My first impression of Oxford, aside from its colleges resembling Hogwarts, was that it was an incredibly intimidating academic institution only the bold would dare apply to. Thank goodness I applied anyway! My past two years at Oxford have indeed been challenging, but extremely rewarding and worthwhile.
It is an inescapable fact that Oxford is demanding. Everyone feels overwhelmed when they first attempt to complete seemingly endless reading lists and write three essays every two weeks. But this process has been immensely intellectually satisfying. Being able to absorb so much material in such a short period of time is an important skill that will be developed very quickly at Oxford. The chance to discuss and debate topics with some of the brightest minds in the world in our tutorials is unparalleled. I have learnt how to make logical sense of concepts when delving deep, deep down into issues with tutors (as one inevitably will in tutorials). I have also honed my ability to think on my feet and defend my own point of view. I remember the first time my tutor, after a rather heated discussion, agreed with my take on the question at hand! It is moments like that that make me realise just how much I can learn under the Oxford system.
Of course, Oxford is not just about studying. There are many little things that make the Oxford experience so worthwhile. Living in old college buildings that look like castles inspires feelings of wonder. Seeing people bike around town in full sub fusc (formal attire with flowing gowns) is interestingly a normal sight. Attempting to manoeuvre a punt down the river, something I have not always been able to achieve without falling in, is a delightful experience. And with the infinite range of opportunities and student societies available to cater for every passion, there is no shortage of excitement.
Above all, what I love most about Oxford is the interactions I have with the people here, be it professors, tutors, other staff, or peers. Professors and tutors are very willing to discuss interesting or complex topics and provide guidance both in and outside of tutorials. These are conversations that usually leave me more academically curious than ever. I have received tremendous support from staff such as the Careers Service personnel. One of the biggest highlights of my university experience has been meeting other students from a wide variety of backgrounds and courses. There is something rather fascinating about sitting in an old, charming dining hall and discussing culture and gender with someone studying Archaeology and Anthropology, or trying to comprehend complex equations with a Physics student, or learning about a visiting student’s intriguing undergraduate experiences and work aspirations.
If you relish the prospect of an intellectual challenge, and the chance to immerse yourself in a culture filled with tradition as well as plentiful opportunities, look no further. Oxford awaits.