“Hi, I’m Amy and I grew up in Nottingham where I attended my local state school. I have just finished my final year studying History at Magdalen College, Oxford.
I’m particularly interested in gender history and active in student Welfare. I tend to use spare time outside of work and Welfare commitments to unwind, be with friends and explore local pubs and bars.”
What advice would you give someone considering applying to Oxford?
Please, please give it a shot! The classic cliché is that the only way you can guarantee not getting an offer is by not applying – but it is true! I was absolutely convinced I didn’t stand a chance of getting in; now I’m here I know most of my friends felt the exact same. I was literally choosing some modules from my insurance university while I was at the interview as I was so certain I wouldn’t end up at Oxford. Not all of us have been dreaming of Oxford from a young age. Don’t see it as a disadvantage! If anything, it meant I was a bit more relaxed going into it and mainly kind of curious! Go into the process knowing that it will be an interesting and challenging experience. I just remember thinking that at least it would be a story to tell!
Why did you apply to Oxford?
I really nearly didn’t. It had never been on my radar until my history teacher mentioned it to me. I was put off by the myths and misconceptions I had about Oxford. My fears of the student body being entirely ‘oxford types’, who had their head in books 24 hours a day and never had fun couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a massive range of people at Oxford; while everyone is clearly very bright and loves their subject, they are interesting, varied people with much more about them than just academia. Oxford is working hard to diversify its student body even more, and meeting the people behind the scenes who are working tirelessly to improve Oxford for the better has encouraged me we’re moving in the right direction and inspired me to be part of the change. I’m so glad I applied as the teaching I receive at Oxford is really second to none; I have regularly walked away from tutorials feeling a bit mind blown by conversations about things I’d never thought about before! I picked Magdalen College for its beautiful grounds and because it has big student body. Choosing a college is quite a personal choice as its about where you want live more than anything else, so it’s worth thinking about location, accommodation, size etc.
How did you find moving away from home?
Moving away from home was challenging at first. I think one of the things I found weird was that nowhere really looked like home…I was used to Nottingham’s big city feel, not the grand castle like centre of Oxford! It also took me a little while to balance trying to meet new people and tackle my new work load. But I met my friends really quickly and we were all in the same boat. Some of our best memories together were bonding over the occasional essay crisis in the first few weeks! Homesickness is a little bit like jet lag – you kind of have to ride it out rather than give in to it. I rang home a bit and kept my friends updated, but mainly I threw myself in to getting to know new friends and I reached out for support when I was low. Coming to the end of my degree now, Oxford feels more like home than I ever could have imagined when I first started.
How have you found the welfare support at Oxford?
Honestly, welfare provision for students has been one of the things that has most impressed me about Oxford. The college system means it is a lot harder to ‘slip through the cracks’ than it is at bigger institutions. You live in smaller communities and help is widely available. The central counselling service is wonderful and has relatively short waiting times. At Magdalen college, we also have an onsite counsellor, nurse, mentor and chaplain as well as a trained and proactive student welfare team. We have a tutor for Welfare, a tutor for Equality and Diversity and Harassment Officers. Having worked on the welfare team myself, I know first hand how hard all of these members of staff work to support students with anything from work anxiety to long term mental health issues. Having struggled myself at times with anxiety and some challenging circumstances in my personal life, I have felt incredibly well supported by my college and the university as a whole. It is of course the hope that you will never need these services, but they are there for when things get tricky.