In this week’s blog, former Fitzalan High School student and recent Oxford graduate Mohamed Eghleilib tells us about his experience as a student at the prestigious university.
Initially I was under the impression that Oxbridge wasn’t for people ‘of my kind’. I assumed it was for the elite of our society, the wealthiest individuals and the geniuses. It never occurred to me to even consider studying at such prestigious universities – I’m just a ‘normal’ person from a modest background; that’s not typical of an Oxbridge student. Those were the misconceptions I had of Oxbridge for the majority of my school years.
Despite this, within the first couple of days at Oxford, I quickly realised that it’s not as intimidating as I once thought. Although I am still in awe of its beautiful buildings, it didn’t take me long to realise that the people are not much different to me and you. One particular interaction comes to mind, as in my first 2 days, I met another Pembroke student at a formal dinner in which on first impressions, he completely lived up to my expectations. He rocked up in an expensive looking suit, spoke like he was on Downton Abbey and was clearly from a very privileged background. But in actual fact, it was probably one of the most important interactions I had during Freshers’ Week, because after speaking to him over dinner, I realised that we actually had a lot more in common in terms of interest for the sciences and academic ambition, and in actual fact, we are now great friends!
Nonetheless, university will always throw multiple challenges at you, and in reality, the last three years have been a huge learning experience for me. I must be honest and admit that I did struggle to settle in at first, but I think that would have happened wherever I ended up. Not only do you have to deal with the step up in academic standard, but also learn to be independent and carry out your own chores, including clothes washing! Everyone finds themselves at different times. However, the key point is everyone finds himself or herself. The diversity within the university is great and so it’s only a matter of time before everyone forms tight friendship groups. Personally, I found myself through playing football. By playing football and attending socials and various team dinners, I got to know people a lot better and have been able to form friendships that I’m sure will last a lifetime.
Being at the world’s best medical school, it is no surprise that my first three years were academically challenging. In just nine eight-week terms, I managed to write almost 100 essays, attend hundreds of hours of lectures, many seminars, tutorials and practical classes and even carry on out my very own cutting-edge research project, in which I was able to produce some significant findings for the scientific community worldwide. You will be surprised at how efficient you will become and how quickly you adapt, because everyone at the university is there to ensure you succeed and achieve your potential.
Now that I have finished my first degree at Oxford, I look back at my experience with fond memories; memories that I will cherish for a life time. Therefore, my advice to everyone starting university is to be themselves and continue doing what they like both academically and extracurricular activity-wise. Follow your passions and you will have a great time! There will always be ups and downs, but enjoy the journey, because there is a great prize waiting for you at the end of it all. I am lucky enough to be in this position, and I’m absolutely buzzing for the next three years of clinical studies!
Best of luck, Mohamed