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I’m not quite done with the things (“things” being reading a biography of Lindemann) I’m trying to accomplish for today, but just to get this up before technically it becomes tomorrow:

15th July - Do you have a specific goal for this summer?

The biggest thing I want to accomplish is probably a better understanding of decolonising physics - ideally even communicating my conclusions to someone who can implement some changes - and I feel like I’ve learnt a good deal about Lindemann in the past 36 hours, enough to email my tutor preliminary thoughts tomorrow I hope? And then, of course, there’s exams. But I’ve also got a few fun smaller goals…

  • knit a hat for my boyfriend! I have the yarn, I was going to do it for his birthday, I’m not going to see him until October so I didn’t end up doing it for his birthday, but I still want to get it done before October
  • bake profiteroles with sticky toffee topping! I’ve always put chocolate sauce on them before, but apparently some people like it with sticky toffee so I want to learn that too
  • read the rest of Energy Science by Andrews and Jelley! How I’m going to manage this one when it was apparently only available online until the end of June I haven’t figured out yet but maybe I can get some extra practice in emailing professors and get it that way?

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Despite what it might look like, this object is *not* a chocolate coin wrapper. It is something called the Ballyshannon sun disc, one of the treasures in our collections. ⁠

This small decorated gold-foil disc was found in 1669 at Ballyshannon, Ireland, by men looking for a place described in an old Irish song where ‘a man of a gigantick stature’ was buried with gold ornaments. The discovery is recorded in the 1695 edition of Camden’s Britannia (first published in 1586), the first major regional account of the history and antiquities of Britain and Ireland. ⁠

The disc is made of a thin sheet of beaten gold, and has raised decoration (repoussé) of a cross-shape surrounded by circles and geometric patterns. Objects such as this are known as 'sun-discs’ and are one of the earliest forms of sheet gold-work found in Britain and Ireland, dating to around 2500-2150 BC. Many discs are pierced in the centre with two holes that may have been used to sew them to a piece of clothing or a head-dress, perhaps in pairs. This is one of a pair of two very similar discs that were recorded as being found at Ballyshannon. It was donated to the Ashmolean in 1696, but the fate of the other is unknown.⁠

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Hey anon! Thanks for writing again!

English Lang lit is also a super interesting topic! One of my personal favourites :)

Of course it’s going to be a much more stressful process while you’re still in school but hey! applying is still going to be an interesting experience, so good luck 😊👍

Also I don’t live in the UK so I can’t visit the campus and see the colleges. But I have been looking at their websites, watching videos, and using google maps. I’m not sure at the moment, but hopefully I’ll make a decision soon.

Visiting the colleges seems super exciting! Which ones did you see? What are they like? And did one in particular stand out?

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Lina’s Self-studies, Day 1: 

The past week I have been researching books to read in preparation for a PPE (philosophy, politics, and economics) degree. I was able to compile a list, both from my own research and interests as well as official Oxbridge suggestions. Today I did three sessions, where I read a book from each subject and took notes. I haven’t studied in months, so I was expecting myself to get distracted, but thankfully that didn’t happen.


I started reading “What is Philosophy For?” by Mary Midgley. I quickly realized that this book is not for me. I was expecting it to be a sort of introduction to philosophy, explaining why the subject is important. Instead it seems like the book is targeting those familiar with the field (aka not me!). In the first few chapters Midgley name drops examples assuming her readers are already familiar with them. She also talks a lot about how educational institutions should teach the subject, and criticizes various some universities’ approaches. I’m not saying this book is bad, but it’s obviously not written for me, and I’m not going to continue it any further. At least for now. 


I worked on “Politics: Ideas in Profile” by David Runciman. This was the one I engaged with the most (but that’s probably cause I’ve been studying politics for the past two years while the other subjects are completely unfamiliar to me). So far it seems like Runciman is going to explore politics in general, relying on the case studies of Denmark and Syria (exploring why one country is war-torn and impoverished while the other is stable and more economically developed). He mentioned various questions that he will be answering throughout the book, and they seemed quite interesting to me:

1. How can the same word – politics – encompass such different societies as safe, boring Denmark and chaotic, miserable Syria?

2. How can politics continue to make all the difference when we are living through a time of such rapid technological change?

3. If politics is what makes the difference, why do we tolerate such vast discrepancies between the world’s most successful states and its least successful ones?

Because I have a background in the subject, I tried to answer these three questions, and I’m excited to see how my answers differ from (and possibly overlap with) the writer’s. I also think it would be cool to answer the same questions once I’ve finished the book and see if my opinions change. 

One interesting point that Runciman brought up is that “good politics is both a symptom and a cause of the transition.” Basically, it goes two ways. Political stability is the result of institutions that prevent disagreements from escalating. But at the same time, these institutions are built by political stability. So good politics is both a consequence and cause of stable and peaceful structures. 


I had assumed this topic would be the most boring, but was surprised that it was actually quite engaging. I began reading “Arguing with Zombies” by Paul Krugman. It’s quite US centric (which is to be expected) but still very interesting. It seems to be a collection of articles/essays Krugman wrote for the New York Times. The main point of the book is to shed light on what he refers to as “zombie ideas”. These are “ideas that should have been killed by contrary evidence, but instead keep shambling along, eating people’s brains.” 

I still haven’t reached much of the actual articles, but in the introduction, Krugman talked about the politicization of subjects like economy, and shared a quote which stood out to me:  “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” He also outlined the topics he’s going to be delving into, all of which are things I’m already interested in and excited to learn more about. 

I am definitely going to continue this book, but probably in tandem with an introduction to economics. I’ve researched some but most aren’t available as ebooks yet. So I’m probably going to rely on the IB economics textbook for now, which I already have. 

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Originally posted by jiastudies

My name’s Lina, and here’s the situation: I got an unexpectedly high IB grade (45, aka full mark). Basically I aced it. Now I’m reconsidering my options and have decided to apply to Oxford. I know I’m not going to get in. The chances are way too low. But I have a lot of free time and it’s worth giving my best shot. What’s the worst that could happen?

So over the next few months I’m going to be reading and studying independently to best prepare myself for a PPE (philosophy, politics, and economics) interview. I’m challenging myself to write a reflection on each book I read and each topic I explore. 

I’ll be sharing it all with you to keep myself (and maybe you) motivated. Let’s see what we can do!

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