On paper, I’ve ticked off my first term at Oxford. But to me this first term has taken on a transformative meaning of its own. I’ve stepped into a world that continues to evolve with me, from the people I meet, the perspectives I encounter, the aspirations and debates I hear and the omnipresent learning that I have the privilege of experiencing.
On my first day I strolled into my leafy Summertown home, eagerly awaiting the future conversations I would have with my roommates. Quickly, I forged lifelong friendships with a psychological research student from Germany, a medieval Persian poetry major from Montana, a physician from India and a sustainable aviation PhD student from Newcastle.
My home away from home is analogous to the Oxford postgraduate ecosystem. Despite it feeling like a temporaneous place, together we have made it permanent in our ability to meet and connect in a way that feels daily. I hear stories of my friends lives from protest endeavours to mountaineering expeditions, while sharing the common story of food, a movie, a dance in the Oxford’s spires and halls where academic greats penned their works and of course, a solid study session.
I have the opportunity to undertake two years at Oxford, the first of which sees me chasing political theories, economics models and philosophy within my Master of Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government. I eagerly await my second year studying an MBA focused on social impact while trying to slow to the pace where a day feels like a lifetime. While class normally consumes my 9-5 hours, I feel no limit to the exploration of my academic interests. For me, it presents itself in attending seminars on critical identity theories, history and politics of international development and ethics. There is nothing better than hearing an academic powerhouse unveiling new models of thought – I have a notes page just for things that have ‘transformed my mind’.
These unique and unfolding experiences have meant that the questions I came to Oxford to answer have evolved. Particularly, what do I want to contribute to the international development sector? To this end, the one learning that will stick with me as I seek to answer this is the ability to hold two contrasting ideas at one time, and in a way, recognise new possibilities. This helps me bring a new lens to problem solving for my work particularly in education.
All in all, each day is unique, you never know which library you find yourself in, whether you have to adjust your back bike wheel for the third time in a week, and where you’ll end up for dinner. I’m particularly grateful to have built a close group of friends already – one’s who will go on to lead decarbonisation, abolition movements, freedoms of speech and have already created new chemical compounds.
Hilary and Trinity Terms are going to fly, as will my summer placement. I will stroll into the MBA classroom as a well-seasoned Oxford graduate. I am grateful for every day as it awakes. Oxford is the reward, it is the journey and the destination. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be here. And I know that while Oxford may be my temporary home for 2 years, it will hold a permanent place in my heart and mind as I traverse the next chapters of my life.