It's the end of the academic year, and we celebrated that with various events throughout the term!
Welcome Back Drinks, our termly drinks reception, was held at the start of term at Doctorow Hall in St Edmund Hall. Apart from the usual chips, alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, members were treated to seaweed packets, Mamee noodle snacks, and a kaya toast and teh tarik booth supplying hot Milo and teh tarik (complete with froth) throughout the evening! It was a great way for everyone to catch up after the Easter vac.
Our next big event for the term was Punts & Pints, where we took advantage of the lovely sunny weather to organise a leisurely afternoon picnic near Magdalen Bridge. Both seasoned and first-time punters had a great time enjoying the scenery, fresh air and snacks and sangria made lovingly by the committee members.
Our welfare rep Jefri also got busy this term helping to co-ordinate and organise the distribution of OUMSSA Welfare Packs! With most of our members having exams this term (Prelims and Finals), they certainly brought a smile to many faces. We also held OUMSSA Hangouts to cater to anyone who wanted a break from revision -- a Saturday morning Picnic in the Park alongside usual Saturday frisbee, and a chilled out movie night at St John's College, where we screened Get Smart.
We wrapped up the term with our Finalists' BBQ, where we said goodbye to and celebrated the hard work of our finalist friends, who will soon be leaving Oxford. The 2016-17 OUMSSA committee came out in full force and made everything from roast pork to sushi, much to the delight of everyone who attended!
As we usher in the summer months, we'd like to say goodbye to our friends who have finished their degrees or time at Oxford, and look forward to welcoming another batch of freshers. Thank you to all OUMSSA members who attended and supported our events; have a great summer and see you all next term!
Hello from the 2017-8 OUMSSA committee! We've just wrapped up Hilary Term, and plenty has happened in the past eight weeks!
We celebrated Chinese New Year with a delectable feast at My Sichuan Restaurant in Gloucester Green, which was packed to the brim with over 100 OUMSSA members and their guests. It was a great chance for everyone to catch up and usher in the New Year with authentic dishes like garlic prawns and the very well-received fried mantou with condensed milk! To add icing to the cake, everyone walked away with a jar of Yeo's laksa paste, which we're sure will be used in many dishes we cook in the months to come.
A few weeks later, we also held our Annual General Meeting at Jesus College on 11 February, in which the 2016-7 committee looked back on a year's worth of great work, and ushered in the 2017-8 committee after an exciting round of elections.
We then wrapped up Hilary Term with two OUMSSA hangouts -- a session of Friday night badminton at the end of 7th week, followed by a chilled-out board games session in 8th week for the less sporting-inclined.
Thank you to everyone to showed up for the events! The new committee hopes to carry on with the great work of our predecessors, and always look for ways to better serve the needs of our members! Stay tuned for more updates, and do check out our Facebook page for timely updates and event photos!
Oxmas dinner this year was slightly controversial when the details were released – because of the increase in expected turnout, we broke from tradition by choosing to cater at an external venue instead of cooking. In retrospect it was a good call – Wig and Pen was packed to the brim and then some (there were more people than chairs) and the food turned out pretty good too!
For the uninitiated, Oxmas is Oxford's way of celebrating Christmas: because term ends for the Christmas season, Christmas is celebrated a month before the actual event – 25 November. Oxmas dinner was held in the same week along with many other college and society Oxmas events.
Food was served buffet-style and it was a spread – sandwiches, chicken, profiteroles...longs queues naturally formed and devoured the food in due course. Some even went for second and thirds! After getting their food people sat together in the long tables (a la college halls, haha) and caught up with each other.
The comm directed our energies for cooking up a storm into putting up a good programme for everyone instead. We decked out in Christmas dress, decorated the function room and set up a rockin' sound system for the performances. About halfway into the night Du Xuan and Elaine kickstarted the performances with beautiful renditions of “Baby, It's Cold Outside” and “Last Christmas”. It was followed by Theophi who regaled us with his own poetic compositions, one about Singapore and one about a certain girl with whom he spent a night cooking and chatting (hehe). Next was Linus with the unbelievable rope trick which may have inspired a few would-be magicians. Becks and Sarah followed with “The Only Exception”. Yifan embarrassed himself by belting out Eason Chan's 圣诞节 having just learnt it the night before. Torsten was the showstopper, both literally and figuratively – his was the final act and he sang wonderfully. There was loud applause all round for our brave performers!
Then it was time to unveil the secret santas! Liki and Eewei, dressed as Santa and Rudolph respectively, enlisted the help of their elves (i.e. the rest of the comm) to deliver the gifts to everyone, who were pleasantly surprised. Following that the comm came out for a final performance to cap off the night, dancing to a cute Christmas jingle. It was so well received that we did an encore! (or it was mostly a chance for people to laugh at the comm haha)
The night was still young and the bar was still open, so many stayed back after the performances and dinner for drinks, to chat, take pictures, and dance to the groovy club music that had been turned on.
On the whole it was a good night. A learning point was maybe to do away with tables and just have chairs instead to allow people to mingle more freely. No matter what, it seems like Oxmas dinners in the future will be equally well-attended (: Thanks guys!
p.s.: In the spirit of Oxmas, we'd like to wish everyone Merry Christmas and Happy New Year (: here's to a great 2014!
For this year's Asian Food Festival, the Committee decided to attempt one of the most iconic Singaporean dishes around - chicken rice! We had in our minds fragrant grains of Thaihommali rice and juicy and tender chicken, accompanied by a kickass chilli sauce, and set out to find the perfect recipe i.e. Googling 'chicken rice recipe' and clicking on the first link in the search results.
In the kitchen...
We lived and breathed chicken, and tasted so much chicken (and rice) we're basically not gonna crave it for a good few months. Major major thanks to Becky the kitchen goddess and to all her housemates for putting up with a house that essentially smelled like chicken broth for two nights. And for trying to finish the chicken from the less successful first and second tries of our recipe!
And we finally moved it all to the Catholic Chaplaincy! We quickly formed into an assembly line of Singaporean efficiency - Liki scooping the rice, Du Xuan dishing out the chicken, Yu-Jia garnishing each plate with parsley, cucumber and spring onions, Eewei adding the chilli sauce, Nick collecting the money and Yifan and Becky promoting/serving plates of chicken.
Altogether we sold more than two hundred plates, which were enjoyed by Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans alike. The dizzying delicious plates of chicken rice had people coming back for more. Hahaha or at least we hope so.
THANKS EVERYONE FOR COMING! For OUMSSA members who came down, we hope we brought you a taste of home, even though it wasn't really priced like it. It's funny how food is such a part of our identity. Whenever you want chicken rice again, you can just ask us.... for the recipe. Happy garlic and ginger mincing!
Photo credits to Sara Sim, Yifan Zhang, Gan Yu-Jia, Isaac Lee
In keeping with what might be OUMSSA’s most sacred tradition, the committee kicked off the Michaelmas calendar with the ever-popular Welcome Back Drinks. Returning to the stately halls of Harris Manchester for a second time, the event as an opportune time for everyone to meet up after a long vacation, amidst an array of delectable snacks. With no end in sight to the supply of good food and drink (that most hallowed of Singaporean obsessions), conversation went on well into the night as everyone took the chance to catch up with friends old and new.
On display was an even wider selection of drinks than before, catered for both the discerning connosieur and the casual drinker. A whole range of mixers was available for the more daring and experimental, complemented by Singaporean tidbits brought back by generous society members. So whether you were a fan of bagua or Bacardi – there was something for everyone to reminisce over. And making its triumphant return was the now-familiar sight of the kaya toast stand, with our tireless Secretary Yu-Jia resuming her post to dish out lavish servings of kaya and butter (now flanked by helpful committee members to meet the inevitable demand).
But perhaps the main attraction, as always, was the people. With frenzied finalists and wide-eyed freshers both making the rounds, the stage was set for fantastic conversations. Old friends caught up and lamented the horrors of collections, while the newbies exchanged Fresher Week stories of terrifying tutors and nights out on the town. Summer vacation stories were swapped, with the more adventurous regaling others of their sojourns through Europe, while others rattled off an envy-inducing checklist of Singaporean foods they feasted on while back home. OUMSSA families got the chance to reunite too, with ‘kids’ already seeking advice on how to survive the dreaming spires from their battle-hardened ‘parents’.
It was a fantastic start to what will undoubtedly be another exciting year in Oxford – so check out some of our photos below, and look forward to more to come as your Committee enters its next term!
The Balkans, beauty as their lands are, are below the radar of many tourists due to their reputation for poor safety and infrastructure. Travelling from place to place without high-speed rail becomes (literally) a pain in the ass, but the region is safe: the local mafias do not engage in petty thefts and carjacking (it is, rather, done in Western Europe where there are nicer cars to steal, and then they get resold here).
Fortunately, that also means the Balkans are still untainted by the hordes of tourists on package tours which have afflicted the countries and cities that have marketed themselves better. In particular, Serbia, Macedonia and Albania still retain a ‘backpacker tourist’ atmosphere, which means that accommodation on the lower end of the market is still plentiful, incredibly cheap and of good quality – try that in London or Paris! There is also a considerable absence of the ‘party’ traveller crowd in the region as well, and most people follow the same route – you might even bump into the same people in the same few hostels again, and again…and again.
Time for some history: After centuries of domination by the Ottoman Empire, most of the countries in the Western Balkans became part of the former Yugoslavia, which arose out of the idea of a single state for all Southern Slavs. The breakup of the federation since 1990 led to the countries of Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo. Basically, the other republics feared the dominance of Serbia ever since the demagogue Serb Slobodan Milošević came to power and wanted out, triggering bloody wars of independence and NATO-led air strikes. Fortunately, peace has now come and travel is now perfectly safe in the Balkans. Except if you’re going to the weed-producing region near Gjirokastër, Albania, that is: when the Albanian police arrived there to clear the plantations, they were met with anti-tank missiles and heavy machine guns.
With some friends from junior college, I took a long loop in the Western Balkans through Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, and then Montenegro, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia. I arrived at Belgrade in a cool morning after long train journeys all the way from London. Almost of all the countries speak the same language (though they’d like to disagree) and I hoped that an extremely rudimentary knowledge of Russian (when spoken very slowly, it is intelligible with Serbo-Croat), failing English, could help me get what I needed.
In Serbia, we went on a day-trip with our guide, Dejan, a veteran of the Yugoslav army (he was posted to the Croatian border, and boasts wounds left by shrapnel on his body), to the monasteries in the forest in Fruska Gora. After visiting a monastery, Grgeteg, founded by the despot Vuk Grgurević Branković, known as ‘Wolf the Fire-Dragon’, we stopped by Mirko’s (one of Dejan’s friends) ranch in Neradin for some siesta time. Situated in the rolling Vojvodinan countryside, Mirko explains that Neradin means ‘no work’ in Serbian, and we relaxed by drinking elderflower cordial and the house rakija (Serbian whiskey, families brew their own). He brings us to an old road that was used by the Romans – ‘they still find Roman coins there, and remember – Serbia produced the largest number of [the late] Roman emperors!’ – translates Dejan – and invites us to taste his produce – fresh apples and plums.
The former Yugoslavia has been burdened by its exceptionally recent historical baggage, and it still lingers in the psyches of many there today. There is ‘big, cool (but not necessarily good) brother Serbia’ – Belgrade boasts one of the best nightlife in the entire region, yet Serbian politicians ignore Kosovo’s plea for independence. Croatia (and also, Slovenia), has abandoned the family and went on to join the EU, but not without murderous exploits – for all the mutual animosity, they even teamed up with Serbia in an attempt to carve up Bosnia. On the other hand, Bosnia is now split into two, the Bosnian (Muslim and Croat) part and the Serb part (known as the Srpska Republic), and shrapnel can be seen all over Bosnia (our host in Mostar even had a personal collection of leftover ordnance!)
But nonetheless what all these people shared, after all these years of killing each other, was generosity, trust, and hospitality. After visiting sights, we walked into restaurants and locals invited us to share some of the food on their plates; dinner with friends involved sipping shot after shot of homemade rakija (my favourite is the peach). It wasn’t merely about the ticking of boxes and covering more ground and looking at the sights, but rather, as a visitor (invited or not), to see a different way of life in a foreign land.
Chin Zhi Hui
Earlier this summer, Sarah Siaw, Howard Chiu and WQ spent ten weeks in Uganda and Kenya on one of the programmes offered at Oxford - Education Partnerships Africa. They share their experiences below:
Following on the heels of our Freshers’ Tea 2013, OUMSSA members got together once again for the annual chalet at Pasir Ris Home Team. While the chalet has traditionally been for incoming freshers to get to know one another better, this year’s event saw an impressive turn-out from the second and third years.
The chalet featured a game show theme where participants were randomly thrown into groups (named lovingly after ‘English’ food- Eton Mess, Fish & Chips, Bangers & Mash, Hassan’s Kebab, Mushy Peas and the world-renowned Tesco Meal Deal) and pitted against one another in epic battles of wit/creativity/dance moves/thickskinness.
The grand finale of the chalet took after popular Chinese dating show 非诚勿扰 (which literally means “not sincere don’t bother” though a quick entry into Google translate gives us “You Are The One”..), where groups sent forth one male human sacrifice each who had to display their various talents (cartwheels and calf-flexing were very well received) and had to be subjected to the grueling questions of a panel of 9 ‘single ladies’ (half of whom were not in fact single). While this might or might not have been a discreet attempt to get sponsorship from SDU, we gladly conclude that no hearts were broken in the process.
All in all, the chalet was a huge success, and all of us walked away with many stories to tell and many new friendships forged! Look out for the complete collection of photos coming soon on Facebook (:
The way I discovered the Sommerhochschule was pretty unimpressive - Googled 'summer schools in Europe' and ended up with this, which seemed to perfectly fit into my calendar. But when the organisers knew me by name the moment I walked into the campus, I knew that this was going to be a very special experience.
The Sommerhochschule is organized by the University of Vienna, offering courses in European studies and the German language. However, the programme itself was not held in Vienna, but Strobl, a village just off Salzburg, and next to the Wolfgangsee.
Freshers’ Tea, our first OUMSSA event of the summer, was a boisterous affair held on 17 August at The Florida’s function room. The 75-strong turnout proved a tad too crowded for the room’s official capacity of 50 people, so some resorted to socializing outdoors, notwithstanding the heavy showers that afternoon.