I feel enormously privileged to have had the opportunity to study at Oxford. It was a formative period of self discovery, a time when strong friendships and relationships were forged, and paradigms of knowledge generation studied at close range.
The Oxford and Hertford experience provided a mix of thrilling novelty and exploration, sampling of sub-cultures and disciplines, pursuit of learning and ambition. For many it also gets punctuated by a range of pressures (academic, financial and social) as well as bouts of loneliness (a last taboo).
The random acts of kindness from individual staff are what linger in memory from Hertford experience (whether it was the housekeeper inviting me, the only resident left in the abandoned house for Christmas tea, the kindly bursar, or considerate, cheerful porter in the lodge). I am thankful for those memories of soul-nourishing goodness.
Oxford is a uniquely rewarding place for learning and exploration. Yet another hallmark of the experience was the prevailing anxiety in my cohort about life after Oxford, which formed a dominant backdrop to many of our choices – academic or social. My academic choices have certainly been influenced by career considerations, subsequently rewarded in good measure. And yet, if I have to think of anything like a formula for real success (in university or beyond), it’s the combination of passion, integrity and discipline. And for discovering passion, it’s imperative to know oneself, as Nietzsche indicates with the dictum ‘become who you are’. I feel Oxford was a great place for this.