November 02, 2014
Adam Witham '16
Editors' Note: Adam Witham '16 from Roanoke, Virginia, is a Venable Scholar. Adam and Will Brantley '16 are studying at Oxford. Will is at Worcester College, and we will hear from him later.
The Michaelmas term is well under way here at Oxford, and I finally feel settled.
I am a student at St Edmund Hall, known here as Teddy Hall. Dating back to the early thirteenth century, St Edmund Hall is certainly one of the older Oxford colleges. "Hall spirit" is one of the greatest reasons why I love my college. Other Oxfordians can always pick out a Teddy from their claret and gold gear, extreme competitiveness, and their excessive chanting. On any given day of the week, you will hear a student cry, "TEDDY TEDDY TEDDY!" Another Teddy almost undoubtedly will follow up with "HALL HALL HALL!" This practice often continues until fantastically early morning hours.
At Teddy Hall, I read mathematics. I attend maths lectures every day in the newly constructed Mathematical Institute. My tutorials this term are in analysis, linear algebra, and probability theory. Having 25-30 proofs a week for the tutorials can seem a tad foreboding. But after a while, methods for approaching proofs seem more apparent.
After somehow managing to complete all of the proofs and finish readings, one finds time to participate in clubs and societies. I am a member of the St Edmund Hall Boat Club. In just a few short weeks, I will be rowing at the bow in my first regatta. I have not yet mastered feathering (the precise art of keeping the spoon of an oar parallel and out of the water for all of the two seconds between strokes), but I refuse to quit. Despite the 5:30 a.m. wakeup times and 30 degree "beautiful"-windy and rainy-British weather, I still head out for some great morning outings.
In addition, I am a member of the Oxford Blind Tasting Society. Eight unknown wines are assessed every week for acidity, composition, body, the presence or lack of oak, and tannins. Then we attempt (often unsuccessfully) to identify the grape variety, year, and source. But after learning more about different vintages, many of us will start competitive "taste-offs" against other British universities and clubs.
Attending Oxford in term is an experience like no other. I highly recommend Hampden-Sydney students desiring an immersive, highly academic culture to apply. You will have the time of your life.