Interview by Michael Angerer
George Mundy, our first peer supporter to be interviewed for The Poor Print, is from the ‘lovely little pseudo-village’ of Hampton Hill. He is in his second year of studying Biochemistry, and he plays lacrosse, basketball, and Nintendo. George lives in the Dolls House in Third Quad, in 12.5, and is always available for a chat.
I applied to Oriel because it seemed to be a lovely place on the Open Day, and the people seemed lovely too; it has nice enough buildings as well, so it does the job perfectly. Living in college is great because you are so close to everyone else – so many good people. My favourite place in College is Third Quad in Trinity: you can spend lovely afternoons splayed out on that, and I also really enjoy playing croquet – I don’t know what’s going on, but it’s really fun.
I decided to do peer support training in Hilary of my first year; I’d been through the wringer and was lucky to have lots of good friends to help me around. I just want to help people who don’t have that network, or people within my friendship group when they come to me: I’m reciprocating what I already received, basically. Training lasts about 30 hours over Trinity. It didn’t feel like work; everyone was lovely. In fact, it was almost a break from work. (Going through training also gives you a lot of emotional support, since there are lots of people willing to listen to you ramble.)
You would expect it to be more overt and out there, with people coming to you for help, but really it’s more stealthy at the moment: someone among your friends will be really upset, and then you think ‘I can help now’. The training is really helpful, but we do need to raise the profile more: of course it’s tough to go to someone you don’t really know, but it can be useful nonetheless. There are also situations where things are a little more than we can handle, but there are supervisions every two weeks; that means we can bring issues to counselling, and it’s nice to talk things through in a group of peer supporters (in full confidentiality, of course!). Sometimes, it can be more a case of directing people to the right services.
In my free time, I am captain of the Oriel lacrosse team – there is a big cuppers match coming up on Saturday 18 May, the big tournament of the year. I’m also in the new fledgling Oriel basketball team, and, rarely, I will just pass an evening on my Nintendo switch. I also just love sitting in my set, with people who come and go, and chat absolute codswallop. Sometimes, I can be observed cooking in Staircase 10 kitchen (the best kitchen on the face of college – not meant sarcastically at all, of course); there, I’m quite predictable: carbonara is my staple, though I’ve since branched out. (Curry with gnocchi is surprisingly good and worth a try – low maintenance, but high reward.)
Conversely, I kind of like the pressure at Oxford. My friends at other universities don’t seem to have as much to do; but I’m never ever bored, as there’s always something to be getting on with. It’s stressful and nice in equal measure; also, to add another generic point about the people: everyone here is actually really lovely. At the same time, I also dislike the busyness a bit: sometimes you just don’t feel like being busy, and life insists; but you just push through that and it goes away after a while.
After university, I might go into teaching or some back-office civil servant job; something low-stress, so I can look back on Oxford and say: [in old man voice]‘that was the most stressful time of my life, but now I can lead a quiet existence’.
As a final piece of advice, I’d like to quote Monty Python: Always look on the bright side of life!