Having recently completed his third year, Paavan is one of the first Hertford students to study the new course Computer Science & Philosophy. He combines his studies with pursuing a unique hobby: magic.
I never really thought about where I’d go to university but upon reaching sixth form lots of people told me I should take a look at Oxford. I really enjoyed philosophy at school and when I looked at the courses available I first latched onto studying it with physics. But I soon realised physics wasn’t for me, at the same time as finding out about the new course on offer – Computer Science and Philosophy. It was a perfect match; I’d always loved technology and computers, and had recently grown to love philosophy, so having the chance to do both was ideal. And, after attending the taster day and hearing Professor Millican (I now just call him Peter) lecture about Alan Turing and artificial intelligence, I knew I wouldn’t apply anywhere other than Hertford.
Studying at Oxford was incredibly humbling. I had the opportunity to learn one-on-one from huge experts in areas I was interested in. It was, at times, daunting: bringing an essay or problem sheet of what I’d managed to chip away at that week – a small token in the face of these geniuses who’d spent their lifetimes studying it. But it was so incredibly rewarding. To any future applicants reading this: don’t be put off, but instead rise to the challenge! It’s an incredibly unique and satisfying opportunity.
One of my passions, which I had the opportunity to develop while studying at Oxford, is performing magic. Being a magician is an odd hobby and always gets some surprised looks but I love the chance it creates to connect with anyone from any background, near-instantly: by showing them something impossible. Since I was 13 I loved doing magic and during my first-term at Oxford I was hired to work at a charity ball, and since then it’s gone up and up. I’ve been lucky enough to perform for 20+ colleges, at Blenheim Palace twice, and on the Oxford and Cambridge inter-university skiing trip. My highlight has to be when I put on my own solo show (‘A Theory of Magic’) at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Doing an hour slot of just me entertaining a crowd was nerve-wracking but it went really well, and I was fortunate to be supported by the Oxford improv troupe, The Oxford Imps, whose flat I was crashing at. I’m looking forward to continuing performing magic for a very long time (and, if you’d like me to perform at your event, please do get in touch!)
Hertford will always be like a home to me. I’ll always cherish my memories, and I’m hugely grateful to those who donate to give so many people the chance to fulfil their potential and study in such a beautiful place.