‘Everyone at Oriel is friendly and willing to help’
Interview conducted by Chloe Whitehead
Nick, one of Oriel’s dedicated food preparation assistants, started working in College as a kitchen porter in early July this year. Born in Oxford when the Westgate shopping centre was still terraced housing, he enjoys walking along the beautiful canals and riverbanks, punting, and fishing.
My favourite thing about working at Oriel is my colleagues, and the opportunity to meet different people, experience different cultures. Over the summer there were a lot of Chinese students here for two weeks, and there were different kinds of food and cultural values about eating. It was also very hot in the kitchens!
I’ve had a look around the quads of Oriel, but one of my favourite spots is Carter House, on Oriel Street. [Side note, readers: you should definitely look up to those multi-coloured houses more often, they’re so pretty!]. The portraits in Hall and the Champneys Room are also really interesting; I like to know about the history. I keep meaning to go in the chapel as well.
I was born in Oxford, in a terraced house that stood where the Westgate shopping centre is. I think it’s now a car park. I studied for my A levels here as well, and have also previously worked for Jesus and Christ Church colleges as a gardener. I came back to Oxford about 8-10 years ago after living and working all over: London, Brighton, Leicester, Bristol.
Some of my favourite things about the city are its nature spots. The canals, Port Meadow, University Parks; I enjoy walking around them after work. Punting is nice in summer. I’ve been punting since the age of 7; it’s much harder here than Cambridge as the river is deeper – it leads into the River Thames. I also like the historical architecture, especially in different seasons and lights. May Day is something I always have a day off for. When I was younger I used to stay out all night, but now I make sure to get an early night and set my alarm [laughs]. All sorts of people congregate, students and townspeople.
One of the challenges of working here is knowing the timings of meals, and when there are speeches happening at dinner; knowing when to bring the food out. It takes getting used to, and you have to be organised, especially getting people’s allergy requirements right. And also making sure to get here on time, much like any job. But everyone at Oriel is friendly and willing to help.
At Christmas we have about two weeks off as College is closed, so I’ll make the most of it and see my mum and sister’s family, who live in Oxford. I’m lucky they live so close.
Nick’s best advice to students: make sure you actually eat fruit and get your vitamins! (Very, very wise words).