If you’re like me, you may have a lingering question about life at an Oxford MBA. If you’re like me, you’re subscribed to the YouTube channel, you’ve attended the webinars, and you’ve peppered some good-willed students with your questions. However, that question still remains: what does a typical day look like?
In this spirit, I kept track of a single day, from start to finish, and recorded it here. It’s a typical Autumn Tuesday, in the middle of Michaelmas term. Though it happened to be a particularly busy day, it’s otherwise quite normal.
I hope this helps to give you some picture of what you could expect if you have the opportunity (and privilege) to join the Oxford MBA.
7:15: I wake up in my couple’s studio. It’s a little far from the High Street, but Miyuki, my fiancée, and I love how it’s close to Jericho, the School, and, most importantly, Port Meadow. I get ready and head out the door around 7:45. I ride my bike so I can get from one place to the next and make the most of my day.
8:00: I walk into a café in the Jericho neighbourhood and head for a table full of familiar faces towards the back. This is a ‘Blockchain Breakfast’, which runs from 8:00 to 10:00 every Tuesday morning. It’s a student-run group, the brainchild of one of my classmates, Sammi.
Today, we catch up on some of the latest news and industry developments happening around blockchain. We also have some projects in the pipeline related to coding, creating blockchain applications, and career experiences. The newly expanded leadership team is also announced. We’re growing quickly, so it’s a great chance for other students to get involved in running the group and its projects. Unfortunately, I have class soon, so I duck out early, around 8:50.
9:00: I grab a quick cup of coffee and head to my Business Finance Class. Although Covid-19 is still a spectre hanging in the background, Saïd Business School does its best to make sure everything is in person. We take our classes in sections of 40, which leaves plenty of space in the classroom itself. Masks are ‘highly encouraged’, so they’re a pretty common sight around the School. Classes are still broadcast and recorded on Zoom as well. This gives everyone the option to stay home if they’re feeling unwell or need to quarantine. This is also quite common. Everyone is very flexible and accommodating – classmates, administration, and professors included.
12:30: After class, I head straight to an appointment with one of the career advisors. I’ve been to several of these appointments so far. They’ve all been very useful. At first, it was a great way to sound out some ideas and strategies for my career search. Everyone keeps telling me that the year passes quickly, so I want to get a head start. I have already noticed that the conversations are getting more specific. Hopefully, this means I’m on the right track.
I’ve had some (modest) success with networking and reaching out to boosters lately. This was promptly followed by me staring at the screen and asking, ‘What now?’ Together, the career coach and I talk through next steps and strategy. It takes less than 30 minutes, and I leave feeling much more confident and comfortable than when I came in.
13:00: Lunch! Oh, my goodness. I love lunch. I’ll also let you in on a little secret: the School serves some of the best food for the best prices anywhere in Oxford. Every day there are three options (and additional vegetarian options). Today, like most days, I spend a minute staring at the menu and trying to decide which option to pick. I end up picking the Cajun chicken thighs, which are delicious. It’s actually so tasty that I completely neglect to take a picture for the blog (sorry).
In addition to the food, the cafe has a wonderful atmosphere. The staff are incredibly friendly. Jennifer, Julie, and Anna are very familiar faces around the School. They probably know more of my classmates than I do, and they’re always putting in the extra effort to make everyone feel welcome. Lunch is also a great time to catch up with classmates. Today, I grab a quick bite with Nouss, who is a group member turned good friend. We catch up with weekend stories and commiserate over the latest projects before heading off in different directions.
14:00: I ride my bike back home to my apartment. I’m a little sleepy after class and a big lunch. Plus, I have a busy night ahead. I take a quick nap. Afterwards, I sit down for a couple of hours to do some preparation work for tomorrow’s class. I have reading, pre-recorded lectures, and a case to look over. I spend a couple of hours working through it all. Miyuki comes home, which is a good chance for me to take a little break; we have a snack and chat about each other’s day.
My schedule is pretty tight. I’m able to finish about 80% of the reading and take-home activities for tomorrow’s class. This will have to do for today. I’m close enough that I can finish the rest in the morning.
18:00: it’s time to get ready for dinner. I’m visiting another friend and classmate, Naga, at a formal dinner at his college. This normally means you need to wear a jacket, tie, or your Oxford gown (which is an old tradition here at the University). Tonight, dinner calls for a jacket and Oxford gown. I say goodbye to Miyuki, hop on my bicycle, and ride across town to Merton College.
18:30: I pull up to Merton’s front gate to meet Naga. We park our bikes and head inside. Trading formal dinners is a common pastime at Oxford. Since you’re only allowed access to your own college, people get around this by inviting guests around for formal dinners and informal tours. Traditionally, the guest then returns the favour at their college a short time later. This is a lovely way to see more of the special places within Oxford.
Naga gives me a tour around the grounds at Merton. It’s really beautiful and spacious. I’m blown away by the sprawling gardens and the towering chapel. Both are gigantic compared to my college, Lincoln (though it makes up for it in other ways). From what Naga tells me, they have one of the highest ratios of space per student of any college. My personal highlight is a round stone table towards the back wall. Apparently, this is where Tolkien used to hold meetings with his students. I sit down and take it all in. You need to pause and reflect like this every once in a while. Otherwise, you’ll miss it.
We head over to the dining hall for dinner. There are long tables that stretch down the length of the hall, topped with silverware and candles. We take our seats and catch up on our week. Class comes up right away as a topic, but we try to steer clear of it before long. We prefer to talk about college life, our partners, and our work outside the classroom. We hear a loud knock. This is a common cue for everyone to stand up and remain silent while the college fellows walk up to the high table. Once they’re at their places, someone says grace in Latin and then everyone sits down to start dinner.
Dinner is lovely. It comes out in four different courses, and we share a bottle of wine I brought from home. We also get to know some students sitting next to us.
They’re on an official exchange dinner from Keble College. One of the lovely things about the Oxford college system (and an Oxford MBA) is that you get to talk with all kinds of interesting people from outside your discipline. I’ve met people who study theoretical mathematics, Latin love poetry, public policy, and much more.
After dinner, I thank Naga for a wonderful meal, and I head back out on the road.
20:50: The last stop of the day is baseball practice. I bike down to Iffley Sports Centre and change into my workout gear. I’ve been playing baseball for a few weeks now. It’s an interesting mix of seasoned veterans and neophytes. It’s also a very diverse team. We have Americans, Koreans, Japanese, and many others who come out to play. We’ve been quite competitive in the past few years, and we’re hoping to perform well again this year.
We won our first game 23-3, so everything is off to a good start. Baseball is quite uncommon here in the UK, so the team doesn’t have a long history. I see this as a nice opportunity to help contribute to a new culture and legacy at Oxford. As you can imagine, the opportunities don’t come around often in Oxford. We spend an hour and a half stretching, doing drills, and running through game scenarios. Around 22:30, we pack up the equipment and head home.
23:00: I finally make it back to my apartment. It’s been a long day, so I just get ready for bed. The last thing I do is jot down a quick ‘to-do’ list of some of the things I need to get done tomorrow. There’s always more ahead, and tomorrow is no exception. I climb into bed, tired and excited to get up and do it all over again in the morning.