I’ve been departed for 6 years but it’s still my second home. The experience here opened my eyes to so much, gave me arguably the best three years of my life, and left me with the closest group of mates you could ask for.
The academics are constantly stimulating and challenging, and it’s only in hindsight you appreciate what a privilege it is to be discussing everything from Foucault to climate change to the economic liberalisation of western Africa with the genuine leading experts in each field. Don’t get me wrong, the courses are stretching and are tough, but by doing so they broaden your mind so quickly and constantly.
The city and the college infrastructure is a joy to be part of. It doesn’t feel stuffy, the colleges are a great support network, and there is so much fun to be had from rowing, rugby, football and the sports, to art, music and drama, to clubs (shout-out to Parked), bars, pubs and restaurants.
A word on access: I come from one of the poorest and most underrepresented parts of the country and absolutely adored my time there. It’s easy to think that the university isn’t for you but for some wealthier, more privileged ‘others’. But it’s just not true, it does welcome all and sundry as long as they’re willing to put the work in. If it can be my second home it can be anybody’s.
Quick disclaimer: it is a place that uses challenge to get the best out of people academically, and that won’t suit everybody’s preference. I do have close friends who are fellow alumni who would say the approach didn’t get the best out of them and they’d have preferred a less pressured approach. I can understand that as the interview process and final exams are two of the most demanding experiences I’ve been through. The interviews in fact were far harder than all my career application processes combined. But it is horses for courses so I recommend one thing for all – if you’re interested at all go and see it for yourself on an open day!