Vendy Fialkova, First Year at St Hilda's College, reading Mathematics.               

As usual, I open my eyes just a few minutes before my alarm goes off at half past seven. Taking advantage of the fact that most people on my corridor are still snug in their beds, not having any lectures or tutorials for several more hours, I head straight for the kitchen to make myself breakfast without competing for space. Within about an hour, I am ready to start my day.

As a mathematician, I like regular patterns. Therefore I don`t mind having 9am lectures, as they give my days a nice time frame to work with. Mornings are spent at the department, but then I usually give myself a break by going for a run in Port Meadow, a beautiful, relaxing and utterly stress-free area of grazing land close to the Mathematical Institute which has not been ploughed for 4,000 years and where horse and cows roam. I enjoy the chance to get out of the streets and run into the green open space of the meadows, watching squirrels, geese, horses, and cows, all of which let me pass without giving me a second glance.

After returning to Hilda`s and cooking lunch, it is time to settle down in the library, where, surrounded by other students writing their essays, I work through my problem sheets. They have to be handed in at different times throughout the week before the tutorials, so I always have something that needs to be done. On the other hand, five problem sheets per week is not too bad, and I usually do a substantial part of them on weekends, when I can focus on them for a longer time without interruption.

But don`t think that the only thing I do here is work. It does fill my time, but I also lead a normal life – I stop by the shops on my way to the department to get groceries and stationery, cook for myself, and defy all stereotypes of antisocial mathematicians by spending substantial amounts of time with friends. I particularly refuse to work after dinner, because for me that is the time to relax, catch up and have fun. Time flies when one is enjoying oneself, so generally I get to bed around midnight, exhausted but satisfied, the hours spent in friendly company motivating me to prepare myself for the upcoming day.


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