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Life truly begins, after Oxford

Posted On: March 8, 2015
by Asma Saeed

The sky always looked extraordinary every time I looked up at it. It seemed to stretch endlessly with no limit in sight. I always hoped that my achievements would be as incredible and limitless. Birds also enjoy the vastness of the sky as they spread their wings and fly high, freely accompanying the enormous clouds. When I first got onto the plane heading to Oxford City in the United Kingdom, I too felt like I was flying high. It all started when we used to complain about our AP courses in school and how difficult they were. All our teachers said to us was, “Wait until you go to The Oxford Institute for a summer program, AP girls!" Our teachers always scared us when they told us about how challenging the classes would be. At first, I was scared to go abroad and experience a new adventure, especially when it would be outside of my comfort zone, away from my family and my country in one of the most famous cities in the UK and interacting with new people from all over the world. Later, excitement and a little anxiety replaced my fears for the intense experience of Oxford. Then my journey began.


The weather in Oxford was amazing. I was so happy and optimistic and saw everything in a positive light. The clouds were hugging each other, the rain droplets touched the grass gently, the birds sang peacefully, and everyone was smiling. After we arrived at the university accommodation and were given the keys and instructions, we walked through the park where a group of university students were sitting, chatting and playing.Then we met the program deans and they took us on a tour of the campus. We learned a lot of historical and cultural details about the place. It was particularly special for us, because we were the first batch of girls sent from the UAE to Oxford for this incredible view into the experience of undergraduate college life.


We had to choose a major and a minor just like undergraduate students. I chose to major in medicine and minor in business because I wanted to build my knowledge base in both of these fields. The teaching was very different from what I was used to. The approach that the Summer Program follows is tutorial teaching, in which each class had a maximum of three students. Our tutors were from the best lecturers at the university. We learned many new interesting things and applied our knowledge both during and outside of the classroom. Our debate coach, Mr. Sunny Jain, held several debate sessions for us on how to become good debaters. It was really important to learn how to debate since we were in the city of global debates, where many of the world famous debates have been convened right where we also debated in the Oxford Union.  


Throughout the weeks we attended many various interesting lectures on many interesting topics, including on religious beliefs, the evolution of life and other fascinating topics. Beyond the academic experience, we also practiced many other life skills activities, like punting on the river and playing football in the parks. We also were taken on many tours around Oxford and went shopping. The last few days were the most filled with assignments and presentations, during which we wrote final essays and presented on a topic of our interest. We also had our final debate in the famous Oxford Union.

I learned a lot through attending the Oxford Institute and met new people from countries and backgrounds different than my own. This journey has given me an advantage in multiple aspects of life, culturally, educationally, and historically, to name a few. My experience played a big role in my self-enhancement, as it removed the shell of fear, hesitation and lack of confidence to make me the better, more enterprising, brave, ambitious person that I am now. While my Oxford journey has come to an end, my life truly begins.

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