From student to student, heed my view: your year abroad at Oxford University will be one of the most transformative and intellectually fulfilling periods of your degree. Amidst the historic towering spires and modern vibe, you will learn to cherish and call Oxford home.
Oxford exists as a multi-college body where each student is affiliated to a single college (the site of your residence, dining and occasional tutorials). As a student from Johns Hopkins on the St Anne’s Biochemistry program, the difficult question of choosing a college was not presented to me. And indeed, gladly so. St Anne’s, above most colleges, successfully integrates its visiting students into all elements of student life in a receptive manner. In an environment teeming with energised students and preeminent faculty, you will be hard pressed to find a better place to spend your year. St Anne’s prides itself on having the best college food in Oxford and one of the best college libraries. The college is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of inner city Oxford and is conveniently situated within walking distance of the science department (excellent for morning lectures during the wintery months!).
The famed tutorial system is a unique experience. The system entails completing (often) multiple essay questions per week (in addition to external practical work) and meeting in small groups with a specialist faculty member. The tutorial system afforded me freedom to explore topics in detail and assess the progress of my writing and wider reading. Your tutor probes every facet of your knowledge - I found this to be wonderfully gratifying. The tutorial system empowers us not as students but as scholars and the individualised responsibility teaches us leadership. The importance of becoming a leader today cannot be underestimated and Oxford certainly breathes life into what we are: leaders of tomorrow.
Outside of academic work, I have a keen interest in sport -- specifically cricket -- and Oxford University superbly caters to all avid sporting enthusiasts. My fondest memories are playing college cricket (for the combined St. Catherine’s-St. Anne’s 1st and 2nd XI’s) on weekday afternoons in the sunshine and scenic background’s of Oxford’s many grounds - traits of the ideal cricketing landscape.
I also recommend attending a college ball or two. These are spectacular and “quintessentially Oxford” black-tie events. I attended the New College Boat Party - a flam-buoyant (pun-intended) river cruise along the River Thames (see picture taken outside the Tower of London awaiting to board the cruise). These are classic “shaken-not-stirred” events not to be missed.
As a South African student, coming to Oxford in my second year from Johns Hopkins was essentially my “2nd” year abroad. I highly recommend the Oxford experience to all students who are keen to travel and learn abroad. The experience kept my outlook dynamic and open to change; qualities, I believe, to be of importance in today’s globalised society.