Having successfully completed the Oxford Executive Diploma in Strategy and Innovation, I was recently invited to share my experiences with the new class starting in November 2020. It was my absolute honour and pleasure to be invited by my alma mater. Talking to the new class who are starting their exciting journey amidst the uncertainty we all are facing made me reflect on my own experiences.
I have had innumerable best moments studying at Oxford, and here are my 12 best experiences in 12 months:
- First being...getting into the most prestigious and the world’s oldest English-speaking University. Sometimes when one’s life is dictated by career, family and everything around it, committing to such an intense course can seem to be very demanding and intimidating. This, I guess, puts off most of us and I was no different until I took the plunge.
- The opportunity to be taught by the best intellectuals in the world and to tap into their vast knowledge and experience.
- A unique opportunity to meet people from diverse cultures, professional backgrounds, levels of experience, which otherwise may have been difficult in such a short time.
- Immersive learning, brainstorming and coming out enriched – meeting some of the most talented minds from diverse domains is the next best thing that wowed me. In your sphere of life, the interactions with your counterparts often get restricted to discussions around very limited topics. But here in the course, the mental enrichment was enhanced by the brilliant minds around me.
- Beyond the classroom, study clubs and library sessions, which I sorely miss now!
- Getting an in-depth understanding of various strategy frameworks as part of a well-structured programme and applying them to the real-world scenario as a part of the final integrative assignment. This is where you explore the practical applications of the intensive course that you go through.
- One of the best parts of going back to studying is getting over the mindset that one develops – ‘I can’t read any more’. I can now happily claim that I have reacquired my love for reading because of all the ‘door stopper’ books which we had to go through and one which I never thought I could do.
- Sitting in the exam hall and writing the exam the old school way, on pen and paper, for two hours while wearing a uniform. The last time I wore a uniform in an exam hall was almost 20 years back, so my first experience of wearing a sub fusc is definitely a memory that I will hold onto.
- Oxford experience – being in Oxford, experiencing the collegiate system and visiting the stunning college buildings. How many universities across the world can claim to have such breathtaking architecture, immaculately manicured green lawns and years of culture – I guess very few. There’s something in the air that makes you want to go back to that setting.
- Gala dinners in magnificently preserved halls, which are steeped in history, and experiencing many unique traditions, customs and practices.
- Great friendships are made on campuses and, as childish as this may sound, this was no different for me. I feel my life has been enriched by the new friends and the amazing connections that I have made.
- Partying – as they say, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Jane an even duller woman, so we did have our share of the good times.
To sum up my moments, I think I can encapsulate all of them in one word – metamorphosis. That’s how life-changing this experience has been for me!