nice to the people you share a toilet with, else they’ll leave the seat up every single time.

10. Invite your friends from home to come stay at least once, so that you can feel very smug showing them all the pretty buildings. That smug feeling will rapidly evaporate when they in turn show you their termly workload. Swings and roundabouts.

11. Mix up the libraries you work in. There are over 100 of them to choose from! College libraries have a unique charm, the Taylorian has a lovely view over St Giles, and all the others also have different qualities suited to different people. This one is more of a reminder to myself to actually go to the Rad Cam, which I haven’t managed to enter in my 3 years here. Maybe that’s why I’ve never got an Oxlove?

12. Speaking of Oxloves, if you haven’t got one yet, it’s because you haven’t written yourself one. I guarantee at least 80% of Oxloves are self-written in the hopes a friend will tag them, the person that they fancy will see, suddenly realise what they’re missing, and profess their love. I doubt that tactic has worked for anyone yet.

13. On a final note – there is an old saying that if you don’t leave Oxford with a first, a blue or a husband/wife, you’ve done it wrong. That’s total rubbish. Make your time here what you want it to be, not what other people expect it to be.

I hope these nuggets of wisdom have helped, or at least made the thought of the next 7 weeks/months/years feel less daunting – I made the mistakes so you don’t have to. Godspeed to all.