A breakdown of Oxford matriculation day

Dammit Oxford, you’ve done it again. Every time I start to think you’re just a regular university (and I get a grip on my city crush), you front up with some incredible romantic gesture and I fall head-over-heels all over again.

Yesterday was Matriculation, the day where freshers become official members of the Uni. For one day the town is overrun with students in subfusc – the official dress of white shirt, dark suit and bow-tie/ribbon – attending a traditional ceremony with their college cohort, and kicking on to celebrate…


Here’s an account of my day (in spotty detail):


I wake up excited…it’s like Boxing Day Sales morning! I agonise over how to get the subfusc garb right.

White shirt? Check…though probably should have committed iron to sleeves. No matter…I’ll go for the insouciant Carson Kressley sleeve tszuj.
Black skirt? Check….was it always this short/tight? Note to self – clotted cream is not a substitute for yoghurt.
Gown? Check…excellent, this kind of hides the rumpled shirt & Bridget Jones skirt.
Ribbon? Check…now should I leave it untied like a post-performance stripper, knotted like a bolo, or in a bow like a Parisian schoolgirl??

 8.30 – College roll call

The Sorting Hat’s song is pretty weird this year.

10.00 – Matriculation ceremony in the Sheldonian theatre


The Vice-Chancellor says some stuff in Latin which I’m pretty sure he’s making up as he goes along. Universitas, matriculatum, Oxfordatum, memberatum… yup. Total imitatum.

The sentiments he expresses (in English), however, are resonant and quite inspiring. Like a mewling infant, I feel welcomed into the University’s warm bosom.

11.00 – Champagne brunch at college


Omg I feel like landed gentry. Colonnades, people.

Everyone is rapturously buzzed, on the heady Oxford experience and bottles of bubbly. The instagramming is in full force.

18.00 – Prinking in Holywell Ford

I feel and look like a complete weirdo making my way to pre-drinks at what is essentially a Country Manor (complete with mill pond). I’m in a white strappy top, short black skirt and black heels…with only my skerrick of a subfusc gown to shield me from the curious eyes of the gandering geriatric tourists. I resign myself to the fact that I look like a flasher.

22.00 – St Cross ‘Sexy Subfusc’ Bop




In a scene from a Nicholas Sparks novel, a lovely Italian boy gives me a ride home on the front of his bicycle. The streets are awash with the faint glow of streetlamps, and it begins to patter with rain (I can’t even inject any sarcasm into this picture…it was honestly too poetic).

When he drops me off we exchange numbers but I know I’ll never call…I’d rather preserve this as a perfect romantic Oxford moment.

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