Are we going up again, or coming back home? Oxford’s short terms are unique. One spends just under half the year at university, and the other half, allegedly, revising for the collections. But for Freshers, back for their second term, something often feels a bit off-key without the magic of Freshers’ week and the inherent newness of Oxford. Personally, I felt like I was coming home last Thursday. And as my parents noticed over Christmas, I failed to even unpack. Maybe this was out of laziness, and the fact that my parents had kindly decided to use one half of my room for storage, blocking my wardrobe, desk, and making the simple act of getting into bed more cumbersome than an army assault course, but perhaps it had some deeper psychological meaning: that I didn’t really feel like I was home.And many other students feel the same. You slip so easily into the privacy of locked doors, en-suite bathrooms (if you’re lucky), and in general the sense of independence and freedom which being at home lacks. And in case you might be overjoyed at being back home, the mountain of holiday work is a nice reminder that Oxford is never far away.Once you’re back, the Ford deals you a sharp, but by no means short, shock to the system. I had to endure six hours of exams preceded by an all-night revision marathon before I could even think about hunting down all the friends whom I’d missed being able to see every day. Others, however, will always find the ordeal of washing their own clothes and dealing with the banalities of making sure there’s enough bread and gin to hand quite impossible. It’s unlikely that graduation will see them much more adept at coping. Others are so tied to their friends and family at home that they can’t wait to get back after the first term. Most are just plain exhausted.The majority of Freshers argue that you never really quite recover from that infamous first week, and it’s not long before the fifth week blues hit; then there’s the mandatory final fortnight of partying to max yourself out before you’re sent away to make room for other Oxford hopefuls. Admittedly I found even myself talking about going ‘back’ with reference to Oxford, not home. In fact, uttering those words ‘going home’ left me rather dejected. But in general, perhaps we Freshers should wait a few more vacations before deciding what we really call ‘home’. Or indeed, maybe the sixteen week summer vacation will bring us back to our roots. Wherever they are for now!
The Tallulah River near Clayton, Georgia is a classic in the Southeast paddling scene. This river is an excellent one for many reasons… proximity to Atlanta and Greenville, easy access via a massive metal staircase, five weekends a year of predictable flows released by the dam, beautiful class IV-V whitewater, and now a great festival during the spring releases.I was fortunate to get down to the Tallulah last weekend for two days of paddling and one night of… err festivaling. It was awesome. I saw so many faces that I haven’t been able to catch up with through the winter, and the weather and water could not have been better.For those of you who are not familiar with the Tallulah, its marquee feature is a rapid by the name of Oceana. It is a beast of a rapid, dropping 50 feet down a giant slide, with the majority of the water piling against a rock shelf to create a phenomenon affectionately referred to as “The Thing.” This shelf explodes whitewater 15 feet into the air, and reminds any prospective paddler that this is not a rapid to be trifled with. Hitting The Thing would almost certainly result in leg and ankle injury, and there have historically been two lines: one down the center, and one down the far left.Last fall, Pat Keller pioneered a new line from left to right, crossing right in front of The Thing, and skipping into the built-up pool above it like a jet ski. Check out Pat’s line here: ProLines from Isaac Levinson on Vimeo.This line was on my mind for a few weeks before the Tallulah release, but as many kayakers know, just because Pat can do something does not mean that you can. Upon reaching that rapid, I scoped out the line for the better part of an hour before finally deciding that I was ready to go for it. Fortunately for me, there happened to be a 50+ person peanut gallery to witness the carnage should I come up short and crash into The Thing!I came out of the eddy with my hair on fire and drove hard right over the first exploding wave. From that point onward, I was running by feel, not able to see anything at all. I felt my boat gain speed at an alarming rate, and took a stroke when I thought I would be hitting the dangerous lateral that could throw you off line. Fortunately the timing worked, and before I knew it, my Dagger Nomad was skipping safely through the eddy to the right of The Thing, and flying off the last part of the drop in the center of the river.As I landed, I smiled and looked around in celebration, but was immediately slapped back into the safe but powerful hole at the bottom, and beaten for a good 20 seconds!The river will never cease to humble you, even in your most confident moments. That line made my day, and I bombed down the rest of the river, across the lake, and jogged back up to my car at the putin still riding that buzz.I love kayaking.
Ex- Black Stars midfielder Mohammed Gargo has advised Atletico Madrid midfielder, Thomas Partey, to move to Premier League side Arsenal amid transfer talk surrounding his future.Partey has been linked with a move to the gunners for months, with Atletico insisting on Arsenal triggering Partey’s 50 million euro release clause.Black Stars head coach CK Akonnor has already urged the 27 year old to stay at Atletico, but the former Udinese midfielder, Gargo, has disagreed with his former Ghana teammate, and says the Premier League offers a bigger platform.“I think he should move,” he told Citi FM.“I think it’s going to make him a quicker player than he is today.“Who would want to move from class three to class two instead of going to class four?“Moving to Arsenal is going to give him another opportunity to take him a step forward, it is going to build him up and make him a better player for the Black Stars.“So for me, if I were to be him, I would take this offer,” he concluded.Arsenal have already had a second bid of €25m plus Matteo Guendouzi rejected for the Ghana international with Atletico holding out for the full 50 million Euros.