Student Blog: Being Welsh at Brasenose

TomMacdonaldMy first year at Oxford was amazing. I have so many great memories and I’ve made so many new friends (unsurprisingly as I’m at Brasenose – the friendliest college). Although the work is hard, and the exam season grueling, it is all worth it. When I logged on to view my first year results I was overcome with joy to have attained a 2:1 having worked so hard. On the social side, From the BOPs (College Parties), to club nights and cocktail evenings, I do not feel that I’ve missed out on the university social life at all. During my first year I’ve been lucky enough through the Oxford Union to hear so many great speakers from Stephen Hawking to Judge Judy. I have no regrets from my first year however, looking back, if I had to change something it would be to have worked harder during the vacation and to have taken up rowing (something I hope to do in the new term).

I must admit that before I went to Oxford I was very apprehensive. My grandparents would often say: “don’t forget your Welsh”, which is something I had not considered. When October came around I became extremely worried about not being able to speak Welsh every day - a part of this worry arose after I’d done some research into the number of Welsh students who attend Oxford, which, is disappointingly low. I am so happy that all my worrying was for nothing. During fresher’s week at Oxford I found the Welsh Society (Cymdeithas Dafydd ap Gwilym) and was instantly intrigued. Through this society I was able to socialise with fellow Welsh student in both English and Welsh and I made some true friends. The society holds weekly or bi-weekly events where we eat Welsh delicacies such as bara brith and Welsh cakes in addition to listening to Welsh music. This year the society revived the old tradition of hosting an Eisteddfod (to mimic an event which happens annually in Wales in which schools all over the country compete by singing, acting and reciting), and this brought back some fond memories of school. I very much look forward to the events and meeting new members next year!

In addition to the Welsh society at Oxford, we are very fortunate to be living in the digital age in which, at the touch of a button, you can be talking to someone in Welsh on the other end of the phone. This certainly helped me get through my first year and therefore there is no reason whatsoever to be worried about speaking Welsh at university and it should definitely not be a limiting factor when considering Oxford. If there is any advice that I can offer to anyone from Wales, especially Welsh speaking students, is to apply to Oxford. There are people there who speak Welsh, facetime and skype exists meaning that Wales is but a click away and Oxford offers the greatest experiences. Applying to Oxford was the best decision that I’ve ever made and I’m so glad that I did not let my apprehensions hold me back. I have truly found a new home.

By Tomos Macdonald (1st Year History and Politics student – formerly of Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy – Conwy County)

As well as Tom and a few others, Brasenose also has three more Welsh students joining the College in October. Picture shows Tom with fellow fresher Alicia

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