Matthew Pon







By Matthew Pon

There is little time left for petty things like sleep

It’s been 3 weeks now since the MFE pre-course started, and they have really flown by. One of the common messages from the many alums that spoke to us over the first week was to prioritize our time well, but the difficulty of that doesn’t sink in until you’re in the thick of it, figuring out how to work the 20+ career events into the first few weeks of classes (seriously, who has that many suits?) Amidst the b-r-u-t-a-l accounting exam last week, all of the college events, the 30+ student groups that you can’t help but sign up for, and all that comes with looking for a job, little time is left for petty things like sleep, as Dr. Tomo Suzuki will remind you.

For many of us, coming to Oxford has been a lifelong dream, and despite the confident delivery of our answers to interviewers a year ago, our reasons for wanting to be here, at least for me, were difficult to grasp in a concrete way. But over the past three weeks, I have come to appreciate a few things:

  1. The students in this year’s MFE class are without a doubt the most impressive group of people that I have ever had the privilege of being a part of, measured by not only intellect, but also humility, passion, altruism, and resolve.
  2. There is truly nothing that can replicate the awe invoked upon realizing that a lecturer standing 10 feet away from you is impacting the world in a tangible way. This for me has morphed mere ‘lectures’ into rare and privileged opportunities, and the abundance of these to follow is the sole reason I wake up every single morning at 5am. (Definitely has nothing to do with sneaking in for the free MBA morning pastries & tea)
  3. Those who come to Oxford for a degree, as I originally intended to, are misguided. World-class academics are merely the surface of what this institution has to offer, and engaging in the highly obscure (which is how I would best describe some of the activities here – underwater hockey, what?) enriches the experience in a way that I’ve already felt in my first weeks here.

Moving onto some advice to future students before I risk sounding too much like an advertisement:

  1. Bring a fat wallet, because life here is very expensive.
  2. Be comfortable with riding a bike, because when I look at my classmates that walk around the city, I see pieces of their souls dying a little every single day.
  3. Research careers and get a head start on job applications before coming, because it’s depressing to see half of the class in the library every night completing assessment tests and crafting answers to ‘competency-based questions’.

Before signing off, I’d like to finish by injecting a little more color with a personal highlight reel of my first few weeks here (both good and bad):

  1. Walking into my temporary room at the Kenyon building (St. Hugh’s College accommodation – STAY AWAY – splurge on Maplethorpe or Dickson Poon instead) and seeing an inch-tall gap across the top of the entire breadth of the window that was a permanent opening to the outside 😐
  2. 2 Faucets. 1 Hot. 1 Cold. …WHY?
  3. Tesco. £0.17. 2L bottle of water. Does life get any better?
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