Perhaps this is unusual to say, perhaps it isn’t at all, but I never dreamt of, or even wanted to, study at Oxford. It was never something I seriously considered (I knew no one who had studied there), it was never particularly within the realm of what I considered feasible for myself and throughout my entire application process I didn’t actually think I’d get in. I was okay with that though, this was an adventure, driven by a curious urge to see what would happen if I tried.
My fresher’s week, in the age of COVID, was a singularly unique and quiet affair, especially in comparison to experiencing fresher’s week now as a second-year student, but that didn’t stop me from finding people to connect with and, events and societies to get involved in too. And, with COVID restrictions having eased in Michaelmas 2021, I was able to have a taste of what a typical Oxford term looks like: jam-packed with a combination of in-person classes and tutorials and social activities to fill every moment in between. Wanting to continue pursuing my love of writing, I got involved with The Oxford Blue, a student magazine, first as a contributing writer before going on to become a Junior Editor for Cultures.
English at Oxford also offers sometimes unexpected joys. In first year, I never expected that I would go on to focus on Old English literature for the rest of my degree, but I found a great love for Old English poetry that I likely wouldn’t have even been open to exploring had I been studying anywhere else. You have the opportunity to discover new passions and strengths and expand on those in the future, tailoring your work to your interests, which is one of the best parts of the English degree at Oxford.
Coming from a small rural community, I can say honestly that there is nothing quite like taking yourself for a coffee break or an afternoon stroll around the city—perhaps to Port Meadow or around the Radcliffe Camera—to ground you and remind yourself of just what a beautiful place Oxford is and just how much there is to discover. Boasting gorgeous architecture, historical sites and fun things to do, be it the Botanic Gardens, the Ashmolean or punting, Oxford has a great social side within the city as well as within the university itself.
So, in just over a year spent at Oxford (albeit with most of one term being online and at home), studying English here has opened me up to new genres and periods of literature that I genuinely would never have imagined loving. I have also met people I hope will remain my friends for life and have been involved in extracurricular activities that allow me to cultivate my passions outside of my degree. Oxford really is an incredible place to study, and despite my strange first year and all the highs and lows that come with being a university student, I feel very lucky to have been given this opportunity.