Oxford students go nuts when they finish their exams. This is a phenomenon that I am still trying to work out and would appreciate feedback on same. They queue up outside Schools and throw flour, eggs, sparkly glitter stuff all over eachother, they open cheap bottles of fizzy wine and spray that everywhere. Then you will see students, clearly just post-examination, walking around Oxford with their parents. This I do not get. I walked through main quad the other day and I heard a student say to her friend: 'Aw my Dad just dropped a crate of champaigne and some flowers...isn't that sweet? And he's calling by tomorrow and we're going for lunch.' [emph. mine...]. The friend then asked 'Oh are you finishing tomorrow?'.
I remember finishing my university exams and nobody went crazy, most of us were too tired to celebrate like that, and besides, we just got over it. It was just finished, the whole city didn't need to know about it. I don't think I even called my parents...it just wasn't such a big deal. I don't remember it being a big deal for others either.
I do remember this kind of behaviour, however, when I finished my Leaving Certificate (Eng. equiv.: A-Levels; God only knows in the States), which leads to my next controversial little observation. Oxford is basically an extension of boarding school. You are fed and watered, you have someone who cleans your room, you are taught one to one, etc. Most colleges usually identify themselves as undergrad-oriented, and do everything they can to strengthen that identity. As a graduate here there is very little real understanding at either College- or University-level of the needs of graduate students. This is changing, true, but not quickly. And I wonder on what exactly is all this energy being expended by the VC making the academics 'accountable' (whatever that means...), riling the dons in the process, making them suspicious of every move he makes. Sounds like a resigning issue to me to be honest.
But despite the best efforts of these people:
Oxford has fantastic archival material from a medievalist's point of view, so I shouldn't complain. And in Duke Humphrey's they are very nice to me, even though I am something Malcolm Parkes or Ralph Hanna would scrape off their shoes.