Oxford Demystified - Oriental Studies (Arabic)

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Pichi
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Introduction:

Hey! I’m Pichi, and I hold an offer for Arabic at Mansfield College for 2022 entry. It’s a subject with a very small number of places at Oxford, so I’m aware it is hard to find anything about it and I hope this can be some use to you then.

For context, I go to a non-selective state school comprehensive in a major UK city. I have nine grade 9s and two grade 8s at GCSE and applied with A-Level predictions of A*A*A* in English Literature, French and Psychology.


Why Arabic?
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It’s hard to trace back the exact origins of my motivation to study it, because I only brought them all together and realised I wanted to apply in June 2021. Being Muslim, I learned to transliterate Arabic from a young age and enjoyed forming what I thought were beautiful sounds that felt foreign to my tongue. I have been surrounded by its religious influences, and felt that I wanted to learn more about it and be able to distinguish media and other biased portrayals of Islam to see what it really is – I thought, if I learn Arabic and its history, I won’t have to rely on English translations (that can be biased to one interpretation) of religious texts anymore. I also felt that all other aspects of Arabic-speaking countries – the rich history, literature (particularly poetry), art, architecture, various cultures and other religions (both ancient and modern) – have been overlooked as the region is mostly defined by its dominant theology. The great thing about an undergraduate Arabic degree at Oxford is that it allows you to study almost all of these things! On top of that, I have always loved learning languages, having studied GCSE Spanish from scratch at home and choosing to continue French at A-Level at school. I also self-studied a little Latin at home during the first pandemic lockdown (more on that later on in the OLAT section). My parents also speak different languages (I’m mixed, so I was surrounded by some linguistic variety). I knew that Arabic would be completely different to the European languages I have studied, but that was what motivated me more as I wanted to expand my horizons too.
There was also an Oxford Humanities Study Day online that my form tutor posted on our form Teams chat, and I was assigned to Oriental Studies after French ended up being full; an RE teacher had given me a book about the history of Islam to the modern day, and I loved discussing what I had learned with the Arabic tutor conducting the Oriental Studies session. I didn’t even know of the Oriental Studies degree until this! Combining that and all of the above with my attempt to study it by myself at the start of Year 12 for fun and meeting my best friend (who lives in Cairo and enabled me to have very interesting critical discussions all about Arabic, Islam and the Middle East), I decided to apply. It was only when I found myself doing reading and watching videos about Arabic (i.e. history, literature and theology) following discussions with my friend and after enjoying the Oxford Humanities Day that I realised I deeply cared about it and actually enjoyed doing academic reading on Arabic.
This last thing is difficult to put into words but, gosh, I love the feeling I get when reading Arabic literature – it feels like being transported a special world of its own.
I think this here is an important point to make: if you’re not sure you want to study a subject, try and have conversations about it! If I had applied for English or French (subjects I was reluctant to apply for as the degree content didn’t interest me much), the tutors would have been able to clearly see my lack of enthusiasm. However, I was so excited to talk and talk about Arabic with them during my interviews, and that made me confident in my choice and might have helped convince them about me too.


Did anyone inspire you?
Spoiler:
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I don’t know how, but I somehow knew what Oxford University was in Year 3; when my Year 3 teacher got my class to write about our future plans and asked me what I wanted to do, I said I wanted to study at Oxford. Her response was that it was possible if I combined that desire with some hard work. I remember going on a school trip to Oxford (the city) in Year 5 and being amazed at the university as we passed by it too. The thought of going there didn’t really cross my mind again until I met my GCSE English teacher (now my current form tutor), a recent Oxford grad. He was determined to get my English class to aspire to Oxbridge throughout GCSE, though I was a bit disillusioned at the idea because I didn’t feel good enough. Even when I got good enough GCSEs, I still didn’t feel worthy of applying because I felt inadequate, uninformed (we have only ever sent two students to Oxbridge, back in 2020) and realised that I had become unenthusiastic about what had been my dream degree for a few years now, English Literature (the A-Level and reading university essays/articles for English Lit degrees as well as reading 19th century English literature made me realise that I didn’t find it too exciting anymore, even though I still liked analysing literature in class). I knew that Oxford requires you to have a serious interest in your subject, and this wasn’t the case for me for English or French. I wasn’t going to apply.

He kept encouraging me though, telling me he wouldn’t give up on me, giving me background information on all of the colleges available to me from his experience after I told him I’d finally decided what to study and taking my form to visit Brasenose and St Anne’s in the summer. The Arabic tutor I talked to on the Oxford Humanities Day also inspired me. When I got my offer, I was sitting in my Psychology lesson. After the screaming and excitement calmed down, my Psychology teacher let me run down to my form tutor’s classroom to tell him; I burst into a lesson to tell him and he was very pleased indeed. I could not have done it without him, the RE teacher, my mentor (from Zero Gravity, which is worth checking out as a state schooler), my best friend, that Year 3 teacher (a family friend who I called after getting it!) and OM herself.

Why Oxford (why choose it for Arabic)?
Spoiler:
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When I had settled comfortably on Arabic, I finally thought about Oxford again. I had considered Cambridge because they also teach you a dialect (Egyptian dialect), which is what people in Arabic countries speak on a daily basis (unlike MSA, AKA Fusha, spoken on TV and used in the majority of literature and news articles as well as in the Qu’ran). What made me pick Oxford over Cambridge in the end was:

a) I preferred the Oxford modules more – while Cambridge’s are more modern, I wanted to have a slightly greater focus on the ‘older’ aspects (which I feel are more obscure, so the university would allow me to study them in greater depth with its resources, and it’s more true to one of my original motivations, to study the origins/original practices of Islam). Oxford does still have some focus on the modern Arabic world, though, so I was happy with that.
b) I figured I could learn a dialect on my year abroad – my Egyptian friend assured me that I would be able to cope with learning a dialect if I studied Fusha in depth anyway, and the Oxford website also says you can study the dialect of your host country during the year abroad.
c) Oxford sends you on your year abroad during Year 2, but Cambridge does for Year 3. Getting to study in an Arabic-speaking country as early as possible seemed vital to me for improving quickly (and my Oxford mentor even told me that Oxford Arabists tend to do better on the year abroad than Cambridge ones thanks to this – not sure how true this is, but I did think about it).
d) You do have to think about the country you want to spend your year abroad in too. I felt more comfortable with going to Amman, Jordan on my own rather than to Cairo, Egypt (which is where Cambridge sends their undergrads) because Cairo can be crazy, although this is up to your personal preference.
e) I prefer Oxford as a city – Cambridge is quieter and more rural, but Oxford seems livelier.

Why did you choose your college?
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Well, coming from a very diverse state school comprehensive in a major city, Oxford seemed a little intimidating and unlike the crowd I have grown up in. Mansfield is fighting this image of the posh, private school, white university – there are people of all races, ethnicities and religions (or none) there, and it is the most state-school college in Oxford, so I felt I could fit in there. I learned of this image from one of several online Oxford events my form tutor encouraged me to attend, including the Oxford Humanities Study Day, which the Mansfield Outreach Officer attended and made me aware of the college and its aims. It’s also central and a pretty college (yep, seems superficial but I also love Oxford for the aesthetic, haha), offers accommodation for all four years of study and has the best vegan food in the university (I’m not vegan, but would like to be more aware of what I eat, so this seemed a good step in the right direction), so it ticked a lot of boxes for me. There aren’t any Arabic tutors at Mansfield, but this is okay because most of the teaching for all Oriental Studies students is faculty-based at the Oriental Institute – if not, you get taught at the other colleges too. As far as I’m aware, St John’s is the college with the most Arabic tutors (you can check the Oriental Institute website for where each tutor is assigned to), if that’s what you’re looking for. I did nearly pick St John's because of their wealth as well, as that's another thing that attracts applicants. If that doesn’t matter to you and the student body/other factors are more important for you (as they were for me), then go ahead and pick any of the colleges you like!

Did you attend any lectures, or take part in any competitions? If so, would you recommend them, and why?
Spoiler:
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Nope, I didn’t take part in any (I don’t think there really are any for Arabic?). I didn’t take part in any lectures either. Don’t worry about stuffing your personal statement with awards, competitions, etc (I was worried about that as well). They’re looking at your academic interest.

There was the Oxford Humanities Day online, if that counts (not sure if this was just a pandemic year-exclusive event?), if you’re interested in getting a feel for what any humanity subject at Oxford is like, and outreach events to get more information and application advice. I remember attending a BAME one at some point too.

The personal statement:
Spoiler:
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You have free reign over it! It’s worth checking out what the modules they have first (both at Oxford and other universities) and seeing what particularly stands out to you. For me, I was particularly interested in literature and theological debate, so I dedicated the first paragraph to addressing different interpretations and translations of the Qu’ran and Sharia in terms of women, and the rest of the statement was spent exploring Egyptian literature from two perspectives – Orientalism and feminism. One tip my mentor gave me is that you don’t have to talk about your A-Levels (or all of them) if you don’t want to or find it difficult to fit them in. I only mentioned how I was introduced to Orientalism through studying Dracula for English to introduce that paragraph and mentioned A-Level French in relation to learning a language, and that was all.

When writing it, I kept these things in mind: introspection, exploration and reflection (just made that up right now to sum up what I mean, and it's pretty catchy). I often wrote that reading something made me ask this question, which ‘led me to read…’, and then I would briefly write my conclusion for those thoughts and compare these thoughts before moving on. Explore your texts and your thoughts. I think it’s useful to show your train of thought in the personal statement, to see what direction your academic intrigue leads you in.

What resources did you use? What did you read/watch?
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There aren’t any books that you have to read, of course, as you should read what you’re interested in, though I can give recommendations and mention what I did read.

What I read (personal statement books):
1. No god but God by Reza Aslan (theological debate/history)
2. Orientalism by Edward Said (literary theory) – I read extracts/summaries/watched videos and lectures on it.
3. The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz (literature – absolutely loved this one)
4. The Alexandria Quartet by Laurence Durrell (very long and I only read it in order to compare orientalist attitudes – I wouldn’t recommend it unless you can stomach high-brow literature, haha).
5. The Golden Chariot by Salwa Bakr (literature)
6. Distant View of a Minaret by Alifa Rifaat (literature)
7. Les Djinns by Victor Hugo (‘orientalist’ French poetry)

Other wider reading I did before the interview
1. Reformation of Islamic Thought by Nasr Abu Zayd (theological debate) – a good introduction to the discourse of Modern Islamic Thought.
2. The Arab Awakening by Tariq Ramadan (culture/history/theological debate – the Arab Spring).
3. An Introduction to Arabic Literature by Roger M. A. Allen (I read extracts).
4. The Impossible State by Wael Hallaq (very difficult to read, but it did offer an interesting perspective on what defines a ‘state’, both ‘Western’ and ‘Islamic’).
5. An Introduction to Islamic Law by Wael Hallaq (I read only the first chapter to get some contextual knowledge).
6. The Shaping of the Modern Middle East by Bernard Shaw (read extracts from this).
7. Parts of Al-Mu’allaqat (the most famous collection of Arabic poetry, pre-dating the birth of Islam).

YouTube videos/channels/podcasts/websites:
1. Let’s Talk Religion – his playlist on Islam is extremely interesting and provides useful context on Islamic and Arab history, philosophy and theology and also on the ancient Arab world. I HIGHLY recommend watching his videos. (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9d...QIbQ3KHJZF_z0g)
2. Al Muqaddimah – more Islamic/Arab history. I also highly recommend them (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCf0...K66UUaT7QJPVNA).
3. Extra Credits – their playlist on ‘Dividing the Middle East’ and declining European imperialism provides a good summary of events and a starting point for more research into key historical figures and what happened (https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...yqDnrikUWiqn-w).
4. DarAlIslamChannel (Dar-Al-Islam-Channel, it’s hard to see) – they have lectures on Arab history/Islamic theology, some of which I watched (https://www.youtube.com/c/DaralIslamChannel)
5. Al Jazeera news
6. The Guardian (Middle East section)
7. Z-Library – you can access academic books on here, which is where I got most of them, because it’s quite difficult to get a hold of such books. You can also find some JSTOR articles on here – I used it to read some critical articles on the literature I read.
8. ArabLit – a website dedicated to translating Arabic poetry into English (https://arablit.org/)
9. Al Arabiya – another Arab news site in English.
10. I also checked out ancient rock inscriptions (predating Islam) on OCIANA, a website run by the Oxford Oriental Institute that documents recent archaeological discoveries in the Arab world. (http://krc.orient.ox.ac.uk/ociana/)


Other resources (book recommendations that I am yet to read or am currently reading)
Cambridge Middle East Studies series (61 non-fiction books on the list to read here): https://www.goodreads.com/series/293...e-east-studies
Arab Woman Writers series: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08R2LD3...rwt_sb_pc_tpbk
Al-Mu’allaqat (they’re old editions, but break down Arabic grammar and interpretation): https://archive.org/details/alsabalm...e/138/mode/2up , http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/books/odes.pdf
• The Oxford Handbook series (can be found on Z-Library): The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics, The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Philosophy, The Oxford Handbook of Islamic Theology (they’re all long, but good introductions – you can read extracts if you don’t want to read the whole thing).
The Annotated Arabian Nights: Tales from 1001 Nights by Paulo Lemos Horta and Yasmine Seale (it’s a beautiful and highly annotated copy only published at the end of last year with lots of historical context and an excellent introduction, but fairly expensive at around £22 – I was fortunate enough to get it new as a gift, but you can get it cheaper for second-hand, which is what I usually do. You can get older versions of the tales for cheaper or on Z-Library, but be aware that some of these translations have been criticised by Orientalist theory).
The Most Wretched of the Earth by Franz Fanon (post-colonial theory).
• Some authors/poets: Naguib Mahfouz, Nawal El Saadawi, Ibn Arabi, Al-Mutanabbi. There are so many more I can’t name from the top of my head right now.
• Sufism is also a great thing to research (as another branch of Islam).

What techniques did you use for the entrance test (the OLAT)?
Spoiler:
Show
There’s not a whole lot on the OLAT on the internet, so I’ll try my best to share what I learned.

First of all, you obviously want to go through all of the papers. I would recommend you do the oldest papers without exam conditions first, just to get a general feel of what they’re like, but then save the newer ones for exam conditions/timings, as the new ones are more up-to-date with the way Oxbridge is currently structuring the OLAT exam (there are some changes between 2008-2021, notably in the number of questions, the introduction of genders later on, etc). If you run out of questions, I’d recommend doing the LAT (Language Aptitude Test) as well, because they’re fairly similar to the newer OLAT papers.

I mentioned Latin earlier in this post. It’s a weird one, but having a general knowledge about the basic cases and how they work, such as the nominative, genitive, accusative, etc, really helped me pick apart the made-up language. Arabic also seems to use these cases, so maybe that’s why we’re being tested! Obviously, you don’t have need to have learned or studied Classics before – don’t let that put you off, as I never formally studied it at school either and didn’t study much of it. It’s just a little tip that I noticed when doing the papers myself to help you. It helped me go, ‘Aha, that’s the purpose of the word, to indicate possession of this object for this subject!’, for example.

When doing the actual exam, don’t rush and move through it at your own pace. It’ll be better if you get full marks on the questions you finish rather than one or two marks for each question in the paper. It isn’t expected that you finish the paper either, so don’t worry about it. If you have the time, write a vocab box(es) somewhere on your paper so that you remember any words/grammar rules you’ve deciphered so far in the paper. You can also translate words above each sentence they give you to help.

Look for patterns too, of course, and use the given sentences as a guideline, as they reuse the same structure of sentence (but with a different subject or verb, for example) sometimes. Consider prefixes, suffixes and infixes too (they indicate verb changes/possession, usually).

How did you find the interview process?
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In retrospect, I loved them. I did wonder if I had started rambling too much towards the end of my first interview and if I was too forgettable, but it turns out that wasn’t the case! I felt nervous at the start of both of them (both times they reassured me that it was just a conversation), but, once I had warmed up, I suppose I got very excited, smiley and hyper. I remember throwing my hands around quite a lot, haha. I even accidentally kicked over a teacher’s file on the floor under the desk during the second one because I was so excited and both interviewers and me jumped with wide eyes at the loud bang, which was pretty funny.

After they ended, I stopped trying to guess how they went pretty quickly and got back to focussing on school work. Honestly, school kept me busy all the way up to the day offers were released, so I hardly noticed (which was good, because I didn’t have time to stress and obsess over it). There really is no point trying to guess, because they’re so unpredictable.

Any interview tips?

Spoiler:
Show
You’ll have one interview with the Oriental Institute, and one (or more) with a college (or several colleges). For me, it was one of each and both were online (due to Covid).
First of all, stay calm, because they’re here to have a conversation with you, not grill you or have a Q&A. If you find anything they say interesting, expand on it, or question it, or challenge it too.

I want to emphasise this: when they ask you something, DON’T rush to answer straight away. Let them know you’re thinking (‘Give me a moment to think/Can I have a moment?’) and look away too, if that helps. I mentally bullet-pointed what I’d tell them whenever they did this. Make sure you’re answering their question.

When it comes to the unseen material, remember they don’t expect you to know what it is. First of all, they’re looking to see how you make your points using evidence from what they give you – don’t forget this point. You can even think about the title, if there is one.
Explore the material with an open mind (‘I think it might be suggesting...’, ‘They might be implying...’, ‘I think it could be this, based on this...’). For me, I got two non-fiction texts, but they can also ask you about poetry (in which case you might like approaching it like how you would approach a piece of literature in English, but verbally). They might ask you to translate an ancient language inscription using some English translations they give you (so it’s like the OLAT, but verbally – again, don’t panic, as they’re there to guide you and they’ll provide you with sufficient English translations to help you figure out the other parts). Other people have been presented with artwork so, again, voice to them what you think and what about that painting suggests those thoughts to you (I’ve seen cases of them asking to compare two paintings as well). They may even present you with verses from the Qu’ran and ask what you think the verses want to say – once again, back up your thoughts with evidence from the source. Be prepared to summarise any big ideas too.

Try to think freely and drop any preconceptions you might have about certain topics (for example, when my mentor and I practised talking about a poem to do with the hijab, I kept letting my knowledge of it already interfere – talk about the source they give you as if you don’t know anything about the topic, and talk as though the only piece of evidence you have to back up any claims is from the source itself. This is also why I didn’t research the topic for the OI pre-reading they sent a few days in advance, because the tutors aren’t looking to see what you’ve managed to research about it and what other people think – they want to see what YOU think and how you reached those conclusions).
Ask questions and challenge the source! In my OI interview, I asked questions about what certain analogies used meant, and they asked me in return what I thought was the most likely interpretation. I also gave them multiple interpretations on some things to show that I was willing to think critically and look at it from multiple angles – after all, there is no right and wrong.

Oxford Mum - Thank you for letting me write this! I hope anyone else reading this too found it helpful.
Last edited by Pichi; 3 months ago
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Oxford Mum
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Well, Pichi, what can I say!

I have probably never seen such a detailed, engaging account of an Oxford subject in all the demystified chapters!

Your love of Arabic positively leaps off the page. The beautiful sounds, the history, the architecture, the culture: I almost feel like you are whisking me away on a magic carpet ride to the mystical world of the Middle East (or was this just me remembering my holiday in Cairo?).

Added to these beautiful images is your love for all things linguistic: you family heritage, your self study of Latin etc. You even have a friend in Cairo, who inspires and encourages you at every turn. It all ends in this wonderful sentence "I love the feeling I get when reading Arabic literature - it feels like being transported to a special world of its own". This is how every Oxford hopeful should feel about their own subject.

As you say, even from Year 3, your future plans were to study at Oxford. Many teachers would just ignore this remark, but yours said "it was possible if I combined that desire with some hard work". What's more you also had an English teacher who was an Oxford graduate and was also busily encouraging his class to reach for those Oxford dreaming spires. At the time, you doubted yourself, as only a couple of people in your school had got in, but this dear teacher "wouldn't give up" on you. I like the cut of his jib! Also, Zero Gravity evidently gave you a massive helping hand too. Applicants to Oxford need mentors and cheerleaders, just to keep them going.

Then came the real turning point. The Oxford Humanities Study Day

https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...dy-day-virtual

It must have sealed your fate that with all this Arabic interest bubbling away in the back of your mind, the French classes were full and you ended up in the Arabic department. Engaging with the course material and speaking to the tutors was the icing on the cake and signposted the way to your ideal course.

I love the way you really analysed which course you wanted (Oxford v Cambridge) and you felt more comfortable at Mansfield (the only college I have ever stopped in overnight). I once heard the tongue in cheek remark that Mansfield had "toffophobia". I prefer to think that it's relaxed, welcoming and perfectly formed!

Your PS must have been a real treat to read. Just like the rest of this chapter, it has been carefully thought out. Introspection, exploration and reflection - this is not only a great motto for the personal statement, but should be stamped on the foreheads of every applicant, just to remind them how to go about Oxford admissions!

Here's another great saying "see what direction your academic intrigue leads you in".

After all this veritable Ali Baba's cave of verbal gems, we now have a beautiful (again, well thought out) long list of resources and ways one can engage in your subject. My, you have gone to so much trouble (but I bet you never thought it was trouble though, far from it).

Your meticulous approach in learning Latin finally paid off with the OLAT, that bastion of grammar and linguistic patterns!

As for the interview, I can well imagine you kicking a teacher's file over in your excitement. Bet the interviewers felt like kicking a few files, too having the joy of meeting such a keen prospective student.

The advice "expand, question and challenge" is a class act in how to ace an academic interview. Chapeau bas, as they say in France.

I bet you are counting the days before you come up to Oxford. I hope your childhood dream blossoms into a reality more beautiful than you could have hoped for.
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A few resources:

Arabic (youtube)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FT1nKQfuAmw

interview questions

https://www.oxfordinterviewquestions...stern-studies/
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talalchk
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I’ve got an offer for Arabic and French! Really love your post!
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Pichi
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#5
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(Original post by Oxford Mum)
Well, Pichi, what can I say!

I have probably never seen such a detailed, engaging account of an Oxford subject in all the demystified chapters!

Your love of Arabic positively leaps off the page. The beautiful sounds, the history, the architecture, the culture: I almost feel like you are whisking me away on a magic carpet ride to the mystical world of the Middle East (or was this just me remembering my holiday in Cairo?).

Added to these beautiful images is your love for all things linguistic: you family heritage, your self study of Latin etc. You even have a friend in Cairo, who inspires and encourages you at every turn. It all ends in this wonderful sentence "I love the feeling I get when reading Arabic literature - it feels like being transported to a special world of its own". This is how every Oxford hopeful should feel about their own subject.

As you say, even from Year 3, your future plans were to study at Oxford. Many teachers would just ignore this remark, but yours said "it was possible if I combined that desire with some hard work". What's more you also had an English teacher who was an Oxford graduate and was also busily encouraging his class to reach for those Oxford dreaming spires. At the time, you doubted yourself, as only a couple of people in your school had got in, but this dear teacher "wouldn't give up" on you. I like the cut of his jib! Also, Zero Gravity evidently gave you a massive helping hand too. Applicants to Oxford need mentors and cheerleaders, just to keep them going.

Then came the real turning point. The Oxford Humanities Study Day

https://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/unde...dy-day-virtual

It must have sealed your fate that with all this Arabic interest bubbling away in the back of your mind, the French classes were full and you ended up in the Arabic department. Engaging with the course material and speaking to the tutors was the icing on the cake and signposted the way to your ideal course.

I love the way you really analysed which course you wanted (Oxford v Cambridge) and you felt more comfortable at Mansfield (the only college I have ever stopped in overnight). I once heard the tongue in cheek remark that Mansfield had "toffophobia". I prefer to think that it's relaxed, welcoming and perfectly formed!

Your PS must have been a real treat to read. Just like the rest of this chapter, it has been carefully thought out. Introspection, exploration and reflection - this is not only a great motto for the personal statement, but should be stamped on the foreheads of every applicant, just to remind them how to go about Oxford admissions!

Here's another great saying "see what direction your academic intrigue leads you in".

After all this veritable Ali Baba's cave of verbal gems, we now have a beautiful (again, well thought out) long list of resources and ways one can engage in your subject. My, you have gone to so much trouble (but I bet you never thought it was trouble though, far from it).

Your meticulous approach in learning Latin finally paid off with the OLAT, that bastion of grammar and linguistic patterns!

As for the interview, I can well imagine you kicking a teacher's file over in your excitement. Bet the interviewers felt like kicking a few files, too having the joy of meeting such a keen prospective student.

The advice "expand, question and challenge" is a class act in how to ace an academic interview. Chapeau bas, as they say in France.

I bet you are counting the days before you come up to Oxford. I hope your childhood dream blossoms into a reality more beautiful than you could have hoped for.
Wow, what a summary. You really did capture how I feel about the degree and the whole process of applying. That final line made me slightly teary-eyed and I'm in need of some motivation, so that'll be it for me. Thanks for cheering me on, OM, and it was a pleasure to write the chapter.
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