Hometown & Region: Singapore
A levels: 7 Singaporean A levels (They are a bit different!)
Year of study: Second Year
When I’m not working I’m…
...Enjoying myself. In Singapore I’m reading, going out for lots of food, meeting friends for a drink by the quay. In Oxford there’s loads to do. Outside of academics (real class time is only a couple of hours a week for law, despite the incredible amount of reading required), I’ve coxed for Summer Eights, ballroom danced, joined the college choir, mooted, gone caving in South Wales and attended a bunch of formals and balls. Trinity term is especially amazing – punting, lunches on the quad and flowers (and ducks, but ducks are perpetually there) in Christchurch Meadows/University Parks. When there’s nothing else to do I walk down to Cowley for Japanese food and less crowded cafes.
What made you choose to study at Brasenose and/or Oxford?
Oxford was always this far away dream, so it was a no-brainer when the offer came in the mail. It was definitely the right choice though – it offers the most intellectually rigorous undergraduate education possible, with two-on-one tutorials by professors who’ve written all the articles and textbooks you’re supposed to read. I’ve talked to seniors who’ve gone on to do graduate courses in Columbia University (in New York) etc. and they still find Oxford their best academic experience.
To be honest my junior college tutor chose Brasenose for me. It’s difficult to really choose a college when you’re overseas and unable to attend the open days or really understand the different cultures. Everything online is confusing and most of it isn’t necessarily true, or at least isn’t representative. It’s not that important in that your college experience would be memorable anyway, but I think it does shape your university life. Brasenose has the largest law cohort (I think) and we have our own law library, which works more like a common room where we bounce ideas off each other and talk through difficult problems. That’s really helpful. Location, accommodation and size all seemed great.
Is life in Oxford different to what you expected it to be?
Hmmm I don’t know what I expected. I guess a lot of what I felt towards Oxford was compounded by the fact that it was my first time living and studying overseas. I was surprised at the small international student population in Brasenose, but it turned out fine anyway. Everyone was really friendly and helpful and it was the best way to tune into British culture. I heard a lot about Oxford (and Brasenose) being posh and all that jazz, but personally didn’t feel it.
I also expected Oxford to be very academia-focused, but while it’s true that the profs are first and foremost concerned about your academic work, and you have to work a decent amount during vac to keep on top of things (collections are pretty annoying but useful), there’s still a lot of time to try out new things and just have fun, go out, and have picnics in the little sunlight we get.
What do you like most about studying in Brasenose?
The size of the college and how central it is (sorry, that’s two). Lots of colleges require second-years stay out or at least in offsite accommodation miles away. Brasenose offsite accommodation is still really central (in fact probably in a better location than Brasenose itself). Walking around town, or from Frewin to Brasenose, you almost always run into someone you know, which makes it easy to catch up with friends. There are about a hundred undergraduates per batch, which is sizeable enough to find a group of friends, but small enough to feel like family – I think it makes a huge difference when you find familiar faces everywhere around college grounds.
A quality you think is important for someone looking to study at Oxford?
Teachability. Everyone who applies is intelligent, but I’m inclined to think that the differentiating factor is the willingness to take in and accommodate other viewpoints and opinions. Intelligence and confidence sometimes get in the way of that. It’s especially rewarding here in Oxford.
What are the perks of your degree?
Law library just for lawyers in Brasenose – nuff said. The law faculty isn’t the nicest building around but we have the Missing Bean (great, much-needed coffee) and it’s undergoing a revamp.