Life at Magdalen: Mor

26 February 2024

We caught up with Mor, a second year English & German student, to chat about all things Magdalen: from the Oscar Wilde Dinner and the art in the JCR, to Oxford’s best kept secrets and the best linguistics podcasts.

What does Magdalen mean to you?

I’ve actually been asked by people, ‘what is Magdalen’s vibe?’. Magdalen may be big, but it doesn’t have a particular reputation in the same way that other colleges do. Magdalen for me is about feeling at home in grandiose buildings, or the friendliness of Magdalenites – we wave at each other in the street and say, ‘hello!’ I’m at a college where I can feel part of a rich and long-standing history, such as by helping to host the Oscar Wilde Dinner in October 2023.

Magdalen for me is about feeling at home in grandiose buildings, or the friendliness of Magdalenites – we wave at each other in the street and say, ‘hello!’

What interested you about studying English and German?

English & German is a dual honours – part of the reason I chose Oxford! It allows me to mix and match with the literature and culture of two very discrete yet coordinating cultures. 

I admittedly originally applied for German & Philosophy. What interested me about German was that ‘German’ is really a very new concept – Germany has only been a united place since 1871, and even then, that didn’t last more than 74 years. Germany therefore has some very evident splits – North-South and East-West, which are present in its literature and film. Equally, Germany is a country constantly trying to consider how to handle and bear an overwhelmingly traumatic and horrific past, which often isn’t fun, but it is intriguing.

I probably should’ve originally chosen English, as my German teacher at A-Level said as much (and I stubbornly ignored him). English is about grappling with others’ conceptions of our internal and external world as much as any other subject is, but the way English embraces ambiguity is really admirable. 

What’s been the biggest highlight of your time at Magdalen?

The Oscar Wilde Dinner! Such great fun with a little performance of an adapted section from Dorian Gray, as well as speeches from me and Dr Robert Douglas-Fairhurst. The catering staff were even generous enough to suspend the plan for a veggie formal based on the fact that Wilde would probably have been quite  opposed. 

Where’s your favourite spot in College?

Not in college, but on college land: the Botanic Gardens. I didn’t go until a friend from home dragged me, and it’s so very, very, very serene. 

What’s Oxford’s best kept secret?

Its LGBTQ+ scene. Some people imagine Oxford as a city permanently locked within a closet (thanks, Saltburn) but it’s the city where I finally said a big ‘hello’ to my trans narrative arc. 

What about Magdalen’s?

The art in the library – there’s some big names in there, like Turner. I only learned this when helping to elect the JCR Art Curator. Definitely worth a good gawk. 

How do you relax?

A lot of my work is very reading and writing-oriented, so doing something wordless is always good – knitting is good fun. Also, students have to cook, but I deeply adore cooking. It’s a daily act of self-care that really gets overlooked by the practicality of shoving some kind of nutrient down your gaping maw. 

Who should we be following on socials?

Mina Le: I was just watching a video of hers on social alienation and a lack of third spaces for people to meet. We’re very fortunate to be in a university city with plenty of social spaces here in Oxford. Also, as it is  the centenary year of his death, “The Sunny Side of Franz Kafka” is a wonderful Twitter account posting the brighter moments from Kafka’s diaries. 

We’re very fortunate to be in a university city with plenty of social spaces here in Oxford.

What are you listening to right now?

I mostly listen to podcasts and stay very coy about my music taste – but here’s a few recommendations:

Any music by Belle & Sebastian is worth listening to; their music got me through my A-Levels;

Lingthusiasm (linguistics), Save Me From My Shelf (literature), The Rest is History (history) and The History of Philosophy Without any Gaps (philosophy) are all fun academic podcasts;

I tend not to listen to We Have Ways of Making You Talk, but my German tutor, Dr Alex Lloyd, had a fabulous appearance discussing her research into the White Rose anti-Nazi resistance movement;

I keep listening to “No Children” by The Mountain Goats.

How would you spend your perfect day?

I’m a humanities student, of course I lie in until about eleven each day! (etc, etc). Assuming a day without  work: wake up, coffee and veggie sausage sandwich. Morning walk in Addison’s Walk, wave at the deer. Then, spend several moments deliberating about which library in Oxford to go to, before inevitably concluding the Vere Harmsworth, which has funky implements on its windows which whirr and move every now and again, read more of my book and knit, maybe write some poetry in preparation for Florio (the Magdalen poetry society).  Najar’s for lunch – halloumi and falafel wrap? Yes! Then, wild swimming with friends at Port Meadow in the afternoon, before Hall Dinner and afterwards going to the theatre or a concert to see someone I know performing. 

Tell us a joke.

You’re publishing this, right? Maybe we should avoid letting me tell jokes….