Ice Skating in Oxford 

Emma Gray

Hilary Term, 2019


This past spring I had the privilege of studying as a Registered Visiting Student at the University of Oxford, one of the most highly esteemed institutions in the world of academia. Attending the University of Oxford has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and perhaps surprisingly it was not solely because of the outstanding academics.

One of SCIO’s orientation lectures is dedicated to discussing the various sports teams, clubs, and societies at the University of Oxford. Students are encouraged to look at the University’s website and explore the dozens of activities offered. Despite having decided to limit my extracurricular activities while at Oxford, within a few days I found myself scrolling through the University’s website. The rest of this story will be aided by a bit of context into my personal life outside academia: since the age of ten I have never been far from an ice rink; I was a competitive figure skater, training six days a week, three hours a day, for eight years of my life. When I began higher education, I took a step away from the competitive arena, but I still skate recreationally and work at an ice rink while studying for my degree at my home university. Knowing this context, it was only natural that the ‘Ice Skating’ tab on the website piqued my interest. I decided to take the risk and show up the next week, completely unsure of what to expect.

When I arrived at the rink the following Sunday I was warmly greeted by the president of the OxIce Skating Society and several other friendly students, each passionate about providing a fun experience for students to learn the basics of ice skating. I enjoyed the session, especially the interactions I had with other students. My years of training were evident, and the president of the society asked after the session if I would like to come back the following week to coach one of the classes. I happily accepted, and from then on I was an active member of the OxIce Skating Society.

Although I was nervous and skeptical going into the experience, being part of the society provided me with a healthy distraction from the rigors and challenges of academia and helped me develop numerous friendships. It positively influenced my academics, giving me a mental break before the beginning of each week, and was essential to the success of my overall experience at the University.

In writing this article I want to be clear in saying I am not advocating that it is absolutely necessary to be involved in extracurricular activities at the University: there are plenty of academic opportunities to explore that are extremely valuable to one’s development as a scholar. For example, I was able to attend a seminar given by the author of a book upon which I had built one of my arguments for my undergraduate research seminar, and I was lucky enough to speak with him afterwards about my ideas. Experiences such as this are not available at every university, and it is a privilege that SCIO students are given these opportunities. Take full advantage of them!

My best advice to those anticipating coming to Oxford who are looking to become involved in an extracurricular activity, but feel unsure would be “just do it.” Whether it be trying out for one of the numerous college choirs or joining a society where you don’t know anyone, take the risk, show up and find your niche in Oxford! There is something for everyone, it just takes courage to take the chance and find what interests you.